Michael Buerk is joined by chef Anna Haugh at one of Britain's finest stately homes to prepare food cooked for royal birthdays.
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The royal family are steeped in tradition,
and throughout history, the royal tables have showcased culinary excellence.
'In celebration of royal food...
We know it's the Queen's recipe
because we've got it in her own hand.
'..from the present and the past...'
That is proper regal.
'..we recreate old family favourites...'
The Queen Mother had this really wicked trick with these.
What a mess.
'..we sample royal eating alfresco...'
-That is what you want.
'..and revisit the most extravagant times.'
"Pheasant, stag, turkey, salmon, oysters
"and turbot dressed in a lobster champagne sauce."
This is Royal Recipes.
Hello. I'm Michael Buerk and welcome to Royal Recipes.
This is Audley End, one of Britain's finest stately homes,
built in the style of a royal palace and once owned by a king.
In the splendour of the gardens,
halls and kitchen of this grandest of country houses,
we'll be recreating the food served at the highest royal tables,
and it all starts here with this gem, a royal kitchen maid's cookbook,
the only surviving recipe book of its kind in the royal archive.
This is an exact copy of the original,
which is kept at Windsor Castle.
Inside, the recipes of Mildred Nicholls,
who worked at Buckingham Palace in the early 1900s.
For the first time in over 100 years,
we'll be bringing these recipes back to life.
This time, we are cooking food fit for only the very best of parties -
For generations, they've celebrated in style.
Today on Royal Recipes,
former royal chef Carolyn Robb on cooking for Prince Charles's 50th.
That was a party arranged for him by William and Harry.
They took charge of everything, including the menu.
Historian Dr Annie Gray reveals how the Edwardian elite
celebrated a king's birthday.
You hold it at the most fashionable hotel in town,
and you serve the birthday cake on the back of a small elephant.
Chef Anna Haugh makes a birthday pudding fit for Queen Victoria's grandson.
-No! No, candles would ruin it.
Anyway, there's a lot of rum in there, it might flambe up.
Here in the grand stately home,
we begin with a dish fit for royal dining -
one to impress the finest of royal palates.
We're here in the grand kitchen with top London chef Anna Haugh.
Today we are going to talk about birthdays, royal birthday food.
The dish you are doing is from
the present Queen's 80th birthday lunch party,
which was held at Kew Palace. What are you cooking?
Today I'm going to do a venison haunch with a juniper sauce.
The first thing I'm going to do is prepare the venison,
to get it into the pan.
Make sure that the plan is lovely and hot
because it is the caramelisation of your meat
that's going to give you lovely flavour.
-What oil are you using?
-This is just a pomace oil,
so it's a very light olive oil, so it's got a good smoking point,
which means it's not going to burn as quickly as butter.
Later on, I will add some butter,
so it will be nice, foaming caramelisation going on.
-And you season it?
-Yeah, salt and pepper.
Once my pan is lovely and hot,
you can see there's a good bit of smoke coming off that,
add a little bit more oil
and then in goes my steak.
Oh, sizzles as soon as it hits it!
Followed by the thyme.
A bit of crushed garlic.
That was an explosion of wonderful garlic smell.
The trick here is to, what, seal it, to sear it on both sides?
You're trying to caramelise the meat,
so if you have poached venison, which is actually delicious,
but if you've got poached venison
and caramelised venison right beside each other,
this should taste completely different
because it is two different methods of cooking,
and what we are trying to do is just bring out that gorgeous caramelised meat flavour.
So it needs to be on a nice high heat, especially in the beginning,
to get that good colour,
needs to be a nice golden brown on each side,
and once that happens, I will add my butter in
and we can get going on our sauce.
The venison at this luncheon party was actually from the royal estate at Sandringham.
Do you think that would be farmed or wild
and is there any difference at all?
I'd like to think it was wild,
and there is a huge difference between farmed and wild.
-Absolutely. They've had a much more relaxed life,
a happier environment where they get to feed off the natural vegetation
that's growing around - the herbs and things like that -
where an animal that grows in a farmed environment
is never going to have that type of life.
Does that affect the texture of the meat or the taste?
I know it affects the marbling of the meat,
it affects the flavour of the meat,
if affects the hormones that are in the meat.
Essentially you are going to end up with more tender, more flavoursome,
more delicious meat.
In your restaurant, you'd only cook wild venison?
Only wild, and only when it is in season.
-You've seared both sides?
-I've seared both sides.
Once I've got a bit of colour on the other side,
-I'm going to add some butter.
