Traditional English Trifle

Living Magazines Traditional English Trifle

Sarah Murray at Tring’s Beechwood Fine Food brings a taste of Christmas past with her trifle recipe: ‘My mother always made a trifle at Christmas; a pack of trifle sponges, a tin of Del Monte fruit cocktail, custard made with Bird’s custard powder, lashings of whipped cream and a good soaking of sweet Sherry. ‘What, no jelly?’ I hear you cry!

‘Everyone’s family has a different take on the English classic and I am reminded of my turning point when I was served a trifle made with fresh homemade custard and fresh fruit instead of tinned.

‘Here is my recipe (with a little inspiration from Delia Smith). If you love trifle it really is worth all the effort!’

Madeira cake ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g soft butter
  • 110g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2–3 tbsp milk

Custard ingredients

  • 425ml double cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 25g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling and topping ingredients

  • 150ml sweet Sherry (fruit juice for alcohol-free)
  • Raspberry jam
  • 300g frozen raspberries (defrosted)
  • 325ml double cream
  • 40g toasted flaked almonds

> 1kg loaf tin greased and lined with baking parchment for the Madeira cake
> Non-stick saucepan for the custard
> Large glass serving bowl
> Oven 170C/Gas 3/fan oven 150C
> Serves 8-10

Make the cake

  1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the rest of the cake ingredients except the milk. Mix with an electric hand whisk until you have a smooth consistency. Then add the milk, a tablespoon at a time until you have a creamy consistency.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, levelling it off with the back of a tablespoon, and bake on a lower shelf of the oven for about one hour or until it feels springy in the centre. Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Make the custard

  1. Place the cream in a pan over a very gentle heat and warm it, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until it is just simmering. While the cream is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla in a bowl. Then, whisking the egg mixture all the time with one hand, gradually pour the hot cream into the bowl.
  2. When you’ve added all the cream return the whole lot to the saucepan and put over the same gentle heat and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until the custard is thick and smooth. Don’t leave it or stop stirring as the custard will very readily stick or burn.
  3. Pour the custard into a clean bowl and cover the surface with cling film. Leave to cool.

Construct the Trifle

  1. Cut the Madeira cake into slices approx 1cm thick, spread with raspberry jam and sandwich together. Cut the sandwiches in half and place in your glass bowl on their edge so you can see the seam of jam. Cover the whole of the bottom of the bowl and carefully pour over the sherry trying not to splash the sides of the bowl. Leave to allow the alcohol to be absorbed.
  2. Scatter the raspberries over the sponges and pour over any juices. Pour the cooled custard over the fruit.
  3. Whip the remaining double cream until thick but not stiff. It should be a similar consistency to your custard. Spoon over the top of your trifle and spread carefully. Finally, sprinkle with the flaked almonds, cover and chill until ready to serve.

With thanks to Sarah Murray from Beechwood Fine Foods in Tring.

Download the recipe.