My sister Jo’s magnificent confection. It will leave you speechless. In recent years she added and varied the fruit.
Jo Ellen’s Famous English Trifle
Crystal trifle bowl (the traditional bowl is footed)
6-8 sponge cakes
1 pkt. raspberry gelatin
3 tbsp. raspberry jam
1 tin pears
1 tin raspberries
Sherry or wine, if liked
½ pint custard (recipe follows)
Ingredients for the custard:
1¼ c. whole milk
1¼ c. double cream
1 vanilla pod, slit in half and seeds scraped out (or, 1 t. vanilla extract)
6 egg yolks
3 tbsp. caster (or, in the U.S., super fine) sugar
1 tbsp. corn starch
Fresh raspberries, whipped cream, glace’ or maraschino cherries, and/or angelica or candied angelica to decorate top. (Angelica is a herb related to parsley.)
1. Prepare the raspberry gelatin in the ordinary way by dissolving it in boiling water. Set aside to cool and allow it to just start to set while you prepared the next steps.
2. Split the sponge cakes width ways and spread generously with raspberry jam. Cut the sponge cake into 3 or 4 pieces and place at the bottom of a crystal trifle bowl.
2. Prepare the custard. Set a large pot of water to simmer. Combine milk and cream into a large sauce pan with the vanilla pod and seeds on a gentle heat. Stir, bring it just below a simmer; do not boil. In a large heat proof bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Remove the vanilla pod from the hot milk and pour the milk on to the yolk and sugar mixture, stirring all the time.
Turn the heat down to medium-low, and place the bowl of custard over the pan of simmering water. Stir slowly and continuously, cooking until it coats the back of a wooden spoon – the longer it cooks, the thicker it gets. If it doesn’t thicken after 10 minutes, the heat may be too low, but don’t turn it up dramatically or you’ll spoil the custard. (It will take about 20 min. to prepare.)
3. Strain the juice from the tinned fruit and reserve. The addition of Sherry or homemade wine to the fruit juice is an improvement, but is not essential. Pour the reserved juice over the sponge cakes.
4. Put the tinned raspberries on top of the sponge cakes, then pour the hot custard over the top and put aside to set.
6. Once cool and set, place the tinned pears on top of the custard.
7. When the raspberry gelatin is almost cold and just beginning to set, whisk the gelatin vigorously until it is light and frothy and resembling stiffly beaten egg whites. Arrange this in pyramids on top of the trifle.
8. Decorate with fresh raspberries, whipped cream, a few glace’ or maraschino cherries and, if available, a little fresh angelica leaves or candied angelica stem. (see http://apothecarysgarden.com/2013/06/09/candied-angelica-a-recipe-and-introduction/) Cool and serve.