Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer Trifle

While trifle is sometimes associated with Christmas, it also makes a lovely summer treat – the chilled, layered combination of sponge cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream is perfect in the heat. My mother’s trifle was a modern version ideal for the working woman – a combination of store-bought Swiss roll, jello, Bird’s Custard and canned fruit. This version uses fresh ingredients and more labor.

This is the second dessert this month inspired by Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. At one point protagonist Charles Ryder indulges in a Mavrodaphne trifle. Mavrodaphne (literally black laurel) is a sweet dessert wine from Greece. The trifle referenced in the book contains the Greek wine substituted for sweet sherry, the traditional alcohol used in trifle. Chef John Fothergill at the Spreadeagle Inn in Thame (a village near Oxford) was famous for his Mavrodaphne trifle.

Serves 8 to 10

1 recipe of English Custard (about 3 cups)
2/5 to 1/2 recipe Lemon Sponge Cake (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/3 to 2/3 cup sweet sherry, port, sweet wine or fruit juice
1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 small banana, sliced
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons rose water (optional)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
chocolate shavings or other garnish

The above photos correspond to various stages of trifle preparation. I refer to them top to bottom as photos 1-5.

1. Prepare custard in advance and use at room temperature or chilled. Do not use warm custard.
2. Slice stale sponge cake into 3/4-inch cubes. Using raspberry jam, attach two cubes of cake together. (see photo 1)
3. In the trifle bowl, pour alcohol or juice over cake and toss until the liquid is absorbed.
4. Add sliced strawberries and bananas and toss again. (see photo 2)
5. Cover with a layer of custard, making sure it settles over the cake-fruit mixture. (see photo 3)
6. Whip cream, rose water and powdered sugar until stiff.
7. Top trifle with whipped cream and decorate with chocolate shavings. You may also garnish with toasted sliced almond, fruit, sprinkles or cocoa powder. (see photos 4 and 5)
8. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours before serving.

Be sure to use a clear glass bowl to show off the layers of your trifle.


Anonymous said...

This one I HAVE to try!

cheesewithaspoon said...

Lovely. Trifle is one of my absolute favourite desserts. Does the alcohol keep the banana in this one from changing colour?

AKR said...

The banana is only good for a little while and then it turns brown. Unfortunately, the alcohol does not seem to keep it fresh. I might suggest eliminating the banana if you don't plan on having the trifle within 24 hours of making it.

Anonymous said...

This one I HAVE to try!

obillo said...

Thanks for this but what was the OTHER Waugh-inspired dessert? I too found the reference in 'Brideshead Revisited,' by the way, and have since included Daphne Trifle in my catalogue of giddy, Waugh-ful English socialites. (The otherse are Rose Madder and Florence Fennel. No Joan Hunter-Dunnes, they!)

Sandra said...

There should be jelly (jello) in this! Typically, we always had sponge cake with the sherry, and poured warm jello over it. Leave the jello to set and then put the fruit next, then the cold custard and then the cool whip or even better fresh whipped cream on the top.
Decorate with sprinkles! or for all -adult dinner, chocolate shavings!
Mmmmm. Better go make one.....
You can also add the fruit juice to the jello to boost that flavour.