In a bowl, sift together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and salt. In an electric mixer, cream the butter (use the paddle attachment) at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and blend just until combined, scraping the bowl well. Add the egg and orange zest and mix until well blended, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the sifted dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed just until the flour is absorbed and the dough starts to come together, about 30 seconds. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until the dough forms a smooth mass. Flatten into a disk that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 375ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 1/8 inch thick, making sure that it isn’t sticking to the surface and that it rolls out evenly, lightly sprinkling flour under the dough if needed. With a 2-inch round (or similar size) cookie cutter, stamp out shapes. Reroll the scraps and stamp out more. Set the cookies 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges and on the bottoms, about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets as needed for even baking. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Store in airtight containers.
Photo: Scott Phillips