The Great British Trifle

union jack trifle

I love trifle; yet it seems to me that there are as many recipes for trifle as there are people who make it. This is not the case. A trifle must have certain things in it or it is quite simply not a trifle. How you vary it is up to you, but it has to have the following, in layers, in this order:

Sponge The base of the trifle is always sponge cake, usually in fingers but you may find it easier to shape your sponge to your bowl. Some people soak the sponge in sherry for the classic sherry trifle; some don’t. The sponge is, however, essential to the structure of the trifle, so you can’t forget it.

Jelly This can be any flavour, and as alcoholic as you want. I grew up with brightly coloured trifles, so bright red strawberry or raspberry jelly would be my choice, or lime green for Halloween. I’m giving myself ideas now. Leave this to set before you put the next layer on.

Custard Once the jelly has set, you can add the custard, which should be cooked through but added warm to the trifle. Custard is usually yellow, but I’ve seen trifles with pink custard, chocolate custard – I’m sure my Halloween trifle will end up with black custard.

Cream This ought to be whipped to soft peaks and spread over the top of the custard to cover the trifle. I don’t believe in leaving the custard exposed, that’s how it gets a skin and nobody likes that. Besides, if you don’t cover the top of the trifle, how are you going to decorate it?

Decoration Now here’s where your imagination can run riot. You can decorate the trifle with pretty much anything; fruit, hundreds and thousands, edible flowers, whatever you like. And then the best part – eating it!

Writing all of this has made me hungry now. What better excuse do I need to practice dying my custard for a Halloween trifle?


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