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Puddings and Sweet Deserts

Chilled sweet dish of at least three layers, often cake soaked in sweet wine, a layer of set custard and a decorated cream topping. Other layers, such as jam, fruit or jelly may be included. Frequently prepared in a glass bowl so that the layers can be seen.

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Hannah Glasse's 1755 'Art of Cookery' gives the oldest known receipt for modern trifle...

Original Receipt in 'The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy' by Hannah Glasse, 1747 (Glasse 1747);

To make a trifle.
COVER the bottom of your dish or bowl with Naples biscuits broke in pieces, mackeroons broke in halves, and ratafia cakes. Just wet them all through with sack, then make a good boiled cusard not too thick, and when cold pour it over it, then put a syllabub over that. You may garnish it with ratafia cakes, currant jelly, and flowers.

Mrs.B's 1861 version has sponge-cake, macaroon and ratafias soaked in wine and brandy, a layer of grated lemon rind with sweet almonds, then a jam layer, a custard layer and a topping made of cream with egg white, sugar and sherry. She also gives Apple, gooseberry and Indian versions.

Original Receipt in 'The Book of Household Management', 1861, edited by Isabella Beeton (See Mrs.B)

(A Supper Dish.)
1404. INGREDIENTS: 10 good-sized apples, the rind of1/2 lemon, 6 oz. of pounded sugar,1/2 pint of milk,1/2 pint of cream, 2 eggs, whipped cream.
Mode: Peel, core, and cut the apples into thin slices, and put them into a saucepan with 2 tablespoonfuls of water, the sugar, and minced lemon-rind. Boil all together until quite tender, and pulp the apples through a sieve; if they should not be quite sweet enough, add a little more sugar, and put them at the bottom of the dish to form a thick layer. Stir together the milk, cream, and eggs, with a little sugar, over the fire, and let the mixture thicken, but do not allow it to reach the boiling-point. When thick, take it off the fire; let it cool a little, then pour it over the apples. Whip some cream with sugar, lemon-peel, &c., the same as for other trifles; heap it high over the custard, and the dish is ready for table. It may be garnished as fancy dictates, with strips of bright apple jelly, slices of citron, &c.
Time: From 30 to 40 minutes to stew the apples; 10 minutes to stir the custard over the fire.
Average cost: 1s. 6d.
Sufficient: for a moderate-sized trifle.
Seasonable: from July to March.

1434. INGREDIENTS: 1 quart of gooseberries, sugar to taste, 1 pint of custard No. 1423, a plateful of whipped cream.
Mode: Put the gooseberries into a jar, with sufficient moist sugar to sweeten them, and boil them until reduced to a pulp. Put this pulp at the bottom of a trifle-dish; pour over it a pint of custard made by recipe No. 1423, and, when cold, cover with whipped cream. The cream should be whipped the day before it is wanted for table, as it will then be so much firmer and more solid. The dish may be garnished as fancy dictates.
Time: About 3/4 hour to boil the gooseberries.
Average cost: 1s. 6d.
Sufficient: for 1 trifle. Seasonable: in May and June.


1436. INGREDIENTS: 1 quart of milk, the rind of1/2 large lemon, sugar to taste, 5 heaped tablespoonfuls of rice-flour, 1 oz. of sweet almonds,1/2 pint of custard.
Mode: Boil the milk and lemon-rind together until the former is well flavoured; take out the lemon-rind and stir in the rice-flour, which should first be moistened with cold milk, and add sufficient loaf sugar to sweeten it nicely. Boil gently for about 5 minutes, and keep the mixture stirred; take it off the fire, let it cool a little, and pour it into a glass dish. When cold, cut the rice out in the form of a star, or any other shape that may be preferred; take out the spare rice, and fill the space with boiled custard. Blanch and cut the almonds into strips; stick them over the trifle, and garnish it with pieces of brightly-coloured jelly, or preserved fruits, or candied citron.
Time: 1/4 hour to simmer the milk, 5 minutes after the rice is added.
Average cost: 1s.
Sufficient: for 1 trifle.
Seasonable: at any time.

1489. INGREDIENTS: For the whip, 1 pint of cream, 3 oz. of pounded sugar, the whites of 2 eggs, a small glass of sherry or raisin wine. For the trifle, 1 pint of custard, made with 8 eggs to a pint of milk; 6 small sponge-cakes, or 6 slices of sponge-cake; 12 macaroons, 2 dozen ratafias, 2 oz. of sweet almonds, the grated rind of 1 lemon, a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam,1/2 pint of sherry or sweet wine, 6 tablespoonfuls of brandy.
Mode: The whip to lay over the top of the trifle should be made the day before it is required for table, as the flavour is better, and it is much more solid than when prepared the same day. Put into a large bowl the pounded sugar, the whites of the eggs, which should be beaten to a stiff froth, a glass of sherry or sweet wine, and the cream. Whisk these ingredients well in a cool place, and take off the froth with a skimmer as fast as it rises, and put it on a sieve to drain; continue the whisking till there is sufficient of the whip, which must be put away in a cool place to drain. The next day, place the sponge-cakes, macaroons, and ratafias at the bottom of a trifle-dish; pour over them1/2 pint of sherry or sweet wine, mixed with 6 tablespoonfuls of brandy, and, should this proportion of wine not be found quite sufficient, add a little more, as the cakes should be well soaked. Over the cakes put the grated lemon-rind, the sweet almonds, blanched and cut into strips, and a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam. Make a good custard by recipe No. 1423, using 8 instead of 5 eggs to the pint of milk, and let this cool a little; then pour it over the cakes, &c. The whip being made the day previously, and the trifle prepared, there remains nothing to do now but heap the whip lightly over the top: this should stand as high as possible, and it may be garnished with strips of bright currant jelly, crystallized sweetmeats, or flowers; the small coloured comfits are sometimes used for the purpose of garnishing a trifle, but they are now considered rather old-fashioned.
Average cost: with cream at 1s. per pint, 5s. 6d.
Sufficient: for 1 trifle.
Seasonable: at any time.

Apple Trifle
Christmas Trifle
Dean's Cream
Duke's Custard
Everlasting Syllabub
Lord Mayor's Trifle
Pear Trifle
Suffolk Trifle
Tipsy Squire
Tipsy Trifle
Trifle - Old Type
Westminster Fool

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