Father’s Day was celebrated in many countries around the world yesterday. Most fathers seem to take the day in stride; when I called my Dad, he was busy digging through the freezer looking for crab to cook for his Father’s Day meal. At our house, Lord D prepared a wonderful grilled steak feast for myself and son Master James. The day got a bit of an upgrade this year since Lord D’s birthday is today. So while he does not normally like to embrace his Father’s Day or his birthday (totally opposite to me), I did take the opportunity of the double celebration to make him feel a little like royalty with a special cake we will get to later.
Back to Father’s Day, Mother’s Day got more of my attention this year with Mother’s Day tea party ideas with Eccles Cakes, and then the history of Mother’s Day in the US, served with a lovely low fat trifle. Even the establishment of a day recognizing fathers came after Mother’s Day. But like Mother’s Day, it took a child’s devotion to lead the charge for a special day of recognition. What Anna M. Jarvis is to Mother’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd is to Father’s Day.
The History of Father’s Day
As you may recall from the story of Mother’s Day, florists were quite enthusiastic and supportive of a day which could be commercialized. As the History Channel website explains “The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, ‘fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.'”
Also similar to the Mother’s Day movement in the US, it started at church. On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.
Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”
While it is now celebrated in the UK, Father’s Day did not take off in that region until the 1970’s so sadly Lord Grantham did not enjoy that “special day” of recognition for his fatherly duties.
Royal Birthday Cake
When I first read Darren McGrady’s book Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen, I knew I wanted to make the Queen’s favorite birthday cake for Lord D’s birthday. Come on, what could be more special than serving the same cake that is special to the Royal Family?
I have written a few posts about this great book, and feel closer to the Queen knowing she shares a love of chocolate. While her birthday was publicly celebrated this weekend, her actual birthday is in April. She gives up chocolate for Lent so she can indulge on her birthday.
This is a genoise cake, a dry sponge cake with no leavening and perhaps not a cake for timid beginners to attempt without some tips, included here from Gourmet Magazine. According, I have adjusted Darren’s method to help produce the best results. The filling for this cake is ganache, which is the gooey chocolate goodness that makes truffles so great. If you have leftovers it can be chilled, then rolled into balls and dipped in cocoa powder, coconut, shaved chocolate. Eat these truffles outright or use them to decorate the top of your cake.
Makes 10 servings
- 1 pound good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped and divided
- 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
- ½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Prepare the Filling:
- Prepare the filling least six hours before baking the cake.
- Put half the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a separate saucepan, bring half the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate, letting the chocolate melt. Whisk it until smooth and well incorporated.
- Refrigerate until it cools and thickens to the consistency of a spreadable icing.
Prepare the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line it with buttered parchment paper. Set a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan half filled with simmering water. The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar to the mixing bowl, and whisk together, allowing the heat from the simmering water to warm the mixture. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa together.
- Keep whisking the egg mixture until it reaches the ribbon stage, tripling in volume. Gently fold in the flour and cocoa mixture in 3 additions.
- Take a cup of the batter, mix it with the cooled butter and then fold in the butter mixture back into the main batter.
- Spoon the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when pressed. Remove the cake from the oven onto a cooling rack.
Prepare the topping:
- Put the remaining half of the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a separate saucepan, bring the remaining heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate, letting the chocolate melt. Whisk it until smooth and well incorporated, and then set it aside while you assemble the cake.
- For the assembly, slice the sponge cake into three horizontal layers. Place the bottom layer on a cooling rack. Using the refrigerated icing, top the bottom discs with a thick layer of icing, and cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
- Cool the cake for at least 2 hours before decorating with chocolate. At the Palace a simple “Happy Birthday” adorns the cake in white royal icing.
As I mentioned Lord D is more low key so I just garnished with chocolate swirls, or as I call it “fun with vodka and chocolate”. You pipe melted chocolate into ice cold vodka. And when you are done you have a nice cocktail! This video demonstrates this technique as well as a few other chocolate garnish ideas.
Books Worth Buying
I have already shared a few recipes from this book, but there are so many stories and wonderful royal family favorites to try. I have the Kindle version so I can take the recipes with me wherever I go. You can also hang out with Darren on his website at www.theroyalchef.com