Christmas Trifle

December 16, 2016

Last year, instead of Christmas Pudding, I made a Christmas Trifle – without any smoky bacon. I thought it was delicious and so much easier to find room for than figgy pudding. I need to make it again to fine tune my recipe but basically, what I did was follow the excellent Felicity Cloake's recipe. Apart from making the custard, it’s a straight forward assembly job. So we started and ended with a trifle. I hope there was a bit more substance in the middle.

Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year to you all.

Recipe & method originally from


  • Yields: 6-8 servings


For the fruit compote:

4 handfuls of dried fruit – try a mix of figs, prunes and apricots

½ cinnamon stick

3 cloves

Zest and juice of 2 oranges

For the custard:

300ml whole milk

300ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, slit in half and seeds scraped out

6 egg yolks

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp cornflour

1 packet trifle/savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits

100ml Piedra Luenga PX or similar sherry

1 packet amaretti biscuits

300ml double cream

15g flaked almonds, toasted

Seeds of ¼ pomegranate


1Start by making the compote. Put all the ingredients into a small pan and barely cover with cold water. Heat gently and then simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit is plump and the liquid has become slightly syrupy. Set aside and allow to cool.

2Meanwhile, make the custard. Put the milk and cream into a thick-bottomed pan with the vanilla pod and seeds on a gentle heat. Stir, then bring it to just below a simmer; do not allow it to boil. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a large bowl.

3Remove the vanilla pod from the hot milk and pour the milk on to the yolk and sugar mixture, stirring all the time.

4Turn the heat down to medium-low, and pour the custard back into the pan. Stirring slowly and continuously, cook until it coats the back of a wooden spoon – the longer you cook it, the thicker it will be. If it doesn't appear to be thickening after 10 minutes, you may have the heat slightly too low, but don't turn it up dramatically or you'll spoil all your hard work. (Alternatively, if you're not feeling terribly brave, suspend a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, pour the yolk and milk mixture into that, and proceed as above.) Bear in mind you'll be tied to the stove for at least 20 minutes, so put some good music on. Decant into a jug to cool, pressing some clingfilm on to the surface to prevent a skin forming.

5Line a glass bowl with boudoir biscuits and, after picking out the spices (3 cloves, remember) spoon the compote and juices over the top. Pour over the sherry and then scatter over the amaretti. Dollop the cooled custard on top, and then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set.

6Whip the cream to soft peaks, spoon on top of the trifle and chill for at least two hours before serving. Just before serving, arrange the almonds and pomegranate seeds on top – if you leave them there too long the seeds will bleed colour into the cream, and the nuts will go soggy.