The whole Northern Hemisphere Christmas theme just really doesn’t make sense when we try and replicate it down here. I mean, do we really need a stinking hot turkey on a stinking hot day? Why must we swelter and try and stuff ourselves with heavy rich Christmas Pudding? Ok, so not everyone tries to do this, and I’m a big fan of seafood platter entree on Chrissy day. I will however demand that, next to my beloved Pavlova, is a trifle in all it’s stodgy podgy creamy glory.
My Narnie (grandmother) made awesome trifles. All 30+ plus of us grandkids loved them. Perhaps the sherry was her secret weapon in ensuring we all piped down for the afternoon after our massive hangi feast and sugar highs? ;)
When we lived in the UK I relished the thought of making a trifle in it’s correct setting. It had to be a traditional English trifle too, no jelly crystals and Edmonds custard powder for me!
I searched Google and came across this recipe developed for the Great British Menu by chef Galton Blackiston, owner of Morston Hall, an 18th century brick-and-flint manor house which he restored and transformed into a hotel and restaurant in 1991. That sounded traditional English enough for me!
English trifle with a sorbet of Norfolk raspberries and sugared nuts
I have made this trifle twice now and it is not a recipe for the fainthearted. Here are all the components that make this delectable dessert:
Sponge – handmade of course (but I always cheat and buy it or use sponge fingers)
Sugar syrup – made with sparkling rosé wine!
Raspberry sorbet – to serve with the trifle, not actually in it. I’ve never bothered to make it because I don’t have an icecream machine!
Rosé and Raspberry jelly – again made with sparkling rosé wine and fresh raspberries
English custard – made from scratch and flavoured with heavenly (and expensive) vanilla bean
Sugared nuts – pinenuts, almonds, hazlenuts and pecans candied with icing sugar and Grand Marnier (yum!)
A trifle wouldn’t be a trifle of course without generous amounts of Marsala, raspberry jam and whipped cream!
It is all put together like this:
- Sponge, soaked in Marsala
- Spread with jam
- Spoon over rosé and raspberry jelly
- Pour on the custard
- Top with lashings of whipped cream
- Sprinkle with chopped sugared nuts
It’s not an easy recipe, but it’s an experience, it’s fun and my God it is to die for!
My top 5 tips for not stuffing it up
- Buy the sponge, but buy good quality, and save yourself a step
- The recipe calls for leaf gelatine which is not easy to find. It is also not easy to know what ‘strength’ it is, so err on the side of caution and use less rather than more. A slightly sloppy jelly is better than one that is like rubber.
- Don’t over boil the raspberries or the rosé syrup or you will reduce it by too much. You want more liquid than less so that your trifle is nice and moist. If you get caught out, just add more rosé from the bottle (if you haven’t drunk it all ;))
- Don’t skimp on the quality of the ingredients. If you’re going to go through the trouble of making this awesome trifle, you want it to taste awesome too!
- Don’t try and make it all on the day you are going to eat it. The nuts can be done in advance and kept in an airtight container. Make the jelly and custard and once cool assemble the trifle and leave overnight for all the flavours to meld together. Add the nuts just before serving or they will go soggy!
If you attempt it, good luck! It is a truly delicious trifle.
1 A controversial meringue based dessert invented in NZ or Australia (depending on which side of the Tasman you stand on ;))
2 Big feast of meat and vege cooked in a Maori underground oven
3 Famous NZ producer of baking ingredients and the much loved Edmonds Cook Book
I’m linking up with Kate from Puddles and Gumboots where you’ll find lots of other great ideas for making Magical Christmas Memories