This is my 100th post! I’m a little surprised that my blog has made it this far. Although perhaps I shouldn’t be, I spend most of my days thinking about food, sometimes I even think about one food whilst eating another, it’s like I’m cheating on food. Either way, thank you all so much for sticking with me.
Of course this means that there should be cake. It would be churlish not to take the opportunity to make one. Something terribly British is in order. However I think it should be something a little more extravagant than a classic Victoria sponge (not that I object to Victoria sponge.)
Although there are similar things from around the world (tiramisu springs to mind) proper trifle is a very British thing. My Grandmas, and subsequently my Mums, Christmas table was incomplete without a glorious bowl of creamy, custardy joy adorning it, usually embellished with chocolate shavings, glace cherries and shards of jewel green angelica. Very retro, but I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I was little some of my favourite books were the ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ stories by Dorothy Edwards and I can still recall the one in which she and Bad Harry demolish the trifle at his birthday party. Who could blame them!
Normally the layers of sponge, jelly, fruit, custard and cream are built up in a bowl. In order to turn this into a cake I’m going to replace the jelly with jam as I’m not convinced about a layer of jelly in a cake.
110g butter (room temperature)
320g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
320 ml milk
1 tsp almond extract
250 ml milk
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp vanilla paste
200 ml double cream
5-6 tbsp strawberry jam
1 tbsp sherry/pimms/port (optional)
6-8 fresh strawberries
To make the sponge cake layers pre-heat the oven to 190°c and grease and line your baking tin(s). You can either use three standard 8 inch sandwich tins or one deeper one and cut the cake into layers but bear in mind this will take longer to cook.
Cream together the butter and the sugar before sifting in the flour and baking powder. Use an electric mixer to beat this all together. Lightly whisk together the milk, eggs and almond extract and then beat this mixture into the dry ingredients. This is best done in two stages.
Once everything is well mixed together pour the batter into the prepared tin(s) and pop it in the oven. If you are using three separate tins it’ll take around 20 minutes but for one large tin it may need 35-40 minutes. Check that the cakes are cooked through to the centre by poking them with a skewer and leave them to cool in the tins once they are baked.
For the custard filling, start by heating the milk in a small saucepan. It needs to be hot but don’t let it boil.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, corn flour and vanilla in a bowl until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy.
Pour half of the milk though a sieve onto the egg mixture, stirring it as you do so to prevent it curdling. Strain in the remaining milk and rinse out the pan.
Return the custard to the rinsed pan and place it over a moderate heat. Stir this continuously until it becomes really thick. Set the custard aside to cool. You can cover it with cling film if you like to prevent a skin forming but I think you get better results if you just remember to give it a stir every 20 minutes or so. Once it’s at room temperature put it in the fridge to get really cool and thick.
To assemble the cake, warm the jam slightly and thin it a little with the alcohol (or a tiny drop of water) and spread it onto the bottom two layers of the cake. Follow this with a layer of custard and top it with sliced strawberries. Place the second layer of sponge on top and spread this with custard too. Again follow this with more strawberries and then carefully place on the top layer.
Whip the cream so that it’s quite stiff and then spread or pipe this on top. Decorate however you please, unless you were born before 1985 you may not feel the need to go quite as retro as I have…