Bog-standard Trifle

I've got a wonderful trifle dish, which is actually the glass bowl bit out of a dead washing machine. I'm making a standard trifle in it today, which is:


  • 1 bought Madeira cake
  • Raspberry jam / conserve
  • Madeira or cream sherry
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 dessertspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 pints double cream
  • Fresh raspberries

Slice the madeira cake and sandwich the slices back together with raspberry jam, in whatever shape is convenient for your bowl. Sprinkle with plenty of booze to soak well in. Today we're using ordinary raspberry jam, but soaking in Blandy's Avada 5 year old sweet Madeira.

Make a custard – in a bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour. Heat one of the pints of cream to nearly boiling, pour over the egg mixture in a stream, whisking as you go. Put back in the pan, and heat gently until well thick. Pour it over the sponges, banging it up and down a couple of times to make sure it settles well around the sponges. Leave to cool and set.

When it's cool, whip the second pint of cream, with booze and flavourings if you like, and spread over the top. If you're using a bowl shaped like mine, that's wider at the top than the bottom, you may need more cream to get a decent layer.

Decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

This is actually better the next day, but if you're leaving it for a while you might want to wait on the raspberries.

Variants – blueberries (jam and fresh for the top), cranberries ditto – but sweetened dried for the top, fresh is too tart, chopped nuts on top, some people put fruit in amongst the sponge, but I'm a bit of a purist about that, you can put vanilla in the custard if you must.

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Sample Christmas Menu

Christmas menu from local catering college:
Cream of potato and watercress soup
Smoked salmon terrine served with crayfish tails and tartare dressing
Paupiette of plaice and spinach duglere (which research assures me is a white fish sauce incorporating crushed tomatoes)
Cheese fritters served on peperonata
Roast turkey
Game pie
Char-grilled sirloin steak bearnaise
Parsnip, chestnut and cranberry strudel served with forest mushroom and red wine reduction
Roast and creamed potatoes
Brussels sprouts
Puree of carrots and swede
Christmas pudding with rum sauce
Pecan truffle stuffed pear served with vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup sauce
Old English sherry trifle with syllabub sauce

The strudel could run the risk of being sweet, and is deffo v carby. The pecan pear sounds good, though …

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Cardamom and Bay Trifle

Can't be bothered to type it all out, again from delicious December 2005. A nice plain sherry, raspberry and orange trifle, but the custard is made with milk heated and scented with cardamom pods, bay leaves and a vanilla pod. I hate dealing with fresh oranges, unless it's just to eat them straightaway, my heart sinks when I see a recipe that says "over a bowl to catch all the juices". So if I do this, it probably won't have oranges in it.

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Cassata Trifle

from a Waitrose recipe card, dated December 2005

claims 8 portions, at 603kcals per serving

2 packs Lyons Trifle Sponges (16 sponges total) (I like Madeira or poundcake better)
150ml Marsala or Madeira
2 x 300g packs frozen Waitrose Raspberries, defrosted (fresh if they're around, and more for the top)
2 x 250g pots ricotta cheese
4 tbsp icing
284ml pot double cream
25g Waitrose Italian Cut Mixed Peel
100g Waitrose Continental Plain Chocolate (I have cocoa mass buttons, pure 100% chocolate, from my sister, which I'd probably use instead)

Place half the trifle sponges in the base of a glass trifle bowl or dish. Drizzle over half of the Marsala or Madeira and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Scatter about a third of the raspberries over the sponge layer.

Place the ricotta in a large bowl and add the icing sugar and half the cream. Combine with a fork until smooth, then stir through the mixed peel and remaining raspberries. Chop two thirds of the chocolate into small pieces and stir into the ricotta mixture.

Spoon a layer of the ricotta mixture on top of the sponge bases and then arrange the remaining sponges on top of the ricotta. Drizzle over the rest of the Marsala or Madeira and then spread the remaining ricotta mixture on top.

To serve, whip the remaining double cream to soft peaks. Spread it over the ricotta mixture. Grate the remaining chocolate and sprinkle over the top. Chill before serving.


I like rich custardy trifles at Christmas, with sherry and raspberry jam, but this looked good. It suggests that it's better the next day, but then almost all trifles are.

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