Traditional English Trifle

Trifle desert

What a beautiful dessert the Traditional English Trifle makes with its multiple layers. So many colors, textures and flavors. It’s luscious, light and totally decadent. This is one of Stephen’s favorite deserts and an absolute must for South Africans on Christmas day. I changed it up a little but this recipe is the real deal. Some South Africans use sliced peaches or other canned fruits and others also add jellie as a layer. I do not like the jellie and I prefer the berries and bananas but really, any fruit is good. Ladyfingers often replaces the cake, but I think the cake makes it a very decadent desert. I used canned Ambrosia Devon Custard (from Amazon or World Market as well as some grocers) or you can make your own from scratch. You can also use Bird’s Custard powder which is really easy to make. This dessert is super easy to make. You simply cannot go wrong with trifle for christmas, especially in the tropics.



4 egg yolks
1oz caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
15fl oz whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

or 2×15 ounce cans Ambrosia Devon custard


About 2/3 of Pound cake sliced (about 1/2 inch)
2 tbsp seedless
Strawberry jam or I like ‘Polaner All Fruit’ spreadable fruit
2/3 Cup Dry Sherry or Madeira Port
1xPint (2 cups) sliced strawberries
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 medium-sized bananas

(Berries) Another 1/2 cup Sherry or Port and 2 tbsp castor sugar


9fl oz whipping cream
1 1/2 oz toasted flaked almonds
You will need a 3 pint glass bowl


Slice the pound cake, spread one side with jam and place another slice on top like a sandwich. Slice each sandwich in thirds. Place these in the bowl (they should all fit into a single layer). Now stab them with a small knife and carefully and slowly pour the Port or Sherry over all of them. Leave on one side so the sponges absorb the liquid – tip the bowl from time to time to make sure there are no pools of liquid in the bowl.

Make the custard. Whisk the cornflour, egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Then heat the cream in a small saucepan to simmering point. Pour into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour. Now quickly pour the whole lot back into the saucepan, add the vanilla and whisk over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble and thicken. Pour it back into the bowl and leave to cool OR simply open the canned custard and use as is.

In a small pan, pour the 1/2 cup of Port or Sherry and 2 tbsp castor sugar and bring to a boil. Turn down the flame and allow the liquid to reduce slightly and thicken to a syrup. Add the fresh sliced strawberries, cover with syrup and allow to simmer for about a minute. remove from the heat. Let it cool.

To assemble the trifle, first make sure all the Port / Sherry has soaked into the cake. Peel and slice the bananas. Scatter the strawberries over the cake, followed by the bananas. Now pour the cooled down custard over everything. Finally, whip the cream till thick. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form. Spoon it over the custard and spread. Scatter the almonds all over. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill until needed.


Want more galley kitchen recipes for your charter yacht business? Check out our guru recipes and other charter management tips.


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