I have discovered that it is quite hard to take a good photo of a trifle. All that cream on top is boring to look at. But this trifle was not boring to eat. I am not an inveterate trifle maker, I think I made one for Christmas about 7 years ago, but I do love a good trifle. It was my Dad’s birthday and I felt the need to make a trifle to act as one of the many desserts we had that day (the list also included chocolate roulade, Christmas pudding, apple pie, syrup steamed pudding, baked apple and chocolate fudge cake – well there were twenty people to feed and we like to put on a spread.)
A trifle is a fairly easy thing to make but it does take quite a bit of time to assemble all the parts and there does need to be time to allow each layer to settle. I started mine on the Friday to serve on the Sunday. On friday I made the madeira cake, on saturday morning I soaked the cake with sherry, placed the tinned orange segments on top and made the jelly. On saturday evening I made the custard and on Sunday morning I whisked the cream for the top, and then just before serving I sprinkled generously with hundreds and thousands because a trifle isn’t a trifle without this addition.
If you are a proper foodiephile then the notion of putting jelly and tinned fruit into a trifle and then topping it with hundreds and thousands may send you a little frantic with worry, but this is my trifle and I like it this way (and it tastes delicious and brings back memories of childhood Christmases. Although I am pretty sure that it would have been Rowntree jelly and Bird’s custard back then, but feel free to use these if you want to take the even easier route towards trifle perfection).
This time I used a lemon flavoured madeira cake, tinned orange segments and made a jelly from orange juice to lend a citrus theme to my jelly, but you could spread raspberry jam thickly over the sponge before drowning in sherry and make a berry flavoured jelly. Or, if you must be sophisticated, then you could spread the jam, and miss out the tinned fruit and jelly altogether – it will be trifle, just not as I know it.
For the lemony madeira cake (adapted from Jill Brand’s Best Kept Secrets of The Women’s Institute Cakes and Biscuits):
For a 15cm square tin or an 18cm round tin, greased and lined with baking parchment.
115g (40z) softened butter
115g (40z) caster sugar
165g (6oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Cream the butter and the sugar together until really light and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mixture one at a time. Sieve the flour and the baking powder together into the bowl and gently fold in with the zest and juice of the lemon.
Pour the mixture into the tin and cook in a preheated oven at 160°c or gas mark 3, or on the grid shelf placed on the floor of the baking oven of the four-oven Aga for about 1 hour. It is ready when a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cake is completely cool, cut it into slices that will fit neatly into the bottom of your trifle dish and the cover liberally with a good sherry. I used 150ml over my sponge.
Once the sherry has had time to soak in, drain a tin of mandarin segments and place these on top of the sponge. It’s a good idea to place some against the sides of the bowl so that they can be seen when all is assembled.
For the orange jelly (taken from The River Cottage Family Cookbook):
The juice of about 6 oranges – enough to make just below 600ml.
the juice of 1 lemon
50g icing sugar
4 leaves of gelatine ( but check pack instructions as they can differ, you need enough to set 600ml of liquid)
half mug of just boiled water
Combine the juice of the lemon and the oranges with the icing sugar. Place the gelatine leaves in the half mug of just boiled water and stir until dissolved. Pour the gelatine water into the orange juice and stir well. It should now make 600ml of liquid. Pour this jelly over the sponge and oranges and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight until set.
For the custard (recipe taken from Delia Smith’s How to Cook, Book One):
570ml (1 pint) double cream
1 vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
1 dessertspoon cornflour
50g (2oz) caster sugar
Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds and place these into the cream, along with the pod. Heat the cream over a gentle heat until just below simmering point. Whilst that is happening whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl. Pour the hot cream over the egg mixture whisking all the time to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Pour the whole lot back into the pan and back onto the gentle heat stirring all the time. The custard will thicken and it should coat the back of a spoon, so that when you run your finger down the spoon the line where you did this is clear. Pour the custard into a bowl and stir for a minute or so until cool, sprinkle a little sugar over the top to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool completely.
Pour the custard over the jelly layer of the trifle, sprinkle with a little more sugar and place back in the fridge.
Whisk 600ml (1 pint) of double cream until softly whipped and spread over the custard layer. Sprinkle over your choice of decorations just before serving.