The signature “bake” this week on the Great British Bake Off was the humble trifle. One of my all-time favourites which I make instead of Christmas pudding every year. When I was a child my mother would cook a roast dinner every Sunday. Most weeks she would bake a cake, usually from a packet mix and I would get to lick the bowl. She would also make a trifle for dessert. This too was from a packet, the good old Bird’s trifle. I loved the cream and the custard but I was never very keen on the jelly layer. However, this became my idea of the perfect trifle and when I made my own trifles, not from a packet, they never quite tasted the same. I watched with interest when Heston Blumenthal was in Pursuit of Perfection and attempted to make the ultimate trifle. It was a long and complicated recipe but I did try a couple of his ideas. For instance, beating some ground tapioca into the cream makes it taste remarkably like “Dream Topping”. Another little thing I tried was adding a layer of black olive jam but I’m not sure that was my idea of a perfect trifle.
As you may expect the contestants on the bake-off produced a wide range of exotic desserts, not really my cup of tea. If it hasn’t got hundreds and thousands on the top, it’s not a trifle as far as I’m concerned. In fact I rarely even add a glass of sherry. I always bake my trifle sponges a few days in advance and they freeze well. I use a simple fatless sponge or alternatively a Swiss roll recipe is perfect. In fact the last time I made a Swiss roll I couldn’t fit all the batter onto the tin so I poured the leftover into tea cake moulds and they made the cutest little sponges yet.
- 2 eggs
- 110g caster sugar
- 45g plain flour
- 25g cornflour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat thoroughly
- Grease and line a small cake tin
- Pour the mixture into the tin and bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch
- Turn out on a wire rack to cool
For the custard I use one of Delia’s recipes which includes cornflour. If it gets over-heated and goes horribly wrong, just tip in a clean bowl, beat well with a whisk and it should return to a smooth custard. The jelly layer is made up of whatever fruit I have to hand. I usually simmer it in a little water then add 3 sheets of gelatine to get it to set. To assemble my perfect trifle I spread the sponges with jam, arrange them in my bowl, then pour over the jelly. This goes into the fridge and when set the custard goes on top. I usually put in back in the fridge with a layer of cling film on top to stop a skin forming. All the above can be done the day before. On the day itself, I add the lightly whipped goat cream layer and finally finish it off with hundreds and thousands – what else?