Summer trifle

by mimithorisson

Making trifles is like writing poetry. You can adapt to any season, add any ingredients you like and play around with different textures. It’s such a creative dessert, so scrumptuous and beautiful to look at, and most of all, so delicious. When I lived in London as a student, I loved all the cult classics, like scotch eggs, pork pies, Eton mess and berry trifles. I’ll always remember when I discovered trifles at Marks & Spencers. I loved the yellow custard colours, mixed with deep berry reds and all that whipped cream. It became my favourite English food discovery and I shall always have fond memories of those little delights. When I go back to London I just can’t help myself – I have to buy some for old time’s sake! They are so good!

Trifles are exactly the kind of desserts I would like to be served at a dinner party. They look like little see-through cabinets of curiosity, lavishly layered with all the best that summer has to offer, berries, cream, custard and cake, we can all pitch in and scoop for the best.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

You can either make one large trifle or individual portions, perfect for dinner parties.

1 madeira sponge cake
300 g rhubarb (cooked or frozen)
350 g strawberries (halved)
Whipped cream (see below)
Custard cream (see below)
8 tbsp strawberry jam
Flaked toasted almonds (grill on a non-stick frying pan for 4-5 minutes or until golden – do not add any oil)

Chop rhubarb, discard the ends, and boil in water (just enough to cover the rhubarb) and 30 g caster sugar for 8-10 minutes. Keep the syrup-like rhubarb liquid, drain the rhubard and leave to cool. Set aside. Wash strawberries and slice as desired.

Sponge cake:
125g self-raising flour
125g butter or margarine, softened
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
3 tbsp madeira wine

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350F

Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale. Beat in the eggs and madeira. Sift over the flour and fold in using a large spoon. Spread the dough in the cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a ‘test-knife’ comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Set aside

Custard filling:
280 ml full cream milk
2 eggs yolks
70 g/ 3 oz caster sugar
30 g/ 1 oz corn starch
1 tsp vanilla essence

In a saucepan, add milk, sugar, vanilla essence and bring to a simmer. Stir well and take off the heat. Add the egg yolks and whisk continuously. Drizzle the corn starch and whisk again – put on a low heat, for 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to a thick creamy sauce. Set aside and leave to cool.

Whipped cream:
250 ml/1 cup whipping cream
20 g/ 4 tsp icing sugar

Whip cream (I use electric whisks), add the sugar after 30 seconds and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Set aside in freezer until you need to use it.

When all your ingredients are ready and cooled, you can start assembling the trifle. In a large glass bowl, or individual bowls, cut small cubes of the sponge cake, spread a layer of strawberry jam, drizzle with the reserved rhubarb syrup, sprinkle a layer of rhubarb, strawberries, custard, whipped cream. Repeat layering as desired and finish with the toasted almonds.