Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Guest blogs

“Ohhhhh the Vineyard! It’s an institution,” recalled virtually everyone I told about staying in one of Cape Town’s most iconic hotels on a recent family holiday. Whether it’s hunting for tortoises in the meandering gardens, piling in for Sunday brunch or the welcoming smile of a special staff member everyone, it seems, has a soft spot for this green corner of Cape Town. And I can see why. The Vineyard Hotel isn’t perfectly polished (although it’s newly refurbished rooms are spot on) and it’s still got an old-fashioned whiff about it, but that quickly becomes part of its charm. When it comes to comfort and a warm welcome, hotels don’t come much better than this.  And that’s before you’ve taken in the view.

The Vineyard Hotel exterior

As with most hotel arrivals, our two boys (aged 1 and 3), were clinging to our legs and threatening tantrums. Thankfully, within five minutes of entering the hotel driveway, a valet had unloaded our luggage, taken away the car and whisked us into the hotel lobby. Before toddler melt downs materialised, Cheryl (aka the kid-whisperer), presented gifts of rubber ducks and ‘Mandela and the Hare’ books to the boys, providing enough distraction to get us to our vast family suite stress-free.

Two interconnecting rooms gave the suite the feel of an apartment, with balconies overlooking a babbling stream, plenty of living space and bathrooms with walk-in showers and large tubs.

The Vineyard Hotel gardens

Mini bath robes, jelly beans and colouring-in kits kept the kids content, while we got stuck into some hotel info over coffee and handmade truffles.  Nick checked out the gym schedule, including personal training sessions by a former Springbok coach, and I marvelled at the hotel’s outward sustainable ethos — with notes, shower timers and rubber ducks instead of bath plugs, to raise awareness about the Cape Town’s drought. 30 minutes in and we had each found our happy place.

The Vineyard Hotel pool

The beauty of the Vineyard Hotel is that it’s just 20 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, though there’s plenty to do on site or nearby, too. First up, a tour of the hotel’s riverside gardens was a relaxed distraction for everyone. Worth a gander for the views alone, the hotel’s gardens are award-winning for their eco credentials, restoring and preserving indigenous flora and fauna so close to the city centre. True to the name, there’s also a miniature vineyard of 100 vines, which supplies grapes to the Waterford Estate just 30 miles away in Stellenbosch; the kitchen garden does its best to keep the hotel stocked with fresh herbs. None of this would be quite as enjoyable if not for the spectacular views of Table Mountain’s Eastern Slopes peeping into view wherever there was a break in the vegetation.

When the rain started to fall, it didn’t stop us jumping into the irresistible outdoor pool, made all the better by its proximity to the heated indoor plunge pool when the chill started to bite.  Pilates, yoga and personal training sessions were all on offer, while the Angsana spa was a tempting reason to tap into the hotel’s babysitting service. But as the rain clouds cleared, a glass of wine on the hotel terrace beckoned just in time to watch the sun dip and pink skies light up uninterrupted views of Table Mountain.  The kids were well catered for with The Garden Lounge’s snack menu (fish goujons, corn fritters and sliders) and the zesty house favourite (Waterford Pecan Stream Sauvignon) did an excellent job at smoothing over any teatime dramas.

The Vineyard Hotel turtle

That evening, once the babysitter was happily installed, we headed straight to the bar. Martinis seemed the obvious choice when surrounded by the decadent gold and mahogany décor of the bar.  Samson serves our drinks with big smiles as we prop up the bar and discuss the many sides to Cape Town; if it wasn’t for the hushed tones of a slightly older clientele, we could well have settled in for a few more.  Dinner in The Square Restaurant was a jolly civilised affair, with live piano music and wine pairings to sample Cape vintages. Locally sourced mussels and oxtail combined with seasonal flavours of beetroot, fennel and Spekboom rouille, were washed down with Klein Constantia Pinot Noir and Meerlust Chardonnay. To finish, a warm lemon and almond cake was served with Waterford Heatherleigh, which was enough to tip us both towards bed.