The butter is going to allow me to have more substance to nappe,
and nappe means I'm going to spoon it on top of the steak.
And this is a more delicious way of caramelising a steak
instead of popping it in the oven.
You could pop it in the oven for probably about maybe 5-8 minutes,
and it would cook it medium rare, but I'm going to finish it off.
So nappe is a poncey chef's word for baste, is it?
Nappe is a very useful word that communicates very well to my team
-how I want something cooked.
-But it is the same as basting, isn't it?
So while that's kind of cooking away,
I'm going to get going on the juniper sauce.
Juniper, which goes so well with venison.
-Nice and sharp, isn't it?
Here I've already sweated down some shallots,
bit of garlic, some thyme and juniper berries.
And what I'm going to add to this now is some Madeira.
So I'm just going to add a little splash of that.
Don't hold back.
-Save some for later.
It's interesting, isn't it, how things have changed?
I've got the menu here from the Queen's 80th birthday lunch.
I think Prince Charles organised it for her. But just three courses.
And three relatively simple courses.
Whereas her great-grandfather, Edward VII,
would have had 14 courses for lunch!
Perhaps that's why the Queen's lived as long as she has...
Well, I think you're right.
..and Edward VII didn't live to a ripe old age, did he?
-Ripe, but not old.
-I also think it's a sign of the times.
Years ago, it was important for the royal family to show off.
Their opulence and the wealth, power, all that.
Yes, and almost be wasteful because they could, where I think nowadays,
the royal family doesn't want to be necessarily associated with so much waste.
So I'm just going to add the stock now to our sauce.
-What stock is that?
-Chicken and beef.
Giving it just a bit more meaty flavour.
So I'm going to actually take our venison off now.
How can you tell it's properly cooked?
This is one of the most difficult questions to answer,
and chefs get asked it all the time,
because when you're cooking a piece of meat from the same animal
over and over again, of course you know.
You know by touch, you know by look and that's how you know.
But really, animals are just all different, so really it's a gamble.
I'm just hoping that this is ready.
You're winging it, are you?
Now resting it is the key thing, isn't it?
Absolutely. Resting is so, so important,
because what you want to do is let it relax,
and what happens is that all the juice
and all the deliciousness just mellows out in there
and you can just really feel it when you eat it.
And if you ate that now, it would be tough.
-It would be tough.
-But leave it a bit?
Yeah, leave it a bit. It's about maybe half the cooking time,
approximately, if you've got the patience.
But I grew up in a tradition where you... Cold house, of course.
You'd be at it straightaway because you didn't want it to go cold.
This is so true, it's unbelievable.
When I cook for my family, and this is my whole family,
if they're not burning their mouth,
if their mouth doesn't get some sort of severe burns or blister...
Or even caramelised, as you would put it.
OK, I'm going to pass my sauce...
-You're just straining it off?
-Yes, I'm straining it off,
because I want to remove most of the juniper berries,
the garlic and the thyme.
So I'm just going to take some of the juniper berries...
I was going to say, you're not going to lose them all?
Not going to lose them all. I'm going to give it a little chop.
You get a lovely juniper flavour, and that's what we want,
that's what you associate so much with venison.
-What are you doing now?
-So I'm just going to add
just a little drop of cream, not too much.
It's a kind of a simple dish,
but you can't do without the cream, can you?
No, you need a little bit of the richness I think to make it special.
Also, venison haunch is quite lean, so a little bit of a creamy sauce...
-There's not much fat around, is there?
It's looking really good.
So I think we're ready to plate our venison haunch.
-It's looking really good, isn't it?
So that resting time is just so important.
It looks really good. Nice and pink in the centre.
Which is really what you want, isn't it, with any red meat?
That's what I want. It looks tender,
but that could just be because you've got a fantastically
Yes, but for venison haunch, that is lovely and tender.
I can feel it as I'm carving. OK.
-So this is going to be quite an experience?
Lovely greens. And they are green. What's the secret?
You just want to cook them very quickly at a high heat, that's it.
Don't spend a long time on it.
Now our venison and our sauce, our juniper sauce.
I'm reaching for the knife and fork at this stage.
And, like a true gentleman, I'm reaching for yours, too.
-Oh, you're so good, thank you.
-Go on, you first, you cooked it.
That does look good.
I'm going to have some of the green stuff with it, too.
Being very healthy. OK?
The juniper and the Madeira just go so well with the venison.
I've never really thought too much of venison,
but I think you've changed my mind.
Well, that makes my day, Michael.
I think the Queen had fireworks in Kew Gardens after this birthday lunch.
