Friday, 29 January 2010

Sherry Berry Trifle

Blueberry, that is. I contemplated a Sherry Cherry Trifle, but who has time to pit cherries right before Xmas? A trifle, though, is traditional for Christmas, and it's quite useful. It's a dessert that can be made in advance, with whatever is on hand, and yet is quite festive. It's also a traditional way to use up stale sponge cake - though that's not a common thing in my house.

They can be pretty dire, when made from the supermarket jam roll soaked in Aeroplane jelly with tinned fruit and packet custard, and a splash of wino's cheapest sherry. Though if done with care, even that can have nostalgia value. But there's plenty of room to improve on any or all of those options without much effort. Even packet custard can be tweaked into something rather better. And since the packet kind sets, it's actually a better option than a proper egg yolk custard sauce, if you're planning to put it in a large bowl and empty it over a couple of days. And I do still like to have jelly, even though I'm grown up.

Recipe: Sherry & Blueberry Trifle
625g blueberries
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
150ml water
1 sachet gelatine
1 250g sponge cake
1/2 cup medium sweet sherry
750ml custard
300ml cream

* Tear up the sponge cake and put it in the serving bowl.
* Drizzle the sherry over the cake.
* Wash 500g of the berries, and pop them into a saucepan with the sugar and water.
* Bring to a gentle simmer and stir well to make sure the sugar is all dissolved and the berries are a bit broken.
* Remove from heat immediately.
* Drain berries, reserving juice.
* Sprinkle cooked berries over the cake.
* Make a jelly with the juice and the gelatine, topping up with water if necessary to make 500ml liquid.
* Pour the warm liquid jelly over the cake and berries, and refrigerate to set.
* When set, top with cold custard.
* Top that with whipped cream, and decorate with fresh berries.

Extra Copious Notes

Cake options -
Make your own sponge, and spread it with a good jam. Make your own swiss roll. Buy a bakery or supermarket one - the quality need not be too high, since it will be soaked.

Soaking options -
A decent sherry matters here, and you want at least a semi-sweet, not a fino. Pedro Ximinez is lovely, if expensive, for a chocolatey one. Or for fruity options, an Amontillado style or premium cream sherry. Other kinds of soaking liquid can be used to taste. Port is traditional, but you could also consider muscat, tokay, a dessert wine, a liqueur or for the non-drinkers, a fruit juice. Or hmmm, how about black coffee, or earl grey tea, or chai?

Fruit options -
Go for cooked fruit (including tinned) unless you are going to eat it very quickly. Fresh fruit is nice, but much less so after a couple of days. You can use frozen berries to make the cooked part, but fresh will still look better as decoration on top.

Custard options -
I made a custard from packet custard powder, you may be shocked, shocked! to learn. But I used 750ml of full cream milk, with powder enough to set 500ml milk, and also added two whole eggs, well beaten, into the mix. This is much less likely to split than a straight egg custard, too. Bought custard could be used - the premium Paul's variety is pretty good for a dollop.

You can probably improvise for the rest. Use your favourite Aeroplane jelly from childhood, or a wine jelly, or no jelly at all. Top with soft thick cream dollops, or whipped cream, use any fruit or nut or even lollies for topping decorations... It's a bit of fun, not a rigid haute cuisine recipe.

I'm sorry I didn't take a picture. I got a bit otherwise preoccupied during Xmas. I will say that it looked very pretty, with a ring of whipped cream around the edge, dotted with fresh blueberries and some maple toasted pecans from the market nut sellers. The pecans didn't age well, though. The sugar coating dissolves, and the nuts start to soften. That would be a same-day decoration option, not good for 2-3 days.


Aqua, of the Questioners said...

You've reminded me I need to make Danish cherry trifle - you use Amaretti instead of sponge cake, a jar of those European cherries, and instead of jelly and custard, the cherry juice is mixed with yoghurt (and sugar) and set with gelatine.

I always found UK-style trifles with jelly a bit childish as a result, I'm afraid.

seepi said...

My mother in law makes that bogan trifle - except with lump floury custard and no sherry at all... Her kids all love it though, and I've given up saying to the partner that it is a bit pov.

I made Australia Day trifle with lamingtons and blue jelly and blueberries. Twas quite nice, although I won't do blue jelly again, it looked a bit scary.

I can't make jelly, but I don't like to eat too much food colouring - can we buy colourfree jelly anywhere?
Also i want to buy natural colour (dried beetroot etc). I had some once, but I don't know where I got it.p

That Damn Monkey said...

*waves hand* You really should invite that lovely Monkey chick over.


Cath said...

Seepi, the easiest way to make colouring-free jelly is to buy plain gelatine. You usually find it in the supermarket with the baking powder, dry yeast, food colourings etc Then you can set almost anything - juice, milk, soft-drinks, champagne...

Aeroplane has a "create-a-jelly" pack on the market now which I've seen stored with the flavoured jellies.

I have no idea where to get the natural colours, sorry.