How to make a proper trifle
Not a soggy sponge or lumpy custard in sight, this trifle is a joy to eat, so add it to your Christmas repertoire and you’ll have guests coming back for more.
You will need…
- 12 clementines
- 50g caster sugar
- 4 tbsp amaretto
- Amaretti biscuits to sprinkle
- Whole skin-on almonds, halved or roughly chopped, to sprinkle
For the sponge
- 100g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 100g self-raising flour
- 30g ground almonds
For the custard
- 300ml whole milk
- 175ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 6 medium free-range egg yolks (see tips)
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 40g cornflour
For the amaretto cream
- 500ml double cream
- 50ml amaretto
- 100g icing sugar, sifted
- Heat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/ gas 4. For the sponge, grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking paper. Beat the butter and 100g sugar with an electric hand mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the 2 whole eggs, one by one. Fold in the flour and ground almonds, then pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out dry. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
- For the custard, put the milk and the 175ml cream in a non-stick pan with the vanilla seeds and pod. Bring to the boil. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and golden caster sugar using a balloon whisk until pale and thick. Whisk in the cornflour. Gradually pour over the hot milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Return to the cleaned pan and cook over a low heat, stirring, until very thick and glossy. Don’t let it boil, but let it get thicker than you think it needs to be; you should be able to see the bottom of the pan as you stir (it could take 10 minutes). Pour into a bowl and press cling film onto the surface. Cool, then chill.
- Slice the ends off the clementines and peel with a serrated knife, then cut into 0.5cm thick rounds.
- Melt the 50g caster sugar with 2 tbsp water in a large pan. Without stirring, turn up the heat and bubble until golden and syrupy. Stir in the 4 tbsp amaretto; it may seize (harden) but will melt again. Take off the heat, add the fruit and leave to macerate for 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Strain the fruit (keep the syrup) and arrange in the base and up the sides (1 slice high) of a 1.5 litre trifle dish. Trim the sponge to fit on top, drizzle over as much syrup as you like, then spoon on the custard.
- Just before serving, whip the amaretto cream ingredients with a balloon whisk to just short of soft peaks, then spoon on top of the custard. Crumble over the amaretti biscuits, sprinkle on the almonds, then serve.
- Next time, try using pears or apples with brandy or calvados and toasted hazelnuts.
- Make the sponge up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight container, or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw.
- Macerate the clementines in the caramel for up to 24 hours. Make the custard in advance and chill.
- There are many stages to a trifle, so if you’re pushed for time, read the recipe and see what you can prepare in advance.
- Whipping the cream with an electric hand mixer is faster than using a balloon whisk, but it can turn from perfect to grainy in just a few turns of the whisk. We like to whip the old fashioned way, by hand, as it gives greater control and you get a better feel for the texture and resistance of the cream (not to mention a good workout for your arms!).