Scottish Sherry Trifle

The trifle is such a wonderfully British dish and so often a family classic. Pamela (whose family classic this recipe is) told me that her grown-up children now love making it too and each of them have their own special trifle bowl for the task.

Trifle sponges are its traditional base. Even though it feels a bit wrong to buy rather than make the cake, it is absolutely right. Trifle sponges are drier than home-made and that’s good here otherwise the booze would make it all go too soggy.

The sherry-soaked sponges are usually layered-up with fruit. Pamela doesn’t do that and as I grew up hating the tinned fruit that seemed to be interred into most trifles of the early 1980s I think this recipe is none the worse for the lack of fruit. A few handfuls of fresh raspberries might be nice.

Its Scottish-ness comes not just from Pamela but from the ratafia biscuits that she puts on top. The small almond flavour biscuits – like brittle amaretti – are common to Scottish trifles. They’re often put on top of the sponges so they get the sherry and custard treatment too. Pamela puts them on top of the whole thing and I quite like the crunch that gives the cream.

Scottish Sherry Trifle (recipe from Pamela McJannet)

1 pint milk

1 egg, beaten

1tsp cornflour

1 tbsp sugar

a box of trifle sponges – approx. 200g

strawberry jam

100ml sweet sherry

300ml double cream

bag of ratafia or amaretti biscuits

1. Make the custard first: Mix the cornflour with a little of the milk in saucepan. Add the egg, then the rest of the milk.  Keep stirring on a medium heat as your custard thickens. Once it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon take it off the heat and put to one side to cool a bit.

2. Cut the trifle sponges in half and spread them with strawberry jam. Sandwich them back together, then cut into pieces (one sponge into about eight pieces.)  Place in the bottom of your trifle bowl and pour the sherry over. Then pour the custard over. Leave to cool down before chilling for the custard to set. 

3. Whip the cream and spoon on top. Then add the ratafia biscuits – whole or give them a light crumble in your hand. Cool in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

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