Desserts: A trifling example of getting on with it
I (Henry) was a little disgruntled about making Trifle. I’ve never considered it a real dessert. I guess I must have repressed memories of being forced to eat it as a child; my small child senses knowing that custard, jelly and sponge were all individual elements and trifle was a really bad compound element of no use to anybody.
So. Yeah. I was a little indifferent. Like a good academic (and novice baker) the first thing I did was type ‘trifle’ into a search engine. The gaudy and ostentatious results confirmed what I feared – Trifle was the Liberace of desserts. After checking out a few recipes – none of which interested me – I decided I’d make my own version. Now this here, is one of the good things about trifle. It’s probably one of the easiest desserts to customize. You can include any ingredients you want, as long as there’s something spongy at the bottom, followed by something jelly-like, something custard-like, and something cream-like. I was tempted to make an Oreo trifle (amazeballs, I know), but finally decided to make something called an Anti Tifle. My concept was to get real ants – yes – no – not from my garden – from a shop, and have them dotted in a line across the top as if the trifle was infested or left out on a kitchen sill. At first I was excited. My colleague (a chef, and cookbook editor) told me ants taste like lemon. Question solved. I’d make a lemoncello trifle. However, the only ants I could find, the package told me, tasted like crispy bacon. So. Yeah. I threw that idea out the window faster than a burning crème caramel.
Instead I decided to just shut up and do what lazy housewives have been doing for generations. I’d make a wham-bam-thank-you-mam traditional pile of slush.
And how did I do it? I got jam jars, and I put sponge in, I splashed it with Cherry booze, I gelatinized berries, and I threw them in, I threw some custard in, and I whipped cream (with red colouring) and I threw that in, I manically blended almonds and I threw them on top, and then I decided to infest them with some sugar mice. And hey presto…hey trifle…
No. I didn’t bake a sponge base, and no I didn’t make my own custard – and you know why? Because most of the recipes I found (including ones by Paul Hollywood himself, endorsed by the BBC!) just said go buy some. So that’s what I did.
And you know what, dear, dear reader? It tasted pretty good. I still don’t consider it a real dessert though.