Trifle (or wet cake and custard)

To start my adventures in food blogging I feel I must set my stall out early on an issue which has been vexing me ever since I read this. The offending article suggests that a trifle should not contain jelly. It is not the first time the Guardian has been so delibrately provocative. Indeed, only a year ago did the good Felicity Cloake assert that a trifle should be jellyless and back in 2009 they worried whether jelly was a class issue. Class issue my hundreds and thousands covered arse. It’s a basic food issue. If it hasn’t got a layer of jelly then it’s just soggy cake, covered in a creamy custardy splodge-theres no structural integrity, no definition, in short it’s a disaster.

Now, bringing this most sumptous and alcohol laden of puddings into discussion in a month where most people seem to be not drinking/intermittenly fasting may seem perverse. But I refuse to believe January should be a time for misery and besides I reeallly want to show off the trifle I made over the New Year, of which I am still inordinately proud. It involved a whole day’s setting and TURNING OUT, which, if it had failed, would have left me with the above mentioned splodge and no reason to feel self-righteous and class-warriorish about how you should eat trifle.


The recipe comes from Good Food-it was their cover recipe last month. The top layer is cream, sherry  and marscapone, then custard then jelly (at which point the trifle becomes a trifle-like Frankenstein’s monster coming to life), with madeira cake stuck in the bottom. There’s no mince and peas.

All the setting layers either need gelatine or slightly less liquid to make them sturdy and I was worried the whole thing might turn out a bit like a giant rubber chewtoy but while they were definitely firm there was no excessive chewing needed. It was a fairly forgiving recipe all in all, I overdid the cream in the top layer by about 50 ml (and would do again-means I can measure it out in a handy 250 ml Nigella cup) and not at all as tricky as it looks. Gelatine always seems to put people off, when in fact it is the easiest, most delightfully squelchy thing made out of hooves that I can imagine-just soak it cold water, mix in the warm stuff you need to set, don’t boil and trust it to work its wobbly  magic.

What I would change is the cake on the bottom, Madeira cake is too moist and cakey. You really do need those dry sponge fingers which aren’t good for much else, and soak them in more sherry, this trifle’s tough, it can take it. I also didn’t put extra cream on top (I can’t pipe! And cream is my least favourite bit of a trifle, Grandmother-in-law made an excellent, very sherryfied, very jellyfied trifle over christmas with no cream on top-you poured over your own. A revelation.)

There’s a few grapes in there in a nod to the fruit cocktail you get in a tin but nothing else even approaching healthy. We ate it between two of us in two days and were fully prepared for all January had to throw at us.


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