A trifle is a dessert dish made from thick (or often solidified) custard, fruit, sponge cake, fruit juice or, more recently, jelly (gelatin), and whipped cream.
These ingredients are usually arranged in layers with fruit and sponge on the bottom, and custard and cream on top.
Some trifles contain a small amount of alcohol such as port, or, most commonly, sweet sherry or madeira wine. Non-alcoholic versions use fruit juice instead, as the liquid is necessary to moisten the cake.
A trifle is often used for decoration as well as taste, incorporating the bright, layered colours of the fruit, jelly, jam, and the contrast of the creamy yellow custard and white cream.
Trifles are often served at Christmas time, sometimes as a lighter alternative to the much denser Christmas pudding.
My grandma used to make the best trifle. She used to start with a thick layer of sponge cake that she’d put on the bottom of a very large bowl.
To this she’d add some fruit and then she’d soak it all in sherry and have a very healthy glass of sherry herself. To that she’d add some custard; nice and thick from a tin because the stuff that she used to make herself was a bit too runny for making trifles.
Then she’d add lashings of whipped cream. Us kids used to whip it ourselves because my grandma would have another glass of sherry. She’d spoon it over the top of course nowadays you can get spray cream, which is much easier.
To round off we’d have a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands – pink ones because those were my sister’s favourite.
My granddad used to say it was the best trifle in all of Yorkshire, of course I think my grandma preferred the sherry.