There are fireworks in my mouth, it's absolutely lovely!
A mouthwatering and warming dish,
perfect for any royal birthday celebration.
No royal birthday is complete without chocolate.
One of the first monarchs to enjoy hot chocolate was King Charles II,
who once owned this great house.
Charles was on the throne when cocoa beans were first brought to Britain
from South America in the 17th century.
Chocolate was originally only prepared as a drink,
and as Dr Matt Green explains,
this rich liquid drink didn't immediately take off.
When chocolate arrived in the 1650s,
people were naturally suspicious of it
because there was very little tradition of hot drinks in the country.
So a market had to be generated, and the way this happened was that
the people who were selling chocolate,
they claimed that it had these miracle properties.
It would cure you of indigestion, it would relieve you of consumption.
But perhaps the most powerful way they marketed it was to say that
it was an infallible aphrodisiac.
As you can imagine, sales of it skyrocketed.
So what did this stuff actually taste like?
One man who knows is award-winning chocolatier Paul Young.
He uses artisan methods to make his treats,
but today's chocolate is far more refined than
the 17th-century variety.
The elite would drink a very rich, thick and intense hot chocolate,
probably slightly gritty, because we didn't have steel rollers
to refine the chocolate right down.
Sugar was expensive back then as well, it was for the elite too,
so there won't have been as much sugar in there too.
So that was really like the espresso of the hot chocolate world.
Chocolate popularity boomed.
By the early 18th century,
a cluster of chocolate houses flourished around St James's Square,
near the court of Charles II.
Drinking chocolate was the only real option in the mid-17th century,
and the British monarchy loved the stuff.
Ingredients were expensive and it was reported that Charles II
paid an annual salary of £200 to his own personal chocolate maker,
who would import the finest ingredients from all over the world
to concoct a killer cup of chocolate.
And successive monarchs after him, they all loved it as well,
and they all employed their own personal chocolate maker.
Until Victorian times, chocolate was still only available as a drink.
Then, in 1847, one Bristol-based company hit upon a clever idea.
It was Fry's who literally took it and went,
"How can we carry it somewhere without it being in a cup?"
And the science behind that is taking the bean,
grinding it so that the natural fat in the bean melts,
grind in some sugar, then allow it to set.
Bingo. We have a chocolate bar that has revolutionised
the way we eat, buy and enjoy chocolate.
The bars were a huge hit, and thanks to other manufacturers,
including Cadbury, chocolate was brought to the masses.
Queen Victoria was also a fan, so much so she commissioned
over 100,000 tins to be sent to her troops in South Africa in 1900.
Every single officer and soldier was meant to receive one of these,
that was stuffed full of exquisite chocolates.
All the principal chocolate companies were involved,
but what was interesting about it is that
the Cadbury brothers, as Quakers,
refused to profit in any way from the war
because they were pacifists,
so they didn't charge the Queen a single penny.
The modern royals may no longer employ a chocolatier,
but the sweet treat is still very much a part of royal life.
The royal family do still love chocolate.
Look at the amount of brands that have the royal warrant.
The young royals are liking more contemporary flavours.
They enjoy little drinks, so there's a lot more booze in their chocolate.
I made a gin and tonic chocolate for the Queen's birthday.
When it comes to a chocolate birthday cake,
it's said the royals always use the same recipe.
It's been a hit since chef Gabriel Tschumi first made it for
the present Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary.
It's Tschumi's chocolate cake.
Chocolate has always represented the ultimate in royal indulgence,
and, Anna, I think there's one very special chocolate cake
that is wheeled out for every royal birthday, isn't there?
That's right, Queen Mary's birthday cake.
-That's the wife of George V?
-That's right. Yes.
So for 100 years, this chocolate cake has been brought out
-at royal birthdays.
-Yeah, and today you're going to see why.
Better than that, I'm going to eat it.
-So I'm going to start off with a sabayon.
-What's a sabayon?
A sabayon is where you get a kind of simmering pan of water
and in a heatproof bowl, you're going to put your eggs and sugar in.
So it cooks very gently.
Cooks very gently, but as you can see, this is full of air,
and that's exactly what you want with a lovely sponge cake.
So once you can kind of write the figure eight,
or if you want to write Anna, you can,
-you know that it's ready.
-That's what makes a signature dish!
Exactly. So now we're going to sieve in our flour
and you sieve your flour so that it incorporates
as much air as you possibly can as well.
Only the very finest bits go down there, or just goes in slowly?
We're going to fold it in, so that we are protecting the air like that.
And we're going to do that with...
Look at the way it's... It's like a tsunami in there.
