In a medium sized bowl, place flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking powder and combine with a fork.
In a large bowl, place the shortening, butter and brown sugar and cream together with an electric mixer; add molasses and beat until blended.
Break the eggs into the sugar mixture and beat until eggs are completely blended in.
Add half the flour mixture with the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add remainder of the flour mixture and continue blending. Mixture will be thick.
Lightly flour a clean kitchen surface and roll out the dough to 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) thickness. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Using cookie cutter, cut out gingerbread men and gingerbread ladies, and place on parchment paper.
Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 12 – 13 minutes.
Combine icing sugar, butter, vanilla and milk, beating until creamy. Thin with a few more drops of milk (if necessary) to reach desired spreading consistency. Stir in optional food colouring or leave icing white. Spread frosting over cooled cookies.
Decorate with your choice of candies and sprinkles.
Makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies, depending on size of cookie cutter.
If you prefer, these can also be iced with Royal Icing.