In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves. Whisk together and set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed until fluffy.
Turn mixer to medium-low. Drizzle in molasses, mix well, scraping bowl halfway through. Add the egg and beat the mixture until well incorporated. Lower the mixer speed to low. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place one ball of dough on a piece of parchment on a large work surface.
Put another piece of parchment, plastic wrap or waxed paper on top of the dough to prevent it from sticking to the surface while you’re rolling it out. Roll dough ¼ inch thick for chewy cookies or 1/8 inch thick for crispy cookies. Remove the top sheet.
If you don’t use parchment paper, sprinkle a bit of flour on the work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking.
Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, cutting as close to each shape as possible. Transfer the parchment paper with the cutouts to an ungreased baking sheet and remove the dough scraps between the cookies.
If you haven’t used parchment paper, use a spatula to transfer the cutouts to an ungreased baking sheet, being careful not to alter the cookies’ shape.
Bake 8 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees F or until cookies are slightly brown around the edges or until they feel firm.
Place baking sheet on a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Decorate cookies with royal icing and small candies (“glued” with royal icing) as desired.
Store decorated cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to a week.