We love our trifles in New Zealand – they pretty much rank right up there with Pavlovas as our favourite national dessert.
A trifle is basically always the same combination of components – a cake or sponge base, liberally soaked in an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, fruit, custard, and cream. Raspberry jelly was often included in the past, and many people still prefer it these days, but with the more sophisticated combination of ingredients you now see in trifles, jelly is seen less and less.
I have to admit that trifle, while once an absolute favourite of mine, has been superseded by the Continental custards – Crème Brulees, Pots de Crème and Panna Cottas. But, every once in a while, I yearn for the squidgy, multi-layered and visually appealing concoctions. And they go down a treat with most everyone as well. Thanks to Michelle Keogh for this recipe, which is out of her book ‘Trifle: Heavenly Layers‘ by Penguin Books, 2012.
While this Peach & Sherry Trifle recipe was designed to be put into a large serving bowl, I served it in 6 x 1 cup capacity individual bowls. I didn’t quite use all of the sponge (you can freeze any left-overs for future Trifles) or the alcohol – (I used about 3 dessertspoonsful for each dish). And, if I can give you one tip… As with almost any Trifle, I can’t stress enough that it really is best made the night before serving it to give it time to soak up all the flavours and reach a bit of maturity texture-wise. Simply add the whipped cream and almonds just before serving.
PEACH & SHERRY TRIFLE
For the Victoria sponge:
- 6 oz softened butter, room temperature
- 6 oz caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 6 oz self-raising flour
- 1 ½ Tbsp milk
For the Vanilla Bean custard:
- 10 fl oz cream
- 10 fl oz milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 2 oz caster sugar
- 1 ½ Tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- 5 oz raspberry jam
- 1 x 450g can peaches in juice
- 8 fl oz sweet sherry
- 2 cups cream
- 1 oz flaked almonds (toasted)
- For Victoria Sponge: Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Grease and flour a 23cm (9 inch) spring-form cake tin.
- Place the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.
- Sift the flour over the mixture and add the milk. Mix on low speed until just combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing until the mixture is well combined (about 1 minute).
- Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Allow the cake to cool completely.
- For the Vanilla Bean Custard: In preparation, make an ice bath by putting ice cubes and a small amount of cold water into a large bowl and resting a smaller metal or glass bowl in the ice. Set a fine mesh strainer over the top.
- Place the cream and milk into a medium sized heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthways with a small sharp knife and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds. Add both the pods and the seeds to the cream and milk. Heat the cream and milk to just simmering.
- While the cream mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, caster sugar and cornflour in a large bowl, until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Once the cream mixture is hot, slowly pour it onto the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve back into the pan. Return the saucepan to a low heat and gently cook the custard, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon (170-175°F or 77-80°C, if you’re using a thermometer). Do not boil or it will curdle.
- Once the custard is cooked, remove it from the heat and immediately strain the custard into the bowl set over ice. Whisk the custard until it’s cool. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.
- Assembly: Use a serrated knife to split the sponge in half horizontally. Spread one half with the raspberry jam and sandwich with the other half. Cut or break the sponge into 4cm (1 ½ inch) pieces.
- Drain the peaches and cut them into bite-sized chunks
- Place half the sponge pieces into a 2.5-3L glass serving bowl and sprinkle with half the sherry. Repeat with the remaining sponge pieces and sherry. Distribute the peaches evenly over the top.
- Spoon and spread the custard evenly over the peaches. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours but preferably, overnight.
- When ready to serve, whip the cream until soft peaks form, then spoon over the Trifle. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
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