June 30, 2011


When it was Father’s Day we had a little family lunch party and I decided to make an old family favourite, sherry trifle, for pudding.  More recently we have called it raspberry trifle because Nick’s absolute favourite fruit is raspberries.

I make this trifle in more or less the same way as my mother made it when I was a child and in fact still use her old trifle bowl – the one that was used for many a Boxing Day trifle when we were kids.

My grandparents and my aunts would all make a trifle in a very similar way and we even had fabulous trifle at school with our school dinner occasionally – although with probably more custard and very little cream on top.

trifle5 trifle4

In the 1970’s I started buying Good Housekeeping magazine – thinking myself very sophisticated and grown-up.  I was amazed to find that jelly in trifle was no longer the thing – it was thought to be common or old-fashioned – very working class !!

I confess I experimented with non-jelly trifles, also some faddy alternatives such as hot apricot trifle, which was baked in the oven with meringue on the top, and chocolate trifle which was made with chocolate cake and chocolate sauce.

But in the end I was true to my roots.  A trifle should have cake, jam, fruit,  custard, cream, maybe a dash of sherry, definitely jelly and, of course, hundreds and thousands to decorate.  Or silver balls and a plastic reindeer at Christmas !!

trifle3 trifle2

If my mum made a trifle at the weekend it sometimes would be from a kit, which came in a box with trifle sponges, a tin of mixed fruit, custard mix, jelly and something which I think was called Dream Topping.  At Christmas it would be made with the full works – jam swiss roll, a good slug of sherry and cream from a tin.  Heaven !!

(I wonder if you can still get Dream Topping?)


Here’s how I made my raspberry trifle:


1 jam sponge roll

1 punnet raspberries

1 raspberry jelly

sweet sherry to taste

¾pint custard

small carton of double or whipping cream

hundreds and thousands or sugar pearls to decorate


Cut a jam sponge roll into slices about one inch thick.  Remember to get the one with only jam in it, not jam and buttercream.  If you cut carefully there will be exactly one slice left over for yourself.

Arrange the slices in the  bottom and sides of the dish as in the first picture, making sure the base of the dish is covered as much as possible.

Pour a little sweet sherry over the sponge – too much can be a bit overpowering but you need enough to be able to taste it.

Arrange a punnet of fresh raspberries over the sponge in a single layer, remembering to tuck one into each dimple made by the sponge in the sides of the dish.  Frozen raspberries will do just as well; use enough from a pack to make a single layer over the sponge.

Make up a packet of raspberry jelly according to the instructions and pour it over the fruit and sponge.  Leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Make about ¾ pint of custard from custard powder as per the instructions on the tin.  Or you could use a small carton of ready-made custard.  When it’s cool enough, spread it carefully over the jelly – if it’s too hot the jelly will start to melt around the edges, but that’s ok because it will set again.  Remember to leave enough room on top of the trifle to put the cream.  Put the trifle back in the fridge for an hour or so for the custard to set completely.

Whip the cream until thick and spread it on top of the custard.  Decorate as you like, you could even pipe swirls of cream to make it look really glamorous.

Serve using your best serving spoon and remember to enjoy that unique squelching noise you get when you take the first spoonful.  Magic !!

Serves 6-8


  1. Yes you can still get Dream Topping.... Don't ask!!!

  2. You know from my post that we love trifle Jean! Yours looks superb. We haven't tried a swiss roll as a base but that sounds like a great idea!

  3. That is the same way as my mother made trifles and yes I still make them that way as well. Trifle must have jelly :-) Diane

  4. Dream Topping definitely still available- I saw it earlier in the supermarket funnily enough. Trifle for our family was very much a Boxing Day staple- us kids would be fishing away for the sponge fingers, making a right mess of the beautiful pudding!

  5. never been crazy for trifle but then i'm not a big fan of custard... totally love the pics though and the jam roll is a riot!