@Julia M. Usher posted:
Thanks for the nice words, and I'm sorry you struggled with the gingerbread recipe. That is not the result that my gingerbread recipe gives if the recipe was followed exactly and nothing was mismeasured or substituted. As you can see in all of my videos, the gingerbread surface is quite smooth with no pores, and it is relatively non-spreading. Not being there to see what you used and exactly how you measured, it's almost impossible to say with certainty what went awry.
But here are some guesses:
1) It looks like the flour was under-measured and the dough was perhaps too wet. It's very porous, and that is NOT typical. Be sure you are weighing properly, and, if the dough looks too wet, just add more flour, gradually. I always roll with some flour too, and that incorporates into the dough a touch and can contribute to less spreading (slightly though).
2) Did you use a different brand or type of molasses? If so, different brands have different moisture contents and that could be part of the issue.
3) The thicker you roll, the more most any dough will spread. I roll to about 3/16 inch.
4) I never roll my dough and then chill it or rest it after rolling. I chill it in one big block, and then roll right before baking. I can't imagine that would be a problem though, but it's weird that you said the dough puffed even before it baked. Maybe it accumulated moisture in your fridge over all that time, particularly if it was left uncovered?? Or in resting like that, the baking soda had time to activate without the surrounding ingredients getting set in the heat of the oven, so the dough rose before it baked/set?? I would follow my recipe as it's written, and roll it and cut it right before it goes in the oven. See if that makes a difference. Not sure it will. Also, chilling in this recipe really has little impact on dough spreading since the dough is shortening-based and has no butter in it; shortening doesn't firm up much with chilling. You chill butter-based doughs to firm the butter before baking. Chilling in this recipe is done to allow time for the spice flavoring to meld into the dough.
I have a whole video about how to control dough spreading that uses my gingerbread as a test example (https://youtu.be/yiFqM0bEmTY). And another that discusses the honey and shortening/coconut oil substitutions at the end (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF7Gwdibvz4). They go in to great detail on all of these issues, more than I can write here, so I encourage you to listen to them.
But briefly, I would just not add the spices. If the dough spreads too much, add a bit more flour the next time. The honey substitution can be done one-for-one, as shown in my video, but the dough may spread a bit more and it will be A LOT sweeter.
All for now. Please email any other questions. I'm not sure this is the best spot to dissect anyone's recipes, and, as noted, it's nearly impossible to say what went wrong without watching what you did.
@Julia M. Usher Thanks a lot for the detailed response. Appreciate you taking the time. Yes, I used a different brand of Molasses and yes, the dough was fairly wet-er? compared to the dough I see in your videos.
I will take all your recommendations into consideration and try it again. I am waiting for my 5mm rings to arrive so I can roll it thinner. This time I will also rest it first and then roll it.
Before I try it again I also look at the two videos that you have shared and I have taken a note of the information on substitutions. Here, I think I will do some trials with varying amounts of honey and another set of trails by removing the spices and checking if it needs flour addition.