Summer berry trifle recipe

Unless you’re a baking nut, buy a good-quality sponge cake or use shop-bought madeleines - Matt Austin
Unless you’re a baking nut, buy a good-quality sponge cake or use shop-bought madeleines - Matt Austin

The trifles I remember having as a kid consisted of cans of diced fruit and sherry-soaked sponge under a pile of Bird’s custard. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but trifle is a versatile dessert that can be adapted to all sorts of fruit (though preferably not tinned).

Unless you’re a baking nut, buy a good-quality sponge cake, rather than making one from scratch, as it’s such a small quantity that’s needed. Or use shop-bought madeleines. You don’t have to use sherry for this; a splash of fruit-flavoured liqueur that you might have knocking around will do the trick.


Prep time: 25 minutes, plus cooling, chilling and infusing time

Cook time: 10 minutes




For the jelly

  • 100g caster sugar

  • 4-5 strawberries, hulled and sliced

  • 1 sheet of leaf gelatin

To assemble

  • 50g sponge cake

  • 75ml sherry or an aperitif of your choice

  • 120g seasonal berries (such as sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)

  • 250ml double cream

  • 60g caster sugar

  • 20-30g flaked almonds, toasted

For the custard 

  • ½ vanilla pod

  • 300ml single cream

  • 5 egg yolks

  • 60g caster sugar

  • 2 tsp cornflour


1. For the jelly, put 220ml water in a pan with the sugar and strawberries. Bring to the boil, simmer gently for five minutes, then remove from the heat. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for a minute or so, until soft, then squeeze out the water, add to the syrup and stir until dissolved.

2. Leave the jelly to cool but do not let it set. Break the sponge into pieces and divide it between four individual serving dishes, then sprinkle over the sherry or aperitif.

3. Divide half the berries between the dishes then pour over the cooled jelly so it just covers the sponge and fruit. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to set.

4. Meanwhile, make the custard. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the point of a knife. Put the single cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes.

5. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together. Remove the vanilla pod from the cream and pour it on to the egg mixture, mixing well with a whisk.

6. Return the mixture to the pan and cook gently over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens (don’t let it boil!).

7. Remove from the heat and give it a final mix with a whisk. Transfer to a bowl, lay a sheet of cling film directly on to the surface of the custard to prevent it from forming a skin, and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.

8. Once the jelly has set, spoon over the custard, then leave to set for half an hour or so in the fridge. Whisk the double cream and sugar together until fairly stiff then, once the custard has set, spoon it over the top.

9. Garnish with the toasted almonds and the rest of the seasonal berries.

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