There are many different recipes for a trifle but a sherry-soaked sponge first brings to mind the traditional English trifle. The delicious flavour of raspberries make this the fruit of choice with a silky, smooth custard topped with dollops of whipped cream and then decorated with more raspberries and toasted flaked almonds. Just a heavenly dessert.
480ml (16 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¾ cups)
14g (½ oz) toasted flaked almonds
icing/powdered sugar for dusting
For the custard
3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
3 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g (3 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
600ml (20 fl oz) milk (2½ cups)
You will also need a large, flat-based glass serving bowl for this dish. Alternatively, if you need fewer than 6 servings, you can make these trifles in individual dishes (as seen in the photograph), reducing the quantities of ingredients in proportion as needed.
First make the custard. Whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour/cornstarch, vanilla, sugar, and three tablespoons of the milk.
Heat the remaining milk in a small pan and, as it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and whisk into the egg mixture. Now pour this back into the pan and, over a gentle heat, stir until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour into a jug and cover the surface of the custard with cling film/wrap to prevent it forming a skin, then leave to cool.
Now to make the trifle. You will need enough of the cake to cover the base of the serving dish and be about 2.5cm (1 inch) deep. Slice the cake in half horizontally and then spread one half with the raspberry conserve. Now sandwich back together and lay in the base of the serving bowl, cutting it to fit as necessary.
Scatter ⅔ of the raspberries over the sponge, reserving the rest for decoration.
Now spoon the sherry over the sponge and raspberries, top with the custard, smoothing the surface, and then chill for at least one hour.
Whip the cream until it just holds its shape and dollop spoonfuls over the custard but this time don’t smooth the top.
Decorate with the reserved raspberries and toasted almonds then, just before serving, dust the top with icing/powdered sugar.
For chocoholics in the family, this is a delectable chocolate cake. The chocolate flavoured sponge is very light and and the chocolate icing is a little fudgy and is used as a filling too. Of course, you have to finish it off with more chocolate, and slivers of chocolate are used decorate the top. The only non-chocolate addition is apricot jam that is used before adding the icing and this makes it more moist.
good quality plain/dark chocolate for the decoration
You will also need 2 x 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased.
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Blend the cocoa powder with the hot water in a small bowl and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. (Either use a free-standing mixer or electric hand mixer.) Add the butter, sugar, and eggs. Then drizzle the cooled cocoa mixture over the top. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 35–40 minutes. The cakes should have shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin and will spring back when lightly pressed with a forefinger.
Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove, peeling off the lining, and cool on a wire rack.
For the filling, icing and decoration
Place the chocolate for the decoration in the refrigerator to become cold as it will be easier to work with.
Now for the filling and icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
Put the butter in a medium-sized pan and melt over a low heat. As soon as it has melted, mix in the cocoa powder and cook over a very low heat for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk. Add the icing/powdered sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time, beating well between each addition. You may not need all the sugar. Just add enough to make a coating consistency.
Leave to cool a little while preparing the apricot glaze.
You can buy apricot glaze in a jar in the U.K. which is ready to use, so just warm through about 6 tablespoons. In Canada, not being able to find apricot glaze, I use apricot jam. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water to 6 tablespoons of apricot jam to thin it a little, and gently heat to warm through. The jam will now be of a consistency to pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit.
Invert one of the sponge layers and place on a serving plate. Using a palette knife, carefully coat the top with about a quarter of the glaze, then top with two good tablespoonfuls of the icing. Spread evenly over the jam.
Place the second cake on top and gently press down. Spread the sides and top with the remaining glaze using just enough to coat. Then spread the remaining icing over the whole cake.
Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and, over a plate, pull a potato peeler along the long smooth edge. This will make tiny slivers of chocolate. You will need about 28g (1 oz). Scatter these on top of the cake to decorate.