Sunday morning breakfasts at the Vineyard Hotel are a lazy and lingering affair. The buffet is so vast, and so beautifully crafted, that families come from all over Cape Town to tuck in on the lawns and terrace overlooking the mountains. The ‘kids’ breakfast table kept our three-year-old entertained, enjoying the freedom of going about the buffet on his own, and when the pastries caused peak sugar rush, the lawn provided ample romping space.

The Vineyard Hotel bedroom

Before we headed off to Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town’s answer to Kew Gardens just down the road from the hotel, we took in the art and artefacts that provide the personal touch.  The old kitchens at the back of the house are now a gallery dedicated to the history of the property.  The boys marvelled at images of Lady Anne and her family outside the original country cottage in 1799, and then started shooting their rubber ducks out of antique cannons. I rushed to stop them, but Cheryl jumped in and quickly silenced the boys with tales of where the cannons came from and how old they are.  One of the Porters popped a rubber duck on his head and there were laughs all around; that’s the moment you know you really are in a first-class, family-friendly hotel.

To book this hotel click here.

For more family-friendly holiday ideas in South Africa click here.

Former model, mother and owner of fabulous Notting Hill toy shop, Honeyjam, Jasmine Guinness writes exclusively for kodomo on a recent getaway with her husband without their children. They visited hip bath hangout, The Gainsborough Hotel, for a spa, some sleep and a seriously good breakfast.


Jasmine Guinness by Adam Fussel

Photo credit: Adam Fussel

When my husband and I pulled up outside The Gainsborough Hotel in Bath, late on a wet Friday evening, having battled the traffic and argued about directions, we were well overdue a rest. The excitement was palpable. We were away for the weekend! Having been parents for 15 years we had never done this before. There had been a week away 13 years ago when we only had one kid but not much since. We love travelling as a family so to leave them all behind felt wrong….but the prospect of real sleep was intoxicating.

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath

Walking into the reception of the Gainsborough was a huge relief after our fractious journey. The staff were incredibly welcoming and ushered us up to our heavenly room. It was just the right balance between comfort and beauty with two huge windows overlooking the Thermae baths and Bath Cathedral, both sparkling in the wet night light.

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath exterior

We scurried downstairs, ravenous after our long journey and were not disappointed by the menu. Full of modern combinations of traditional food, I found all my favourites. I had tender scallops followed by delicious lamb washed down with lovely red wine. We ate and drank as if we never had before. No one to persuade to eat their dinner or sit down. Just us. Grown ups. So of course we behaved like kids….

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath restaurant
Having giggled all over our beautiful puddings we wandered out to see Bath at night. This didn’t last that long as it was drizzling but it was lovely to see the Georgian buildings all slick and shiny in the lamp light. Back in our room the real luxury wasn’t just the incredible linen and comfortable bed but the fact that we knew for sure that no one would wake us needing a pee in the night (except perhaps us, of course).

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath cocktails

We woke, amazingly, feeling refreshed. The child radar had been properly off all night and I could feel the difference. This is what people meant when they said that every couple needed a break from their kids occasionally; now I understood! I always thought they had been exaggerating.

We  ran down to the best full (and I mean full!) breakfast I had ever had with masses of tea and even managed to read a paper or two. We then slowly meandered out the door to check out Bath, which was rocking. There were street markets and food stalls, tiny independent shops and lovely old pubs. Sadly, we didn’t have long before our spa ritual but we didn’t want to miss a minute of that.

We were welcomed into the beautiful spa by a charming team. We were given a probiotic drink to start our cleansing process from within (a brilliant touch and utterly delicious), then we were sat down at an aromatherapy bar to figure out what should be in our Neals Yard scented salt bag to keep with us during our treatments. We had a bit of time in the spa before our treatment so we dove right in. There are three different pools at different temperatures with the restorative Bath springs flowing into the spa. No other hotel can claim that, I don’t think. The steam room and different pools could have kept us busy all day, but we had a date with some magnesium.

We had chosen the magnesium wrap as our treatment as it is known for its replenishing powers and it is very good for helping aid sleep. Most of us are magnesium deficient as it is what we use up when we are stressed or tired, so this was perfect for resting parents. We started with an invigorating salt rub, great to get all that winter skin off. The magnesium massage and wrap was incredible, quite simply one of the best massages I have ever had. I felt like a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis! Refreshed, renewed and relaxed. All we could then manage in such a relaxed state was to collapse on our amazing bed and sleep – during the day, no less!

