Classic English Trifle

  • prep time60 min
  • total time 90 min
  • serves 12 - 16

This classic style of trifle layers a sponge cake with pastry cream and fresh berries. Trifles are ideal for a crowd, particularly in a buffet setting, since you can spoon out as much or as little as you wish. 

253 Ratings
Directions for: Classic English Trifle


Sponge Cake

6 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pastry Cream

2 cups 2% milk

1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla bean paste

6 large egg yolks

6 Tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Fruit and Assembly

1 ½ cups whipping (35%) cream, divided

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups assorted fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries)

⅔ cup berry jam

⅓ cup cream sherry

¼ cup toasted sliced almonds


Sponge Cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Line a baking tray (11-x-17-inches/28-x-43-cm) with parchment paper, but do not grease the pan.

2. Warm the eggs in their shells in hot tap water for about 5 minutes (change the water once halfway through warming). Place the whole eggs and 2 yolks in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Add the sugar and whip on high speed until the mixture is pale and holds a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. You can’t overwhip whole eggs, so if in doubt, keep whipping!

3. While the eggs are whipping, sift the flour and salt together in a small bowl. Add the flour to the eggs gradually while whipping on medium low speed. Spoon a generous dollop of the batter into the melted butter, add the vanilla and stir this together (don’t worry if it deflates a little). Add this buttered batter to the bigger batter and fold in by hand. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for about 25 minutes until it is an even golden brown on top and springs back when gently pressed. Cool the cake completely in its pan.

Pastry Cream

1. For the pastry cream, heat the milk with the scraped seeds of the vanilla bean or the vanilla bean paste until just below a simmer.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Ready a bowl with the butter, placing a strainer on top of it.

3. Gradually whisk the hot milk into egg mixture and then return it all to the pot. Whisk this constantly (switching to a spatula now and again, to get into the corners) over medium heat until thickened and glossy, about 2 minutes. Pour this immediately through the strainer, whisking it through if needed, and stir in the butter. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard, cool to room temperature and then chill completely until ready to use.

Fruit and Assembly

1. To get ready to assemble, find a glass vessel that can hold 10 cups (2.5 L). Whip the cream and fold a third of this into the pastry cream. Add the sugar and vanilla to the remaining two thirds of the whipped cream. In a separate bowl, toss the berries gently with the jam.

2. To assemble, turn the sponge cake out onto a cutting board and peel away the parchment. Cut out 3-4 layers (number depends on the size of your trifle dish) of the cake so that the fit into the dish snugly. Place a layer of cake in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle or brush generously with the cream sherry. Top this with dollops of the pastry cream and spread. Spoon the berries overtop and cover this with a second layer of the cake. Repeat this 2 to 3 times, until the cake layers, cream and fruit have been used. Top the trifle with the reserved whipped cream and sprinkle the top with toasted almonds. Chill the trifle until ready to serve.

See more: Bake, Berries, Dessert, Party Favourites


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