Servings: Makes about 30 (large batch: 90)
Ingredients 2 cups and 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (large batch: 6 cups plus 6 Tbsp.)2 tsp. baking soda (large batch: 6 tsp.)2 tsp. ground cinnamon (large batch: 6 tsp.)2 tsp. ground ginger (large batch: 6 tsp.)1 tsp. ground allspice (large batch: 3 tsp.)1 tsp. ground cloves (large batch: 3 tsp.)1/2 tsp. fine salt (large batch: 1 1/2 tsp.)18 Tbsp. (2 1/4 sticks) butter , divided, at room temperature (large batch: 54 Tbsp. or 6 sticks plus 6 Tbsp.)1 cup granulated sugar , divided (large batch: 3 cups)1 egg (large batch: 3 eggs)1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (large batch: 3 Tbsp.)1/4 cup unsulphured molasses (large batch: 3/4 cup)2 cups confectioners' sugar , sifted (large batch: 6 cups)2 Tbsp. lemon juice (large batch: 6 Tbsp.)2 tsp. zest from 1 lemon (use same lemon as for juice; large batch: use two lemons to extract 6 tsp. of zest)6 to 8 drops yellow food coloring (optional; large batch: 18 to 24 drops)
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 3 hours
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt; set aside. In a second large bowl, beat 12 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup granulated sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until pale and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, and molasses, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Divide dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper and roll up snugly, twisting the ends like a candy wrapper, to make two 8-inch logs. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Place remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a shallow dish. Cut dough logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Dip the top of each in sugar and transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake until just firm around the edges, about 10 minutes; let cool completely on a rack.
In a large bowl, beat remaining 6 tablespoons butter, confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and zest, and food coloring (if using) with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. To assemble sandwiches, spread frosting onto half the cookies, then top with remaining cookies.
Note: Make the dough a day or two ahead when it suits your schedule, then cut and bake the cookies later when you have a free moment.