Feeling guilty that it was finally sunny outside, we gathered what was left of our wits and stumbled out like moles. Bath is so beautiful it soon had our eyes on stalks and took our breath away. I am a huge fan of Georgian architecture and couldn’t believe the beauty that surrounded us. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop! Everywhere you turn you find another beautiful street, alley, perfectly balanced circus or crescent of buildings. We found ourselves in a proper pub called “The Star,” built in the 1700’s. Pints during the day….another rare treat.

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath The Canvas Room

We wandered back to our haven of a room and collapsed, yet again. We watched terrible telly (which was a joy) and took our rare chance for an early night to make the most of our time away.

The next day was Sunday and I dragged my reluctant husband out of our comfy bed to take him to the nearby Roman Baths. One of my favourite subjects at school was Classics so I couldn’t believe we could visit a real Roman bath. It didn’t disappoint. Despite its many rebuilds you can still see how it would have looked all that time ago. With ancient arches and beautiful mosaics, all the Roman underfloor heating and statues, it was so inspiring. We then tasted the water straight from the spring (horrid) before going crazy with “guilt buys” for the children in the shop.

It was with a heavy heart that we packed up our bags and checked out. Brian, the manager, was as helpful as ever and although I felt much better than when we arrived I hated leaving. Our car was brought round to the door by a charming valet and the final beautiful Gainsborough touch was a box of mints in the car; such luxury and attention to detail you rarely see. I can’t wait to go back.


When our daughter was born last year, it was clear to my husband and I that our way of life would be changed forever. As would our way of travel. No longer fleet-footed and fancy-free, our one-time fearless forays into the unknown now had to be well-planned, flawlessly coordinated excursions into certainty. What better opportunity to test our new method, we thought, than a jaunt to Japan in the spring on a trip organized in collaboration with my parents (whose 40th wedding anniversary served as the raison d’être for our journey)? Our daughter was 14 months old and entering a very intrepid stage of her toddlerhood, a fact that upped the planning stakes; we laughed, we cried, we vomited, and all our follies eventually landed us with the following snippets of wisdom that I’d like to pass on to future, far-eastern travellers.

Vanessa Able Japan child

Rent a car

Most visitors to Japan get around by buying a pass for the Shikansen, the high-speed train network that’s a very efficient way to get around unless a) you have a baby-sized amount of luggage or b) you want to explore the countryside. A road tripper by DNA, I’ve always been a fan of the car and its flexibilities, and I imagined it would be a lot more practical than schlepping around train stations trying to decipher Japanese characters with my family and all our associated accouterments in tow. We rented an ark-sized Toyota Noah from the airport in Osaka, where we got to choose from an impressive line-up of baby seats, and we finally left the car, three weeks later in Tokyo. Our main concern was parking in the cities, which turned out to be easy – though pricey – due to the proliferation of private parking lots on every block. Another cost we massively underestimated was the price of the highway tolls, which were so numerous as to elicit gasps and curses from us all as we scrambled to rummage around our wallets every time the GPS warned us of an oncoming toll. On one four-hour journey from Nara to Kanazawa, we spent close to $100 on tolls, to give you some idea. But for me, the trade-off was worth it: door-to-door service between every hotel, toilet and nappy-changing stops on the way, and the chance to see something of Japan beyond the urban sprawl.

Vanessa Able child and father

Food heaven is 7-11

Until I went to Japan, I always thought of 7-11 as a walk-in vending machine to be called upon only in times of great intoxication or in the absence of all other options. But 7-11 in Japan (as well as other chains like Lawson’s and Family Mart) is a convenience store with bells on – not only is it one of the only places you can get money from an ATM with a foreign card, it’s also an excellent source of all sorts of baby-related treats, from yoghurt and fruit to boiled eggs and rice snacks, as well as things I probably shouldn’t publicly admit to having fed my toddler like hot dogs and some very salty-sweet white bread rolls. She loved them all, and she especially loved the miniature baskets small enough for her little hands to haul around and make her own selections of shopping goods like dried shrimps, canned coffee and facemasks. It was all fun and games until a pot of yoghurt bespattered the floor right by the cash desk and a disgruntled employee arrived with a mop to politely clean up my bad parenting.

