Just a trifle…



I first made a trifle many years ago when I took cooking classes at a school in Seal Beach called La Bonne Cuisine. The school is long-closed but I still treasure many of the recipes from that experience.

The original English trifle dates back to the 16th Century. Over time, all sorts of variations have appeared. This recipe uses sherry to flavor and moisturize the cake but the Scots’ version, Tipsy Laird, uses Drambuie or whiskey. There is a Creole version that uses rum to moisten the cake and an elegant French version that uses brandy.  Whatever the version, this dessert is rich and delicious. Hardly a trifle.

Recently, I posted a recipe for Maida Heatter’s 62nd Street Lemon Cake on Blue Cayenne. Being that I’m a party of one and the cake was a big cake, I found myself with a lot of leftovers. Making a trifle seemed like a good way to use my leftovers.

As a side note, when I’m not cooking I’m in my garden. My Cymbidium orchids are in full bloom right now and the flower in this photograph is one of the blooms from my Cymbidium tracyanum, my absolute favorite orchid. It doesn’t get a lot more exotic or beautiful than a tracyanum. It is fragrant, too.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Trifle

2 C. fruit (I sued raspberries, strawberries and blackberries)
Sugar to taste
Half a left-over lemon cake (or two packages of lady fingers or pound cake)
Raspberry Jam
Vanilla custard (I used an English product,  Bird’s Custard Mix, available many supermarkets–locally available at Stater Brothers)
Toasted, sliced almonds


Sprinkle the berries with sugar and let them sit for about an hour.

Cut the cake into 1/2 inch slices and spread with raspberry jam. Sandwich slices together. Alternatively, you can use ladyfingers or pound cake.

Line the bottom and half way up the slides of your trifle bowl with the cake. Sprinkle cake generously with sherry (6 T. or more) and any juices you have in the bowl of berries. The cake should be quite moist. Place the fruit over the cake.

Make the custard according to the directions on the Bird package. Alternatively, you can make your own custard. Pour the custard over the cake. Chill overnight.

If you chose to make your own custard, here is a recipe:

1 1/2 T. cornstarch
2 C. milk or cream
1/4 C. sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 egg yolks

Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 C. milk to form a paste. Heate remaining milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil. Pour the milk/sugar mixture onto the cornstarch mixture and stir. Return mixture to the pan and cook, stirring constantly,  until it thickens. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and egg yolks. Cool slightly and then pour over the fruit and cake in the bowl. Chill overnight.

When ready to serve, cover the top of the trifle with whipped cream and decorate with more berries and toasted sliced almonds.

Cook’s Notes: I sieved my custard to be sure I had a really smooth custard with no lumps before pouring it over the cake and berries.

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