Yeah. Then our melted butter.
-Then we're almost there.
Just fold it through.
What sort of consistency are you looking for with this?
So you're making a kind of light batter consistency
and you just need to make sure that you are absolutely folding from
the bottom and lifting it up to the top.
It's a definite technique, isn't it?
-You're not kind of beating it up in any kind of way,
-you're kind of lifting it up.
And then that way you are just making sure you can't see any more
of the butter and the flour.
And we're almost done,
and now I'm going to divide it between the two moulds there.
Apparently the royal cakes only ever have, "Happy Birthday," though,
it doesn't say, "Happy Birthday, William,"
or, "Happy Birthday, Harry," or something, just, "Happy Birthday,"
and also never the number on either.
That's very naff, apparently. This is news you can use.
I know, I love it, I could listen to you all day.
I'm going to pour these into the two moulds now.
You want to try to make them as even as possible
because it just makes the actual cake then,
when you go to build it in layers, nice and even.
-It makes it look better.
-It's really glutinous, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's lovely.
-Look at the way it's glooping in there.
It's lovely and warm now and that's why you can cook it at 160
because usually you would cook cakes like this at 180 degrees.
So you pop that into the oven, 160 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
It was Queen Mary's own royal chef at the time,
it must have been in the early 1900s, who came up...
His name was Gabriel Tschumi.
-He was Swiss, apparently.
-Is there anything you don't know?
I don't know how to cook. So what do you do next?
OK, so once your batter's in the tin,
you pop it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at about 160 degrees.
And this is what you get at the end of that?
That's exactly what you get.
The key to this cake is lots of layers of sponge
and lots of layers of chocolate.
-Because you split them all in half?
-That's right, yeah,
they are all cut perfectly in half.
And then on the outside,
we're going to finish it again with more chocolate ganache,
so it's chocolate on chocolate.
Ganache? What is a ganache?
A ganache is this delightful, luxurious, silky chocolate filling.
It's a real treat. So we melt cream and some sugar together in a pot
and then just when it comes up to the boil,
you pour it over your chocolate.
-You let it rest for a minute or so.
-And then you just whisk it.
Why do you let it rest for a minute or so?
Why aren't you stirring away to get the chocolate melting?
Well, you'd be removing some of the heat,
and this is the only heat that you need to make your ganache.
You want it to be more like room temperature to build a cake because
if it's too hot, it will just soak into the sponge.
Ah, right. So you can take your time over that?
-Yeah, it's lovely, though.
-I mean, there's no great rush here.
-You wouldn't think it though,
but by using a whisk, you stop incorporating air,
because normally with a whisk it adds air, but with this, it doesn't.
If you used a Maryse, it would actually add more air.
-And you don't want air at this stage?
-Not at this stage, no.
Look at this! Look at this!
-Silky, shiny, gorgeous, perfect.
Now, this is a little bit hot for me to use,
-so I've got one that I made earlier on...
-OK, in the tradition.
..that I'm going to use.
And if you swap places with me, I'll start to build this.
-Only for a moment, though.
I don't want to be too far away from this.
I absolutely love building cakes. Right, so,
in the centre of each kind of sponge,
you're going to put some of the chocolate ganache.
So the trick with this dish is not to hold on the chocolate, eh?
Yeah. Chocolate, just more chocolate, more chocolate.
-And then a bit more after that?
-Yeah, that's it.
It's certainly, on the outside,
you're going to completely cover it in chocolate.
So it feels like a special, celebratory kind of cake.
And what is it about building cakes that appeals to you particularly?
It's fun! You get to eat it.
Oh, yeah, yeah, but it's the building of it you like, isn't it?
I do, actually, I really like the building of it.
It's therapeutic, I think.
So we're almost done, three layers in.
They're quite thin layers, though.
I think the ratio of chocolate and sponge is just right, you know?
If it was too big, you wouldn't really get your chocolate kick.
-Really spoiling yourself.
The smell is absolutely fantastic, isn't it?
-Is that the last bit?
-This is the last bit.
This is when the real fun happens.
OK, so we really need to get this on top.
Oh, now you're putting a lot more chocolate on the top
than you did in the layers.
Yeah, so, then, because I need to get it all around the sides.
So I'm going to gently nudge this over.
Oh, like, isn't this just so lovely? This is very therapeutic.
-I could do this all day.
-They have it at all their birthdays,
but the Queen had this especially, I think, on her 80th birthday,
but with a special Highgrove twist to it.
She had fruit from Highgrove actually in the cake.
Oh, I think that would have been delicious.