Vanessa Able window shot

Brace for bugs

It’s true that Japan is an exceptionally clean country, but kids do have a way of tracking down even the most elusive germs, so you need to be prepared. We were nestled in on the tatami floor of a ryokan in the hills just south of Nara one night when I heard the labored retches of my little one bringing up her dinner all over the sheets of her cot. Then all over our bed. Then even a bit on the tatami floor. She had caught a virus, and though the vomiting only continued for 24 hours, she refused all food for the following week (even 7-11 hotdogs) and became listless and skinny. Luckily, we had friends in Kyoto who took us to a kids’ clinic and translated the exchange between myself and the doctor, but if you don’t have such a resource to hand, I recommend this page on that provides more solid information on finding Anglophone medical care in Japan.

Vanessa Able group shot

Embrace the Airbnb

When choosing where to stay, be sure to book well in advance and bear in mind that hotels in Japan come in three categories: ryokans that are the old-style Japanese guesthouses, budget hotels, and expensive hotels where one night will cost you the equivalent of a month’s rent back home. If you can afford the latter, god bless your fortune and enjoy every extra inch of space that is thin on the ground in the budget options. Despite the wide-angled photos flaunted on, many of the rooms we encountered, especially in the big cities, were barely large enough to fit a suitcase, let alone a baby with a cot. The ryokans tend to be more spacious, with rooms valued by the number of tatami mats that make up their area, and the futons on the floor are a very practical way of sleeping with a toddler. However, the walls here are often literally paper-thin, inducing cardiac arrest each time your child goes within arm’s length of one with a pokey object, and – if your little one is vocally expressive – regaling other guests with night-time screams and early-morning squeals. (The owner of one ryokan in Nara actually asked me to take my daughter outside until 8am for the sanity of fellow guests. We went straight to 7-11). The best answer I found to the price/space/noise riddle was to rent an apartment. In the big cities, they’re easy to find, they’re bigger than hotels and, if you are several people, the price per head works out much better. Besides, the prospect of a kitchen with a fridge and dishwashing facilities alone should be enough to clinch the deal.

Vanessa Able playground shot

Divine the fun spots

Whereas pre-baby travel used to be all about food and cool cultural experiences, post-baby travel has become all about food and finding cool places to play. The good news is that Japan has no lack of neighbourhood play parks, and a lot of the sightseeing can be fun for little ones too: our daughter LOVED the deer park in Nara, the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, the Kanazawa contemporary art museum (especially the swimming pool sculpture), the Roppongi Hills Observation Deck in Tokyo and any Japanese garden in any given spot. All outings were marked by frequent photo ops with locals who repeatedly declared her to be kawaii, the Japanese term for ‘cute’, ostensibly one of the most overworked words in the language, and lots of hugs with local kids who were curious to find a blondie in their midst.

Vanessa Able pool

Watch where you eat

Back to food: one of my favourite bits about Japan is the food there and the range of dining options from sushi bars to sizzling okonomiyaki and yakiniku joints. But how to negotiate these composed, beautifully choreographed meals that involve the delicate layout of fish and rice or a sizzling hotplate/open flame just inches from the edge of the table in the company of a spirited fourteen-month-old? I discovered three solutions: firstly, the take-away. Lots of places we came across – especially sushi bars – were more than happy to prepare food for us to go, which we could take home and eat in the comfort, noise and chaos of our apartment. The second option was babysitting: I struck up an excellent rapport with our Airbnb host in Kyoto who had a team of babysitters ready to farm out to her guests, and so we hired an Indonesian PhD student to come over and look after our sleeping daughter while we indulged in a kaiseki dinner. The third and most genius idea was arranged by our friends in Tokyo who have a toddler of their own: reserving a private room in a restaurant. I imagine this is only an option in larger establishments, but it comes highly recommended. It meant we had a room to ourselves, were waited on by the staff as though we were part of the restaurant, but the kids could run around at will, and there was nothing to break in the room and no strangers’ handbags to rifle through or open kitchen doors to run into. Japanese dining bliss.

