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.
Queen Elizabeth's Royal Birthday Cake
- 1 pound good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped and divided
- 2 cups heavy cream divided
- 6 egg yolks room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 4 tbsp. Dutch Cocoa Powder
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted and kept warm
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. Don't butter the sides.
- 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. Keep whisking the egg mixture until it reaches the ribbon stage, tripling in volume.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa together. Gently sprinkle the flour and cocoa mixture onto the batter and fold the mixture in 3 additions.
- Take a cup of the batter, mix it with the butter, and then gently 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. The cake should have risen to the top of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven onto a cooling rack. I like to invert to help the sponge expand.
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.
- Slice the cooled sponge cake into three horizontal layers. Place the bottom layer on a cooling rack. which will allow the topping to flow below. Using the refrigerated icing, top the bottom discs with a thick layer of icing, then add the next layer and repeat the with the filling. Place the top of the cake on the second layer of icing. I like to use remaining frosting to fill in any gaps between layers.
- Ladle the warm chocolate icing over the top of the sponge cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
- If you wish to add further decorations, allow the cake to cool for two hours so the ganache has had a chance to set.
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