-Chocolate and fruit is classic.
-Yet another layer inside.
-You mustn't let any of the sponge come through, must you?
Oh, I see, yes, sorry.
Now come on. You've got to fill it all in.
You've got plenty of chocolate left.
You spend a bit of time just making sure it's right.
Can I move the plate over?
You're like the best helper ever.
Oh, wow, look at that!
No, no, no. Come on, let's have a bit.
Don't you start nibbling.
I'm quite happy with that.
That looks quite delicious. Let's get it cut.
Oh, I love, I love a sponge cake.
-It's so satisfying to cut.
Just think, the Queen has had 90 birthdays.
-Oh, actually, she has two birthdays a year, you know.
And she has the cake on each of the birthdays,
so well over 100 of these cakes, she must have tried.
Oh, I'm so excited to try this.
Why are you putting it away from me?
Because normally, I don't get a look-in when we go
to eat a bit of chocolate. Look at that!
-Terrific, isn't it? Just...
-Oh, look at that!
-After you, then, Anna.
Yes, it's all about me.
Anybody would have thought you'd have cooked it.
-Oh, I'm going to get the whole lot.
-What a great recipe.
Lovely, the way you've got the layers.
And it's really soft and light and you've got this rich chocolate.
-The chocolate is a delight.
Well, many happy returns!
When it comes to birthdays,
cake is a must-have and it usually follows a tasty, celebratory meal.
Royal chef Carolyn Robb produced many delicious birthday meals
while working at the royal household.
And today, she's going to make two courses
from one of her favourite celebrations.
I think the one I remember the most fondly was
Prince Charles's 50th birthday
because that was a party arranged for him by William and Harry.
They took charge of everything, including the menu.
It was a chicken dish, which was one of their favourites,
it was always a family favourite,
followed by ice cream, home-made ice cream and fruit from the garden.
What we're going to do first is make some chicken mousse.
So I've got 150g of chicken breast
and just blend it a little bit.
So that's broken down quite a bit. Now I'm going to add some basil.
I always like to add lots and lots,
just because it makes it such a gorgeous, pale green colour.
And one of the reasons for doing this dish
for Prince Charles's birthday was because he so loved herbs,
and you are able to use them in abundance in this dish.
I'm going to put a twist of pepper, add in some cream.
Right, one more stem and then I think that'll be enough.
OK. It's a really lovely, fresh, vibrant green colour.
The next stage is to make an incision into the chicken breast,
all the way from the front to the back.
This doesn't have to be perfectly neat.
If a little bit comes out while it's cooking, it really doesn't matter.
It's supposed to be a rustic dish.
Once Carolyn has stuffed the chicken,
she adds a little butter and wraps in clingfilm.
After poaching for 12 minutes,
they are then pan-fried for a further four.
So all we need to do now is plate it up.
Slice the chicken, just do it in four or five slices
so you can see the nice mousse through the middle.
Carolyn served the chicken
with some of Prince Charles's favourite vegetables -
sauteed spinach and mushrooms
accompanied by Boulangere potatoes
and finished with a cream sauce.
Although it was a private party for personal friends,
it was a really big event in many ways,
because all of Prince Charles's 17 godchildren were invited.
And together with Prince William and Prince Harry,
they put on the most incredible production,
a series of little skits and musical numbers, and it was amazing.
This is one of my favourite dishes
and I think it makes such a great birthday or celebration meal.
It all goes together really well,
and it was certainly a great favourite
over many years of cooking in the royal household.
But no birthday celebration would be complete without a sweet treat,
and for Prince Charles's 50th, Carolyn made poached pears.
Today, I've chosen some Williams pears.
They're quite firm still,
which means they'll be absolutely perfect for poaching.
There used to be wonderful pear trees in the gardens at Highgrove,
so this was something that we did all the time, poached pears.
Prince Charles was always very keen to know where all his ingredients had come from.
The fruit and vegetables largely came from the gardens.
I'm now using a melon baller.
Just going to go in and scoop out.
And that's really nice, when it's being eaten,
you don't have to worry about any pips.
And I'm just going to trim the bottom, so that when it's cooked,
it stands up perfectly.
Carolyn poaches the pears in a vanilla, ginger
and orange zest syrup.
They take ten minutes to cook, before chilling in the fridge.
They are then ready to serve along with vanilla ice cream.
I've got everything ready for the dessert now.
I have the ice cream, which has been setting overnight,
and I have some pears that have been in the fridge overnight,
so they've been soaking in this delicious orange and vanilla syrup.
They will be really flavourful by now.