Vanessa Able outdoor play

Vanessa Able is a travel writer and author of the book Never Mind the Bullocks: One Girl’s 10,000km Adventure around India in the World’s Cheapest Car.

Culinary Backstreets got its start in 2009 as the blog Istanbul Eats, founded by Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer. Taking on its present form in 2012, it has expanded beyond Istanbul and into several other cities worldwide. In Istanbul and elsewhere, the goal is always the same: to introduce travelers and locals to a city’s best unknown traditional eateries and to celebrate the food makers keeping these places alive. Yigal Schleifer is Culinary Backstreet’s Editor-in-chief and chats to about this fantastic, family-friendly business.

Culinary Backstreets Kostas

So what exactly is Culinary Backstreets’ Eatinerary?

The Eatinerary is a food-focused custom travel itinerary that we developed after realizing two important things: firstly, finding great local and authentic places to eat and avoiding tourist traps is one of the most stressful parts of travel and, secondly, more and more people now are structuring their travel days around where they eat, making the search for those great food spots all the more important (and, again, stressful). So, we decided to make it easier for travelers by crafting for them an itinerary that guides them to all those vacation-defining, special places that they might not have found on their own. The final product is a PDF document that can be either printed out or used on a mobile device that serves as an indispensible travel companion.

How does is work?

The Eatinerary is created using a client’s taste and Culinary Backstreets’ on-the-ground expertise. To get started, someone goes to our site and fills out the online Eatinerary survey, which asks them a series of questions that gives us a good sense of how and what they like to eat and what particular cravings they may have. We then send that survey to one of our local correspondents who gets to work on creating the guide. Depending on the profile, we’ll send you to the best backstreet dive bar, the busiest lunchtime joint or a romantic place to impress your beloved. We’ll also advise you on eating with kids, the best options for vegetarians or what to avoid if you’re on a particular diet. And, whether it’s someone’s first or fiftieth time in a particular city, we’ll be sure to send them only to the spots that we’ve tried and tested ourselves.

Culinary Backstreets steamed buns

How can travelling families use the Eatinerary?

This service is really ideal for families, who have an even harder time when it comes to finding those perfect places to eat while travelling. As we all know, travelling with kids can often limit our options for what to do and where to go to eat, but we don’t think family travel should mean the end of eating really well. With our Eatinerary, for example, we’ve directed families to the best local spots in Barcelona that also serve dinner before bedtime, exceptional kebab joints in Istanbul that just happen to have kid-friendly museums nearby and to friendly Shanghai noodle houses where the staff will happily listen to your request to hold the spicy chili oil. Of course, with the Eatinerary we can also send a family to a city’s best traditional ice cream spots or its top chocolate makers, places that will leave the kids giddy with delight. We see our job as making sure our clients – and that includes the little ones – have the gastronomic holiday of a lifetime.

Culinary Backstreets child eating

Can you tell us a bit more about what else Culinary Backstreets offers?

The global guide to local eats, Culinary Backstreets covers the authentic food scene and offers small group culinary walks in several cities around the world. We got our start in 2009 as Istanbul Eats, a blog devoted to exploring Istanbul’s best local eateries, and soon after started offering food walks that took visitors off the typical tourist map and into neighborhoods and little restaurants they typically wouldn’t have gone to. In 2012, we expanded beyond Turkey, bringing our model of telling the story of a city through its food and the people who make it, to several other locations worldwide. Today, we are working in nine different cities and offer several different walks in each place we work in. Along with our reviews, walks and Eatineraries, we also help people explore our cities with guidebooks and an app that we’ve developed.

Where are you currently offering your Eatinerary service?

Eatineraries are available in every city that Culinary Backstreets works in, which currently include Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Mexico City, Rio, Shanghai, Tbilisi and Tokyo. But, we are always in the process of adding more cities to our roster, so stay tuned!

Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

Our favourite “Goddesses of Good Eating”, Hemsley and Hemsley, are back. Their new book Good + Simple was recently released and it’s flying off bookshelves. Last Monday saw the first episode of their new show, Eating Well with Hemsley + Hemsley air on Channel 4 to great applause and they recently opened the gorgeous space that is the Hemsley Cafe on the new floor of Selfridges London. Being delightful as Jasmine and Melissa are, they’ve taken some time out of their furious schedule to share a few of their favourite recipes from the new book. As ever, they are healthy but bursting with flavour and they will work wonders with children for days in the garden this summer or further afield on holiday. And if you see only one episode of their television show, make it that which airs on May 30th as it’s the family special. Meanwhile, from the girls….



