My gingerbread recipe says I should rest the dough for 20 minutes in the refrigerator before rolling out and cutting. What difference does it make?
In most wheat-based recipes, gluten strands are formed while you work the dough. If you don't rest the dough, rolling can be more difficult and you may get a tougher texture in the final product.
Additionally, refrigerating the dough up to a certain point will firm up the fats in the recipe (butter, etc), which will make the dough less mushy and will making rolling out the dough evenly a bit easier. Unless the dough is so firm it becomes brittle, refrigeration will make the dough less fragile in most cases.
Perhaps less important, the moisture levels may become a bit more consistent throughout the dough as well.
I think it really depends on your recipe. My favorite recipe http://oddsandhens.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/best-gingerbread-cookie-recipe works either way. I will say it is easier to roll out when chilled but not cold as this recipe is pretty thick due to flour etc. It also makes the dough less sticky.