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English Trifle

A perfect trifle should be a rich confection of fruit, light sponge, alcohol, real egg custard and whipped cream: The recipe has altered little over the centuries - at one time the custard was topped with syllabub, and fruit has not always been included.

ingredients

serves 6 - 8
4 trifle sponges
60 ml (4 tbsp) cherry jam
15 ratafia biscuits
60 ml (4 tbsp) sherry
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
225 g (8 oz) cherries, stoned
450 ml (3/4 pint) fresh milk
3 eggs
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
150 ml (5 fl oz) fresh double cream
glace cherries, to decorate
25 g (1 oz) chopped nuts, toasted, to decorate

method

1. Cut the trifle sponges in half and spread with jam, then sandwich together. Arrange in the base of a glass serving dish.

2. Cover with ratafias and sprinkle with sherry. Coat the bananas in lemon juice. Arrange the bananas and cherries on top of the ratafias.

3. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan until almost boiling. in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon rind and sugar until pale, then pour on the hot milk, stirring continuously.

4. Return to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow to boil. This takes about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

5. Pour the custard over the trifle and leave until cold.

6. Whip the cream until stiff and pipe on the top of the trifle and decorate with glace cherries and nuts.

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