Breast cancer lesson number 79: In search of the ultimate chemo-friendly ginger cookie

Anyone who knows me well will know that there’s nothing like a 250g slab of butter, a plastic spatula and a kitchen lightly dusted with icing sugar to make me smile. From grannie’s special shortbread and melted stilton and ham rolls to chocolate orange cake and even the odd hand-rolled fondant rose, if it involves a lot of measuring, plenty of bowl licking (oh, raw sponge how I love you) and a little bit of icing, I’m there.

As you might have guessed, I love to bake. The emphasis is usually on taste not presentation (although Duncan was stunned when I once produced a cake that actually ressembled Thomas the Tank Engine for my lovely godson), and there have been more than a few disasters (the less said about the collapsed Quiche Lorraine, the broken brandy baskets and the misshapen macaroons the better), but for me, there is no better smell than the smell of freshly baked goodies!

The trouble is, I love to bake with a purpose. And, when you’re tucked at home with a surgically-flattened stomach and no desire to enlarge it, that purpose is not so easy to find. I will certainly be doing another of my annual charity bake sales in the not-to-distant future, but for now, I am just keen to get creative while filling someone else’s tummy as well as my own. Plus, I have also started to notice that my new right breast is taking a rather larger shape than my left. With tummy fat all over the place (including in the new boob), I have more than just a bulging belly to worry about.

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Last night, however, I went to bed with a dream and I woke up with that purpose. Yes, after discovering that opening the bedroom door can do wonders for night sweats, I had a comfortable night. It also reminded me that I am stronger than the chemotherapy drugs dancing away inside me and now is the time to start fighting back. With chemotherapy cycle three just 12 days away, I am determined to triumph over every single side effect thrown in my direction. That means Difflam on tap (mouthwash for mouth ulcers), ice lollies and frozen grapes (yes, still focusing on the mouth) and a lot of ginger (for the sickness).

For FEC chemo cycle one, having discovered the medicinal benefits of ginger, my beautiful and thoughtful mum arrived on the doorstep with not one, but three bags of homemade ginger biscuits (plus a box of tasty cookies from a friend). I dutifully polished of the lot (with a little help, but not much) and the experience has got me thinking. What is the tastiest, most nausea-relieving and chemo-friendly ginger cookie in the world? Does it exist? Does someone have the recipe lurking in their family history? Is gingerbread better than a ginger cookie? And, could I make some to deliver to my chemo unit to help other chemo patients (and inspire others to do the same)? Why simply take on my nausea, when I can try to help everyone else too?

Of course, I am not ruling out bought ginger biscuits (or ginger bread for that matter). But, there is something about a lovingly-prepared homemade bake that I think might just have the edge. I have heard great things about the Fortnum and Mason stem ginger biscuits and do love a good Ginger Nut. Question is, do they have what it takes to banish waves of nausea from the chemo suite?

So here’s where you come in. Can you help me find the perfect ginger-flavoured treat? In return, I promise to bake every recipe and share my favourites with chemo patients (and maybe a few friends, family members and neighbours too) J. Plus I thought the whole exercise might be quite useful to my wonderful and kind sister-in-law-to-be, who just so happens to have a ‘slight’ addiction to biscuits of a gingery kind! Please post here or send me an email via the ‘Get in touch’ page and I will get cracking.

Spatulas at the ready, it’s time to turn on the oven and turn off those chemo side effects!

13 comments

  1. The Thomas the tank cake was indeed a massive success. The look of wonder on 10 or so children’s faces was a great sight!
    Thomas loves gingerbread men – so I’m sure that would be his recommendation! Xx

  2. I reckon try a ginger biscotti. I will look up/devise/adapt a recipe (I use Paul Hollywood Bread book recipe for normal biscotti so would start from that). They would have less fat than biscuits (lots of sugar though!) so may be a bit healthier (so you can eat more).

    1. That sounds great. Having been introduced to fat rascals for the first time last year after your wedding, I think I have a lot to learn about Yorkshire goodies! J x

  3. An oldie but a goodie! My Dad makes these all the time…Delia’s Gingernuts xx

    Straight from the old book into the new, with not a hint of change. Same crisp crunchiness, same snap as you break one in half, and same reminder of how very much better they are homemade.

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    Makes 16
    Ingredients
    110g self-raising flour
    1 slightly rounded teaspoon ground ginger
    1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    40g granulated sugar
    50g block butter, at room temperature
    50g (or 2 tablespoons) golden syrup
    Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC, gas mark 5
    Conversions
    Need help with conversions?
    Equipment: A large baking sheet, with a non-stick liner
    This recipe is from Delia’s Cakes

    Method

    Sift the flour, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda together into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, then lightly rub in the butter till crumbly.

    All you do now is simply add the syrup and mix everything to a stiff paste. No liquid is needed because the syrup will be enough to bring the mixture to the right consistency.

    Now divide the mixture into quarters, as evenly sized as possible, then each quarter into four, and roll the pieces into little balls.

    Next place them on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between them because they spread out quite a bit. Then just flatten them slightly (to about 1.5cm) and bake near the centre of the oven for 10–15 minutes by which time they will have spread themselves out and will have a lovely cracked appearance.

    Cool them on the baking tray for 10 minutes or so, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling and store in an airtight tin

  4. I love this! Although admittedly addicted to all ginger biscuits and bread, I’m also partial to some crystallised stem ginger… I wonder if eating this will help keep the nausea at bay? I have a great photo of some gingerbread men I made recently but not sure how to upload it for you to see. Not sure the quantity of ginger would have much medicinal effect, but they were good fun to make. I have the gingerbread man cutter if you want to borrow it. X

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I think you may need to be recruited as chief taste tester. Not sure what the rules are, all I know is that ginger gets a big tick in the nausea-fighting world! I will try anything. J x

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