What’s Trifle?

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Trifle is a British dessert made with layers of fruit, cake, custard, and whipped cream. It is often served as a centerpiece on formal dining tables and can be made with various ingredients, including chocolate cake and mixed berries. It is usually served in individual bowls and does not require deep cuts.

We have the British to thank for the decadent looking dessert called a trifle. This dish is similar to its smaller cousin, the parfait, in that they both use layers of fruit, cake, custard, and whipped cream. A traditional English trifle, however, it is meant for both decoration and consumption, meaning it often appears as a centerpiece on formal dining tables. In fact, many of the fancier recipes are meant to be served in specially designed bowls. These bowls are considerably oversized, resembling large brandy snifters.

A traditional English trifle uses cubes of stale sponge cake or pound cake, which can later be dipped in spirited sherry or port wine. Non-alcoholic fruit juices can be used as a substitute. These cubes are layered with fruit compotes or jams in the bowl. A form of vanilla custard can also be mixed into the layers – some recipes call for a very solid or solidified custard. Nuts or layers of whipped cream can be added for variety. The cook should continue to pile up the trifle until the bowl has been filled completely.

Over time, many variations of the original theme have become popular. Some recipes call for chocolate or other cake flavors to replace the stale pound or sponge cake. The custard flavor can also be modified to complement the flavor of the cake. It’s not unusual to see mixed berries or other fresh fruit substitute for jams.

A trifle may no longer be present as a centerpiece for the dinner table, but it makes an impression on the dessert table. It is usually served with the help of a large serving spoon and individual bowls. It’s usually not necessary to make very deep cuts in the dessert, as all the ingredients are present throughout the dish in multiple layers.

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