This recipe will make two large gingerbread men using a Wilton Gingerbread Boy baking pan. Before and after each use, wash pan in soapy water and dry. Prepare pan with vegetable pan spray. Preheat oven to 325. Prepare icing ahead of time and chill for 2 hours. Icing keeps well refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Rewhip before using.
Combine soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a small bowl, mix well. In a very large bowl sift flour, adding spice mixture a little bit at a time so it is evenly distributed in the flour.
In a large pot like you'd use to make a lot of pasta, slowly melt shortening. Remove from heat and cool slightly. You will not be returning the pan to heat. Add sugar, molasses, and eggs. Mix well with an electric mixer. Add flour mixture 1 cup at a time. If dough becomes too stiff for the mixer, turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead in remaining spiced flour mixture. Dough will be firm. You can add flour if necessary while kneading, about 1/4 cup.
Divide dough into 2 equal halves. A kitchen scale is handy for this. Press 1/2 dough mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake at 325 for 23-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on wire rack. Turn out of rack and cool completely. Repeat for remaining half of dough. Decorate with icing and candies.
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