Dessert Week

Just a Trifle

A trifle is a traditional dessert for holidays, Sundays, family dinners, and special occasions.  With 8th grade graduation coming up in our house, this seems like a great time to make a celebration dessert!  Layers of cake, jam, custard and whippy stuff makes this a delightful sweet and summery combination, like American strawberry shortcakes….but more Britishy.

There are 3 parts to this treat–first the jam, since that needs time to set up.  I had a couple cups of strawberries that were getting close to needing to be tossed, so I jammed them.  I think I used equal parts sugar and berries and then a half-packet of pectin, just letting them simmer for 15 minutes or so, then let it cool.  Put it in a jar and stick it in the fridge.

Then the custard.  Now, most Brits use Bird’s instant custard, which I was able to pick up recently at the grocery store, so I thought I’d give it a try to see how much easier it is and how different it tastes. I have made custard from scratch a couple times, so this is a new experience.  Putting it together is SO easy.  The most difficult part was reading the teeeny tiny directions on the container.

A couple tablespoons of powder, a couple tablespoons of sugar (less, if you prefer it less sweet) and 2 cups of milk.

Mix dry stuff with just a couple tablespoons of milk to create an orange paste, then mix the rest of the milk in.

Stick in the microwave for 3 minutes on high, then give it a stir.

Another 2-3 minutes in the microwave, stir again.  You should probably use a whisk–I used a spoon and there were chunky bits stuck to the bottom.

Set aside to cool a little, then put a bit of cling film to prevent a skin forming on the custard (or a non-zip-lock gallon baggie, which is easier for me to grab and not have to wrestle with the stupid cling film box…hate that stuff).  Allow to cool completely.

Then the cake.  I’ve read that Madeira cake is the best for this dessert, so I thought I’d try that.  You can also use pound cake, a yellow box mix cake, or probably any kind of cake you like.  The recipe I found for Madeira is here.  The recipe calls for crushed almonds, but I didn’t have any almonds, so I used a bit of almond flour.  It adds that nutty taste without being chunky, which I think is just gross.  I don’t like chunky bits in my bread (unless it’s chocolate).  I also didn’t have a fresh lemon–well, I HAD one, but the middle kid loves lemons, so there was only 1/4 lemon left.  I just used a little splash of lemon juice instead.

Nice and warm out of the oven…oh, it smells good!

Of course, traditionally the cake is soaked in alcohol, but I’m going to make this family-friendly and omit it.

But due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to complete this all in one day. Or two.  Or three.  Geesh!  While I was getting a minute or two in, I’ve been feeding the sourdough and decided there was enough to make a loaf of bread today.  I found this recipe here from the King Arthur Flour Co., which uses 2 cups of sourdough starter as well as yeast and the usual ingredients.

I wish I could tell you that it went perfectly, but of course, I was running hither and thither and had to leave unexpectedly while it was rising and didn’t get home for another 2 1/2 hours.  So it had over-proofed and collapsed.  I baked it anyway.  It tasted OK, but I’m looking forward to Thursday when I might get a chance to try it again.

Finally, it was time for assembly. I set out all the parts on the counter and set to work.

First, I cut off the edges of the cake–they seemed a little too crunchy for the trifle.

Then I cut each slice of bread into 8 cubes, using 24 cubes per layer (top layer actually has 32).

Top the cake with 1/3 of the jam and fruits, then top that with 1/3 of the custard.  Then you add the whipped cream…which I completely forgot to make.  Then repeat twice so you have layers of everything.

After putting together the first layers of bread, jam and custard, I realized that I probably should have used a smaller bowl or doubled the amount of jam and custard.  I will top the whole thing off with the whipped cream….once I make it.

I put cling film on it and put it in the fridge.  I’ll bring it out tomorrow for snacking on.

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