time: 7 to 10 minutes
1. Measure 3 1/2 cups flour; sift together with spices, baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg and mix well. Stop the mixer and add molasses and lemon rind. Mix on low speed to combine. Stir in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
2. Divide dough into four parts. Wrap each one separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets.
4. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator at a time. Roll the well-chilled dough on a floured board or between sheets of waxed paper to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters and carefully transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving 1-inch between each cookie.
5. Bake just until the cookies are lightly browned and set, 7 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Transfer from baking sheets to a wire rack and cool completely before decorating. Decorate as desired. Store in airtight containers.
Nancy Schubert of Schaumburg, Illinois took first place with these chubby little bears. She uses colored sugar, little candies and a classic royal icing to decorate the bears. Confectioners' sugar icing or tubes of decorator icing can be also can be used. from the Chicago Tribune fifth