January 6, 2007 - Joanne (updated Nov., 2009)


Recipe: Not-so Traditional English Trifle with Raspberries

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The trifle of my childhood memory had fruit cocktail and Jello as a component (shiver).  But trifle is an underrated dessert. It can be marvelous at the end of a big dinner or as a brunch dessert or at a holiday gathering. It’s also a great make-ahead dessert. You can divide your tasks up and on the day of the party all you have to do is add whipped cream and a garnish. Plus trifle gets better with a day or so in the fridge, so you actually should to make it ahead. This one relies on just one fruit – raspberries.

The last time I made it, we served it at a holiday gathering to rave reviews (in fact I still get people fondl reminiscing).

Traditional English Trifle
We made the Victoria Sponge cake from scratch for this trifle but you can buy good quality white or yellow pound cake (even Angel food might work). I’ve seen trifle made with fruitcake as well but you’d want to be very sure you had a lovely fruitcake to begin with. Use the best sources you can for fruit. I found that a combination of types of fruit, example, fresh, frozen and preserved make for a nice dimension to the trifle. I’ve made trifle for dinner parties twice and had great reception. Both times were winter trifles and so I used frozen raspberries.

I suggest you use a big glass bowl. A trifle bowl is traditionally footed and clear so that you can see the layers. You do not have to use a clear bowl but you will need a large bowl.

2x - 8-9” Victoria Sponge cakes or cake of your choice*
8c of Honey Custard – or other custard
2x – 8oz packages of Frozen raspberries at room temperature
1 8oz jar of good quality berry preserves*
1 pint of fresh berries – optional with fresh mint leaves (to garnish)
½c Brandy (or sherry which is more traditional – Oloroso)

Trifle cake pieces layered
* I chose Olallieberry and Raspberry, but anything good quality will work.

Pour the brandy over the frozen raspberries.

Split the Victoria Sponges in half horizontally using a cake or bread knife. It’s okay if they break but try to end up with big pieces. Spread the halves with jam and reassemble. Then cut into large triangles making sure that the exposed edges show a nice line of jam in the middle.

In your chosen bowl, place a layer of frozen raspberries on the bottom (about 1/3 of them), then place the 1/2 triangle sandwiches of cake on top, with the cut sides pressed against the sides of the glass bowl (so that you see them). Spoon another 1/3 of the raspberries on top and then 1/2 of the custard. Repeat with another cake layer and then the other 1/2 custard and remaining raspberries. If you have too much cake you can eat it with a nice cup of tea.

Press down on the top  to compress the mixture and then pour the brandy/raspberry juice over the top. If the bowl is too full you can use a long skewer or knife in the center to make “holes” for the custard to seep down.

Garnish the Trifle
Place all in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours) and then just before serving top with freshly whipped cream (about a pint) and garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves.
Tifle layers show through the glass bowl

Make Ahead Trifle - The Plan:

Three Days before Serving:
Day 2 make the Victoria Sponge Cake
Day 1 make the Honey Custard and chill, then assemble
Serving Day -  top with fresh whipped cream and serve

Layering Trifle
Raspberries - Frozen
Raynal Brandy VSOP

Options: You can also use slivered almonds in this trifle to add another dimension.

I've seen recipes which puree the raspberries and then fold them into whipped cream to get another dimension to the layering (in addition to or instead of the custard). I've seen recipes which use marscapone with raspberry puree. I would imagine Devon or Clotted Cream would also work.

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