3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbl ground ginger
1 ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
6 Tbl butter, room temperature
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar, more if needed
2 to 3 tsp lemon juice, more if needed
To make the cookies:
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
Combine the butter, brown sugar and egg in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula. Add the molasses, vanilla and lemon zest, then beat until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Continue to mix until well blended and smooth.
Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic. Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 4 days also. But be sure to return the dough to room temperature before proceeding.)
To bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Generously butter two cookie sheets.
Place one portion of the dough on a floured work surface. Lightly sprinkle flour over the surface of the dough, and dust a rolling pin with flour too. Roll the dough out to a scant ¼-inch thickness (just under ¼-inch). To prevent sticking, lift the dough frequently, and add a bit more flour as necessary.
Cut out the cookies using a 3 to 4-inch tall gingerbread man cutter. With a thin metal spatula, transfer the cut-outs to the buttered cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 ½ inches apart. Roll together the dough scraps to ¼-inch thickness and continue cutting out cookies until all of the dough is used.
Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookie edges are just barely dark, about 7 to 10 minutes. Make sure to rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest on the pan for about 3 minutes, to cool and firm slightly. Then transfer the cookies using a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool. Cool to room temperature before storing at room temperature in an air-tight container.
To ice the cookies:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and lemon juice, whisking until it is thick yet smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed with more sugar (if too thin) or lemon juice (if too thick).
Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a small round trip. Decorate each cooled cookie with three icing dots for buttons. Add more icing decorations too if you’d like. Allow to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then store at room temperature in an air-tight container. The cookies will keep up to 5 or so days, but are best eaten earlier rather than later.