Now I'm going to plate it up.
And I've got a little trick
that I use to stop the ice cream from skating all over the plate.
Either put a little biscuit or a tiny little meringue
or a macaroon, or today,
I've got a few crumbs of honeycomb,
and that just stops the ice cream from skating all over the plate.
The ice cream sits on the top of that.
Ice cream was always a great favourite, particularly for birthdays.
The favourite was vanilla ice cream, just a very simple,
home-made vanilla with wonderful cream from the dairy at Windsor,
and that was always served with fruit from the garden.
While I was at the palace, obviously there were lots of birthdays.
Prince William and Prince Harry were quite small,
so it was always fun doing birthday suppers for them
and ice cream for pudding.
And birthday cakes were great fun
because they wanted all sorts of things like helicopters and motorbikes.
We had great fun doing those...
under their direction!
And, of course, you always need a sprig of fresh mint - my favourite.
So it is a very simple dessert,
but it was always a great favourite.
With Prince Charles's favourite poached pears and chicken supreme,
it was certainly a birthday meal to remember.
Along with family and special guests,
one person always present at royal birthdays is the household butler.
Grant Harold here has been butler to Prince Charles and to Prince William
and Prince Harry.
Royal birthdays have always, historically speaking, anyway,
been pretty lavish affairs, haven't they?
They have been in the past, especially in the Victorian times,
when Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Albert,
quite famously had a birthday at Sandringham in 1885.
And they had things on the menu like turtle soup and game dishes and stag
and oysters, so that was quite a very kind of formal event,
which is obviously still remembered to this day.
What about now? How big a contrast is a birthday party for one of the
-younger royals now?
-It's changed a lot, because that was quite formal,
where today, it's not as formal.
There is still protocol and ways to behave around them.
But for example, Prince William's 21st was a safari-themed birthday party at Windsor Castle,
so the guests, instead of being in the black tie,
they turned up, I think,
in lion suits and loincloths and that kind of thing.
So it's very different to how it was say over 100 years ago.
Didn't he worry about how the older royals were going to...?
I think he famously, I think Prince William actually said that, you know,
his grandmother, the Queen, did actually comment about
not being too sure about what she would wear
and how it would all work, but she looked forward to it, apparently.
And I think obviously, they all enjoyed it.
The royals get some strange gifts, don't they?
They do get some very strange gifts.
It does make me laugh because
when you hear they've been given a crocodile
or an elephant or a beaver, where do you put it?
Do you put the crocodile in the drawing room or something?
I'm glad to say that they obviously go to London Zoo,
who then look after them.
There are some unusual gifts they've been given over the years.
-Have you worked at any of these birthday parties?
They are very private, as you can imagine.
But the role of a butler is the same as what we would do during any kind
of dinner or event. We'll line the table up, serving the table,
looking after the guests,
making sure the food goes out when it's hot.
It's kind of running everything behind the scenes
-so that out front it all runs beautifully.
-The Queen, famously, has two birthdays, doesn't she?
-How did that come about?
I believe it was back in the time of George II.
His birthday fell in November, which was obviously quite cold,
and he wanted it to be in spring.
So he had the idea that he would have his official birthday in November,
and have his spring birthday in late spring, early summer.
You say there are protocols and traditions surrounding
the celebration of a royal birthday, what kind of things?
I mean, for instance, are the staff expected to say,
"Happy birthday, ma'am"?
Yes. I mean, the wonderful thing is, when you work closely with them,
you are expected to say happy birthday to them
and acknowledge it's their birthday.
And as you say, with protocol,
it's quite normal if people want to give presents. Say for example,
what's a really nice touch is to actually send it ahead of a party or after a party.
What you don't want is people turning up on the day
and suddenly giving the Queen all these gifts,
which as lovely as it is,
it can be a bit too much when you've got a couple of hundred turning up
for a big event or something.
My advice that I give to people
is always send presents in advance, or after.
I'll bear that in mind, thank you.
From the safari-themed parties of the present
to the decadent celebrations of the last century,
some royal parties make more of a lasting impression than others.
Historian Dr Annie Gray is en route to a venue which hosted one of
the most lavish royal parties in Edwardian Britain.
Birthday cake, balloons, party poppers.
All of these things are part and parcel of a good birthday bash.
But they don't quite cut it when you're holding a party for a king.
The party was in honour of King Edward VII -
well-known foodie and party animal.
So what do you do when you hold a birthday bash for a king?
Well, you hold it at the most fashionable hotel in town,
and you serve it to your guests seated in a gondola,
AND you serve the birthday cake on the back of a small elephant.
