Welcome to Mum&sons

My two eldest boys challenged me to start a cooking blog with simple recipes that we can cook together - and my youngest one has now joined in. I am hoping they pick up some cooking and photograph skills... or that at least they learn to design and run a blog.


It was the birthday of my youngest this week and we celebrated with a chocolate cake (after one of those 'crazy-mum moments' when you find yourself baking a cake at 23.30 and icing it at 6.30 the following morning). I took the recipe from the BBC website (which is still running, despite all the political hysteria against the BBC earlier this year).

You need:
- 225 plain flour
- 350 sugar
- 2 eggs
- 85 g cocoa powder (I did not have any so ended up using drinking chocolate powder and it worked very well)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla essence
- 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
- 1.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 250 ml milk
- 125 ml sunflower oil
- 250 ml boiling water

For the icing I changed a bit the recipe and used 300 ml double cream and 230 ml dark chocolate.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Grease and line 2 round cake tins. Mix all the ingredients except for the boiling water with a wooden spoon. Add the boiling water in little bits and mix well (the mixture is very liquid but don't worry). Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 35 minutes. Once they are baked wait until they are completely cold and take them off the tin.

heat the cream and dark chocolate (cut into pieces). Once the chocolate has melted let the mixture get cold for around an hour. Ice the cake (the first layer, top and sides)

It was far too late at night for the children to help - but they loved the cake.


Have been for a week in Italy (what a gorgeous country) and came back to the news that the publication of our book 'Made in Spain' by Hodder has been announced  - how is that for a nice return?! … (it almost compensated for the dismay of seeing the government incompetently all over the place on the EU…oooppss!)

This is the first time I deal with publishers (though probably not the last as I am also writing a book on politics in Spain). I have 'devoured' books over the years but it is only after this experience that I realise how much work goes behind each one of them - I am truly humbled by all the efforts Hooder is putting into the book.

This is a recipe for biscotti from Italy, to be enjoyed with a cup of strong coffee and a nice book (the one in the picture is 'Ex Libris' from Anne Fadiman, a truly delicious book)
For the recipe you need:
Preheat the oven at 175 degrees
- 3 eggs
- 275 gr sugar
- 285 gr plain flour
- a teaspoon of baking powder
- a couple of handfuls of pistachios and another couple of handfuls of  almonds (you can replace this by whatever you want: any other nuts - hazelnuts being particularly good - raising, cherries, chocolate chips, zest of orange or lemon, aniseeds…)

Mix the eggs and sugar until they double their volume. Add the flower and baking powder and mix well. Make 6 cylinder rolls (wet your hands first or you will end up with dough everywhere). Put the rolls on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, flatten a bit the rolls and bake for 20 minutes. Then take them rolls out, lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees,  wait for 10 minutes and cut each roll diagonally into the biscotti. Put the biscotti back on the tray and bake for another 8-10 minutes.

This is a really simple recipe for children. Make sure the wet their hands well before touching the dough as it is really sticky. They also like cutting the biscotti as the nuts (which are warm by that point) cut into two really nicely and they make pretty patterns. One of my children does not like nuts, so we did not put many on them. In any case, as you may have guessed, they all prefer to make the biscotti with chocolate chips (and orange peel) rather than nuts.