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Ireland’s Leading Independent Food & Hospitality Guide
by Darina Allen
Sherry Trifle can be a pudding to be avoided at all costs, on a restaurant menu. However when it’s made as Mummy made it, with good homemade ingredients and lots of best-quality sweet sherry it is a revelation.
Trifle was a Christmas tradition at our house and was served in a special “cut glass” bowl kept especially for the purpose with homemade custard.
1 lb (450g) approx. homemade sponge cake or trifle sponges (trifle sponges are lighter so you will need less)
8 ozs (225g) homemade raspberry jam
1 pint (600ml) custard made with:
5 eggs, organic and free-range if possible
1 1/4 tablespoons castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 pints (750ml) rich milk
5-6 fl oz (150-175ml) best quality sweet or medium sherry - don’t spare the sherry and don’t waste your time with cooking sherry.
1 pint (600ml) whipped cream
8 cherries or crystallised violets
8 diamonds of angelica
a few toasted flaked almonds
1 x 3 pint (1.7 litre) capacity glass bowl
Sandwich the rounds of sponge cake together with homemade raspberry jam. If you use trifle sponges, sandwich them in pairs.
Next make the egg custard: Whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract. Heat the milk to the ‘shivery’ stage and add it to the egg mixture whisking all the time. Put into a heavy saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard coats the back of the wooden spoon lightly. Don’t let it boil or it will curdle.
Cut the sponge into 3 / 4 inch (2cm) slices and use these to line the bottom of a 3 pint (1.7 litres) glass bowl, sprinkling generously with sherry as you go along.
Pour in some homemade egg custard and then add another layer of sponge. Sprinkle with the remainder of the sherry. Spread the rest of the custard over the top. Cover and leave for 5 or 6 hours, or preferably overnight in a cold larder or fridge to mature.
Before serving, spread softly whipped cream over the top, pipe rosettes if you like and decorate with cherries or crystallised violets and large diamonds of angelica. Scatter with a few toasted flaked almonds.