That's exactly what happened here in June 1905.
London's Savoy Hotel was the setting for this extravagant event.
The King himself didn't attend,
but that didn't stop any expense being spared.
Footing the bill was American champagne millionaire George Kessler.
The hotel archivist is Susan Scott.
This is just absolutely incredible.
So in 1905, this was an open courtyard,
there was a gondola in the middle of the courtyard,
-which was full of water?
They had one big gondola,
which was the one that had the dining table in it,
and then there was a smaller one
in which they put the band who played for the evening.
The whole space was flooded.
They used putty to seal every single doorway,
anything that looked like it might leak.
The piece de resistance, as if that were not enough,
is they brought in a baby elephant, with an enormous...
I think it had something like five tiers,
this huge birthday cake on its back.
Essentially, money was no object.
The historic Savoy has a treasure trove of an archive,
which details this extraordinary party.
This is the line-up of all the actual guests at the party.
The headlines are incredible, aren't they?
£125 a head is an enormous amount.
I mean, it's the salary of a really top notch cook in a private household.
This was something quite spectacular,
it really was above and beyond the usual standard of extravagance.
Although Edward didn't attend the party,
he'd been a regular visitor as Prince of Wales.
In fact, his aristocratic set
helped make supper at the Savoy an institution
amongst smart society.
When people saw that they would come and have a lunch in a hotel,
which essentially was the same as dining in public,
instead of in their own private homes, it changed everything.
Suddenly, everybody started coming.
One of the Prince's draws to the hotel
was its famous chef, Auguste Escoffier,
the father of modern French cuisine.
Savoy patissier Luc Bigeard still uses his recipes.
The name Escoffier,
for anybody who cooks,
is up there with a sort of halo around it.
He is the base of, I would say, almost everything.
Escoffier often named dishes after famous customers,
including the classic Peach Melba,
a tribute to the Australian opera singer, Nellie Melba.
We'll start with the yellow poached peach.
And they've just been poached in sugar syrup or wine?
Vanilla and sugar syrup, really important.
Vanilla is the secret.
We're going to add one fresh raspberry.
A bit of raspberry coulis.
And we put one scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Make a nice rosette of Chantilly.
Raspberry coulis on top.
And then some caramelised almonds.
Oh, my goodness!
-So, the iced swan...
-An iced swan!
When Edward VII came to the throne,
he threw out what he saw as Victorian excess,
and did bring in this kind of much more simplified idea
of very pure French style food.
And, actually, when I look at this,
there is a sort of joy in its simplicity.
-Even though it's not actually very simple at all.
It's simplicity, but it's magical.
The combination of everything, the taste, the presentation.
It's really nice.
Pastry maid Mildred Nicholls was in the kitchen at Buckingham Palace
at the end of King Edward's reign
and her notebook is full of French classics,
including a baba,
which inspired another pudding called a savarin.
There were lots of other favourite dishes for the royals' birthday parties,
they were such extraordinarily lavish affairs.
You've got one, I think.
A pudding from the 21st birthday party of King Edward VII's eldest son.
Today I'm going to make savarin a l'orange.
It's the type of pudding you want to have at a big festival
or a big party. So I think I should get started.
I've already got a basic kind of dough in here,
just with the addition of eggs and orange zest.
Now I'm going to add the butter in, bit by bit.
This is exactly how you would make a brioche dough.
You want to add your butter bit by bit
so that it incorporates really well in with the mix.
And it's going to end up as a kind of rum baba.
I love rum baba. It's absolutely one of my favourite desserts, so, yeah,
it's kind of like a rum baba
in a way that it has the rum and the syrup
and you soak the bread in it,
but because a savarin is more to do with the shape of the moulds,
we're calling it a savarin, but it's a very similar idea to a rum baba.
I wonder where it comes from, baba, it doesn't sound French, does it?
Michael, I expected you to be teaching me this!
I'll show you how to make it,
but you're supposed to tell me where it comes from.
I could pretend. But actually, interestingly,
the kitchen maid from Buckingham Palace,
her recipe book in the early 1900s,
it's got a recipe for babas.
I think more of an everyday royal baba.
-This is a birthday party rum baba.
-I love it - everyday royal baba!
Yes, an everyday royal baba.
"Mix well," it says.
But she didn't have one of these mixers?
No, and I can't imagine what that was like.
Trying to make a baba, a brioche,
or a savarin dough without a machine would be a nightmare.
Exactly. Mildred must have had strong forearms, I think.
Yes, like Popeye!
So we are almost there.
