Saturday, 12 July 2014

Raspberry Trifle

Trifle features a lot in people's food memories either positively or negatively. It seems to bring on fairly extreme reactions, a little like tripe or marmite, and I find it odd given that it's a sweet dish, with basically most of the greatest food elements (although granted no bacon) known to woman: cake, a splash of liquor, custard, cream, almonds, jelly or some kind of jamminess, and yes, if you like, some fruit.

My own trifle memories are of the Christmas day variety. Sherry trifle was always on the table, my Granny's contribution (if my memory serves me well) to the festivities whether she was running the main event or she brought it over to ours. There was, I seem to remember, a kind of illicit thrill to the consumption of something with alcohol in it, a hesitance on my parents' part to allow me to have too much.

I've steered away from trifle myself, not from any dislike, but perhaps a reluctance to try and replicate that which is an integral part of my memory when the originator of said trifle is no longer here to pester for the exact contents. Much as I enjoyed it, I can't actually remember what went into Granny's trifle, excepts for a whipped cream layer sprinkled with flaked almonds. Flaked almonds are one of my most favourite things in the world - anything almondy really ( my love of marzipan is well documented on these virtual pages).

I've availed myself of Nigella's deconstructed lemon trifle from Domestic Goddess a couple of times - essentially a very drizzled lemon loaf cake which you slice onto a plate and smother in a lemon syllabub type thing and raspberries. It's very good, but not really trifle.

Anyway, as I was explaining the other day, we had some of the Husband's colleagues over for a BBQ - the weather gods smiled on us as did the BBQ gods, and all was right with the world. I'd dug out some Good Food mags for pudding inspiration and when Blue saw this recipe, there was little chance I was going to be able to make anything else. He begged, he pleaded, he sustained the campaign for several days. He won.

I made the original recipe first time round, making double the custard and using that to sandwich together a Swedish Summer Cake (also a Nigella). As an aside, I made the Summer Cake before, following her recipe for custard (it's in Kitchen - it's worth buying the book for that recipe alone), but found the custard very runny - pornographically so. This custard is a thicker affair, and worked well. Also, I wimped out and only sliced the cake into 2 layers, not 3, but I was well pleased with the results.

But back to trifle. So I made the cherry trifle, and very easy and satisfactory it was too, but I wanted to see what it would be like with raspberries (need you ask?). Raspberries are one of my favourites - they are also Pink's favourites, and after indulging the boy's cherry dreams, I thought I'd suck up to her a bit.

Yes, I made the madeira cake, and yes, you make the custard - you could buy both, even Mary Berry in the original recipe countenances the possibility - but actually, I'm finding less and less time to tinker in the kitchen, and this was a welcome excuse to shut myself away, fiddle about, make a mess and create something lovely. And that is as good a reason as any to make this.

And just one point about the custard. I'm all for skin on custard, but not here when you want to pour it over the trifle later. I will argue the toss with you.

Raspberry Trifle

50g caster sugar
50g cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
400ml full fat milk
200ml double cream

450g raspberries
340g raspberry jam - as good quality as you can afford
450g Madeira cake - you can buy this, or make your own - I used Nigella's fantastic recipe from Domestic Goddess which will make more than you need, but that's no hardship.
100ml raspberry liqueur - chambord or the like, or use some decent dry sherry
5 large amaretti biscuits
300ml lightly whipped double cream

Make the custard first. Combine sugar, cornflour and vanilla in a mixing bowl, then add the eggs & yolk and whisk together till smooth. This is important - get the lumps out of the way at this stage.

Pour the milk and cream into a large pan (large enough to take everything in it) and gently heat - but don't let it boil.

When the liquid is hot, pour over the eggy mixture and whisk vigorously till all combined, then rinse out the pan to remove any scum.

Put the pan back on a gentle heat and pour the custard back in, then stirring continuously, bring back up to heat until the custard has thickened and is smooth. If the custard looks like it's going lumpy at ay stage during the heating process, just keep stirring - it should smooth out again.

Pour the custard into a jug and put a piece of clingfilm pressed onto the top of the custard to stop skin forming while it cools down.

Put about 400g of the raspberries into a small pan with half the jam and gently heat up till everything softens and melds together. Stir occasionally just to make sure it doesn't stick and burn - do keep the heat low. After about 10 mins remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

Slice your madeira cake up into 1cm slices, and sandwich the slices together with the rest of the jam - we're talking generous smothering here.

Lay these sandwiches into the bottom of your trifle dish (this recipe calls for one around 20cm in diameter and quite deep), then splash the alcohol over, ensuring all is covered.

Pour and smooth the raspberry jam sauce over the cake, then break the amaretti biscuits over the top in quite big pieces.

Smooth the cooled custard over this, then lightly whip the cream and spread over the custard, Decorate with the reserved raspberries  you could also sprinkle some chopped/flaked almonds over the top too...


  1. Quality trifle there. Elinor x

  2. I can't believe I have never made a trifle before!! This looks amazing!

    1. It's one of those things - you should really give it a go!

  3. oh boy... this looks so amazing. Funnily enough I really didn't like trifle as a kid growing up. I think it was the thick set custard I had an aversion to but I adore it now and my neighbour always makes us one at Christmas.... yours really looks exceptionally good!

    1. It's funny isn't it, how we carry food memories with us - I am a total convert now. And because you can make the different elements up in advance it's a pretty good 'entertaining' dessert - just an assembly jo on the day - or even the day before

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