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Five top trifles

5 of our tastiest trifle recipes

by Great British Chefs 26 September 2017

Trifle is due a comeback, after being relegated into retro pudding territory. Create layer upon layer of sweet flavour by following one of our favourite trifle recipes.

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What at first sounds like a dessert a child would invent – some sponge fingers, lots of jelly or jam with custard poured all over it – is in fact one of the UK’s most underrated sweets. Trifle, along with lava lamps, flares and prawn cocktail, may be the most retro thing ever, but when it’s done right it really is delicious. The trick is to stop the sponge at the bottom getting too soggy, ensuring the jelly or jam has just the right amount of sweetness and that your custard has plenty of vanilla flavour and is thick enough to create a stable layer on which you can pipe cream, scatter nuts or dust with icing sugar.

Any good chef should know how to balance the different aspects of a trifle. Of course, many of them will play around with flavours, add their own little spin or turn the trifle completely on its head and produce something totally new. Here are five of our favourites, from some of the best chefs in the UK.

1. Rhubarb trifle

How do you make a trifle even more retro? Flavour it with rhubarb and custard, that’s how. With bright pink stalks of rhubarb poached in syrup, a classic bright yellow custard (with the seeds of a vanilla pod thrown in for a fantastic flavour) and a boozy syllabub cream on top, this is a world away from the classic jelly-based pud. The sponge fingers at the bottom are soaked in sherry and lime juice, while the biscuits and nuts on top add a pleasing crunch.

2. Blackberry trifle and pistachio sponge

A great dessert to serve when blackberries are in season, Simon Hulstone’s upmarket twist on a trifle includes a homemade blackberry jelly with plenty of tang. The sponge on the bottom is made from scratch and given a nice green hue thanks to a few teaspoons of tasty pistachio paste, and the whole thing is finished off with some simple whipped cream. Sprinkle over a few crushed nuts before serving for an attractive finish.

3. Mandarin and sake trifle

Now for something completely different – an English pudding by way of Japan. Victoria Glass uses exotic mandarin and a hefty glug of sake to flavour her trifle, certainly bringing the classic into the modern day. A simple sponge is flavoured with mandarin zest, before being topped with mandarin and sake jelly and then a mandarin-infused custard. It’s fruity, light and very grown up.

4. English trifle with a sorbet of Norfolk raspberries and sugared nuts

Galton Blackiston knows a classic trifle can be hard to beat, so sticks with the classic raspberry jelly, Marsala wine-soaked sponge and thick English custard. The sorbet on the side is made with raspberries grown in Norfolk (Galton’s own county) and there’s a clutch of sugared nuts perched on top of each trifle to finish it off.

5. Lord Mayor's trifle

Chocolate, coconut and vanilla – a trio of flavours that always go well together. Perhaps that’s why Marcus Wareing chose them to star in his very own trifle recipe, made completely from scratch. The vanilla custard is set with gelatine, the sponge is flavoured with dessicated coconut and the jelly is full of dark chocolate, while the piped cream on top is half crème fraiche, resulting in a slightly lighter finish.

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