3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light (unsulfured) molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, mix butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses, then egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough is formed.
Divide dough into thirds. Form each third into a fattened disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill until firm, at least 2 hours up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one or more large baking sheets with parchment paper or with silicone baking mats, if you have them.
Flour a clean, dry, work surface and rolling pin. Place one unwrapped disk on the work surface. Turn the dough over to coat both sides with flour. Roll out dough to 1/4 -inch thickness, lifting and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Use cookie cutters dipped into flour to cut out cookies. Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet, at 1/2 -inch apart. Gather dough scraps together and repeat the process.
Bake until cookies turn lightly brown on edges, about 12-15 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking pan for at least 2 minutes before transfering them (using a small spatula) to racks to cool thoroughly.
Makes about 4 dozen 3-inch cookies.
Store cooled cookies in airtight container at room temperature until ready to decorate.