Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg, then the molasses and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture to make a firm dough. (If the dough is too moist, add a little more flour.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with Gefen Parchment Paper or lightly grease.
Sprinkle a flat surface lightly with flour or confectioners’ sugar and roll out the dough to a quarter-inch thickness. Cut into four- to- eight-inch gingerbread men or three-inch rounds. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until lightly browned around the edges, 8-12 minutes. Let the cookies stand until firm, about two minutes, then remove to a rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to six months.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature until malleable, about 40 minutes.
Yield: About 30 three-inch round cookies, or 12 eight-inch gingerbread men.