Courgette and Cannellini Bean Lasagne

3 large courgettes


250g ricotta

80g Parmesan or Pecorino, finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling

1 egg


1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves

120g sundried tomatoes (about 20 pieces) in oil, drained

3 tablespoons tomato purée

A pinch of sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 Add the ingredients for the ‘béchamel’ sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2 Add the ingredients for the tomato sauce to the food processor (no need to clean out the bowl) and blend until smooth.

3 Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, finely slice the courgettes lengthways into 3mm-thick pieces.

4 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/Gasmark 6. Spread about half the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 16cmx 22cm ovenproof dish which is at least 8cm deep, as a thin layer. Top with about a third of the courgette slices in an even layer. Cover the courgettes with about half the ‘béchamel’ sauce, then top with half the remaining courgettes in an even layer.

5 Repeat the layering with the remaining tomato sauce, courgettes and ‘béchamel’, then sprinkle over a final layer of Parmesan to finish.

6 Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving.



Hemsley and Hemsley Huevos Rancheros

4 large handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped

4 eggs

1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

1 small handful of grated mature Cheddar


1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 red peppers, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced into strips

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

A pinch of cayenne pepper or finely diced fresh red chilli, to taste

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes or 800g fresh tomatoes

200ml water (100ml if using fresh tomatoes)

Sea salt and black pepper


1 large ripe avocado

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½–1 lime

2 spring onions or 1 small handful of fresh chives, chopped

1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

1 First make the tomato sauce. Fry the onion in the ghee or coconut oil over a medium heat for about 8minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

2 Add the garlic, peppers, bay leaves and spices to the pan and cook for another 2minutes.

3 Add the tomatoes and water, season generously with salt and pepper, then stir everything together and leave to simmer for 10 minutes until reduced to a thick, rich sauce.

4 Meanwhile, make the guacamole. Halve and stone the avocado, then scoop out the flesh and roughly chop. Place in a bowl and stir in all the remaining ingredients and some seasoning. Set aside.

5 Check the seasoning of the tomato sauce, adding extra salt, pepper and cayenne/chilli as needed, then stir through the spinach and cook for a few minutes until just wilted.

6 Use a spatula or spoon to make four wells in the tomato sauce mixture and crack an egg into each. The eggs will poach in the sauce and cook in about 4 minutes (lid on) for set whites and runny yolks.

7 Scatter over the coriander and cheese. Serve immediately (as the eggs will keep cooking) with big heaped spoonfuls of guacamole on top.

Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

Serves 25–30

Hemsley and Hemsley Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

For the cake

125g butter or coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing

3 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

9 medium eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

220ml maple syrup

5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

90g coconut flour

2½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon sea salt

150g punnet of fresh raspberries, to decorate

For the chocolate avo frosting

4 medium ripe avocados

5 tablespoons (about 75g) coconut oil, melted

8 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)

10 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon orange extract (not essence)

A pinch of sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gasmark 6, then line the bases of two 25cm-diameter cake tins with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter or coconut oil.

2 Blend all the ingredients for the frosting together in a food processor until smooth, adding a dash of cold water if needed. taste, adjusting the flavourings to taste, then transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge.

3 For the cake, add the cannellini beans to the cleaned food processor bowl with the eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients, except the raspberries, and blend to combine.

4 Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until well risen and lightly golden on top. (Check the cakes after 25 minutes and swap the tins between shelves, if necessary, as they will cook at different rates.)

5 Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the tins before turning out.

6 While the cakes are cooling, gently wash the raspberries and dry them carefully using kitchen paper or leave to air dry; (they must be thoroughly dry before adding to the cake.)

7. Spread half the frosting on one of the cooled sponges, top with the other sponge and spread over the rest of the frosting. Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature to serve. decorate with the fresh raspberries just before serving.

Extracted from Good + Simple by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £25)

Photography by Nick Hopper