You've got to have a bit of patience.
I'm trying to throw the butter in there because I just want to do it,
but really it's about adding it at the right pace.
Then you're going to let it double in size,
then you're going to knock it back.
That means you're going to take all your anger out on the dough
and punch all the air out of it.
-Why are you pushing all the air out?
-Because we are exercising the dough.
You want to let it stretch.
That's proving it. Then you've got to knock it back,
so it can reprove again inside your mould,
so it can be perfect and light.
-Giving it a work-out.
Cover that with clingfilm, let it double in size.
Pop it in the oven, and then it comes out like this.
-It does look good.
-Doesn't it look good?
And this is when the fun really starts
because this is when we are going to soak it.
We are going to warm up your sugar, your rum and your orange juice,
and add your orange zest in there as well.
You want to just spike the savarin dough quite a bit
so that when you pour your syrup on, it soaks through.
You want to be able to soak it as quickly as possible.
You want the stuff to go down those drain holes.
-That's a top tip.
Otherwise it would just slope off the side, wouldn't it?
That's it, or it tends to just soak really slowly.
This is about soaking it as quickly as possible
because you do want your savarin to soak while it's warm, ideally.
It's amazing when you think of what these people ate.
-This is at the end of a meal.
A 21st birthday party for Prince Albert Victor, at Sandringham.
Do you know what else they had before they even got round to this?
-No, but I know you're going to tell me.
-I've got it written down here.
They had, "Partridge, wild duck, pheasant, stag, turkey, salmon,
"oysters and turbot dressed in a lobster champagne sauce."
-Oh, my God!
-How much room would you have for your savarin after that, do you think?
They must have been dancing and having fun,
and it must be over a whole day, you know.
They had nothing else to do but party. They were very lucky.
Probably about the fourth meal of the day.
OK, look, it's soaking in, isn't it?
You want to continue adding all your syrup in gradually
every kind of five minutes or so,
until it's completely soaked through.
Which I have already done for you, Michael.
So here we have, this is the same, just turned the other way around.
It looks really soaked in the stuff.
But it's not finished. We have to finish it.
We need some cream and then we're going to, just at the end,
grate a little bit of the orange zest on top.
It just gives it that lovely, fresh,
kind of perfumey flavour from the orange.
So, I know you don't like cream, or sweets...
-Can't stand the stuff.
So, a nice, generous...
You've put some candied orange around the bottom.
Yes. So that means with each slice,
you've got a bit of bite of the candied zest.
Different texture, sharper taste, in fact.
-That looks good, doesn't it?
-It does look good.
And then we're going to finish it with a bit of zest.
I love, I mean, my God, the smell that you get of the zest of...
-Oh, it's lovely, isn't it?
-And you don't have to get that white bit of the pith.
You just want to be careful you're just taking little shavings of it off.
You know, it was a birthday party.
It is a birthday cake, do you think candles?
No! No, candles would ruin it.
Anyway, there's a lot of rum in there, it might flambe up!
They are naff anyway, aren't they, candles on birthday cakes?
Unless you're five years old.
It seems a shame to cut it.
-But we will.
-Oh, we will.
There we go. I've got a plate.
Can you hear that?
That sounds delicious.
It's kind of sucking, almost, isn't it? There's a bit of a glug.
This sounds good.
Oh, look how the booze has soaked through.
I'll give you a little bit of extra cream, that's the best...
Don't stint on the cream, no.
That's not the best bit, the rum's the best bit.
Here we go.
-You go first.
-No, after you, you're the cook.
-I wouldn't normally be like this.
-I'd be in it before you.
-Look at that.
-I think you got...
-The best bit.
-..the best bit.
Here we go.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Is it soggy or is it soggy?
That is so good.
You can really get the orange in it.
The squeeze of booze and the orange.
Actually, that's really nice. I should think Prince Albert Victor,
if he were still conscious by this time,
hadn't eaten himself under the table, had a great birthday party.
That's brilliant, well done, Anna.
That's it from our celebration of royal birthdays.
See you next time.
Michael Buerk presents a royal-themed food programme, celebrating dishes served from the time of George IV to the reign of Elizabeth II. Michael is joined by chef Anna Haugh at one of Britain's finest stately homes to prepare food cooked for royal birthdays, starting with the 80th birthday celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II. At a family dinner at Kew Palace, her majesty enjoyed venison with juniper.
Plus Anna tries the chocolate cake said to be the royal birthday cake. It was first made at Buckingham palace for Queen Mary, the Queen's grandmother, and has been served for birthdays ever since.