Traditional English trifle
- December 2022
- Serves 6-8
- Hands-on time 30 min, plus at least 2 hours chilling.
Raspberry jelly, thick vanilla custard, sherry-soaked sponge fingers and pillowy mounds of whipped cream: it’s the ultimate traditional trifle recipe.
- 44.7g (26.2g saturated)
- 39.7g (33.1g sugars)
- 135g raspberry jelly cubes (we used Hartley’s)
- 150g frozen raspberries
- 400g double cream
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 15-20 sponge fingers
- 4 tbsp cream or dry sherry
- Sprinkles, to decorate
For the custard
- 300g whole milk
- 175g double cream
- 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 6 medium free-range egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g cornflour
- 1.5 litre glass bowl or trifle dish
- Add the jelly cubes to a heatproof bowl or jug and pour over 285ml of boiling water, stirring until the cubes dissolve. Top up with another 285ml of cold water, stir again, then pour the mixture into your serving bowl or dish. (If you’re using a different brand of jelly cubes, double-check the packaging and follow the manufacturer’s instructions – you’re looking for approximately a pint of jelly in total). Add the frozen raspberries (which will help quicken the cooling process as a bonus), then put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours, or until the jelly is set (you can pop it in the freezer if you’re short on time).
- To make the custard, put the milk and cream in a saucepan with the split vanilla pod and seeds (or paste). Put over a low-medium heat and gradually bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until thick, then whisk in the cornflour. Gradually pour the hot milk and cream over the eggs, whisking constantly until smooth. Return the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring all the while, for 5-6 minutes or until thick, glossy and beginning to thicken (remember it will thicken further as it cools, so don’t cook it until it’s almost solid). Remove from the heat, fish out the vanilla pod (if using; see Don’t Waste It) and cover with baking paper, ensuring the paper is resting on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool completely, then chill.
- Whip the cream and sugar to soft peaks using an electric whisk. Once the jelly has set, arrange the sponge fingers neatly in the trifle dish, snapping them in half where needed and creating a sort of fence against the glass. Arrange a single layer of sponge fingers in the centre, then drizzle over the sherry. Top with the custard, followed by the whipped cream. Decorate with sprinkles and serve.
Can I use ready-made custard instead?
Absolutely. If you use ready-made custard you’ll need around 600ml.
Next time: How you layer your trifle is up to you – we always begin with the jelly, as it needs the longest time to set, then go cake, custard, cream. But if you like your cake in the jelly, or custard before cake, it’s all good; after all, once it’s spooned into your bowl it doesn’t really matter anyway.
Don’t waste it: If you’re using the vanilla pod in the custard, give it a good wash, dry it out, then pop it in a jar of sugar to create vanilla sugar for future bakes.
The jelly layer can be made up to 2 days in advance. Try to make it at least the night before – the beauty of trifle is that it’s actually very easy – you just need to have the time to let everything firm up. So don’t add unnecessary stress with half-set jelly!
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