This is my Grandma's Spiced Gingerbread Recipe made the old school way with shortening, molasses, and tons of spices for crispy-chewy cookie perfection.
In a medium bowl, sift together all of your dry ingredients. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, molasses, and shortening. Scrape down the bowl at least once, and ensure that the mixture becomes very creamy. It will turn about 2 shades lighter.
Once creamed, scrape down the bowl, reduce the speed to low and add in egg yolk just until combined.
With the mixer still on low, add in sifted dry ingredients one heaping tablespoon at a time. By the end the mixture will be very thick.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Use your hands to form it into a flattened rectangle or square shape, and then wrap it tightly in your parchment paper or plastic wrap.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
Take dough out of the refrigerator, and lay between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough flat, about 1/4" thick. (This will take some elbow grease.)
Remove the top piece of parchment and use a cookie cutter to cut the shapes you desire. (Large gingerbread men are better for texture!)
Carefully peel away excess dough (you can repeat the rolling out process with this dough, just pop it back in the refrigerator to cool first.)
If your cookies need to be spread out on the baking sheet before baking, I recommend putting the dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before using a spatula to move them. This will help retain their shape.
Bake for 10-13 minutes. (If using smaller cookie shapes, I recommend 9 minutes for a chewy consistency.)
Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.