RECIPE: English Trifle

English Trifle

Serves 10 to 12

This recipe will fill a 3 quart bowl, such as a traditional trifle bowl or any similar size bowl.


Sponge Cake

1/2 cup sugar or to taste, plus additional sugar for the cake pan

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for the cake pan

4 large eggs

pinch of salt

Grand Mariner


2 packages of raspberry Jell-O

1 package frozen raspberries, about 12 oz.

1 pint fresh raspberries or an additional package of frozen raspberries

4 cups of cold water, you probably will not use all of it


6 egg yolks 3 tablespoons sugar 3 cups of heavy cream 1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, to taste

Additional ingredients for Assembly

2 cups heavy or whipping cream

2 pints, or more, of fresh raspberries or a mix of blackberries and raspberries

sliced almonds, approximately 2 cups


Sponge Cake

Preheat oven to 350o F


Butter an 8-inch cake pan, place a circle of parchment or wax paper in the bottom and butter the parchment. Sprinkle several teaspoons of sugar into the cake pan, rotate the pan to coat and shake off any excess. Repeat the process with several tablespoons of flour. 

Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl if using a hand mixer and whisk until they are combined. While the mixer is running, add the 1/2 cup of sugar, a little bit at a time and continue to whisk the eggs and sugar until they are thick, foamy and pale yellow. This step may take 5 minutes and at times much as 10 minutes. 

Sift the 3/4 cup of flour and a pinch of salt into the egg mixture. Very gently fold the flour into the egg mixture to avoid deflating the cake batter. Pour the cake batter into the pan, smooth the top and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and will have pulled away from the side of the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge and invert the cake onto a rack. Remove the parchment paper and let it cool while still inverted. 

The cake can be used when it has cooled or kept for several days. If the cake is a slight bit stale it will absorb more liquid and hold up better in the trifle, but either way will work just fine.

Break or cut the cake into pieces about 1" in size and line the bottom of a trifle bowl or any large glass bowl. Sprinkle the cake with a few tablespoons, or to taste, of Grand Mariner.


Add 1 cup of cold water and 1 package of frozen raspberries to a sauce pan and slowly bring to a boil. Stir the raspberries while cooking. 

When the mixture starts to boil add 2 packages of raspberry Jell-O and stir until it dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add enough cold water to bring the mixture up to 4 cups.

Add a pint of fresh raspberries (❨you can substitute frozen)❩ to the trifle bowl on top of the cake and cover with the warm gelatin mixture. The sponge cake will absorb much of the warm gelatin. Cover and place in the refrigerator to set. This can be done the day before serving



Preheat the oven to 350o F

Add the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of sugar to a stand mixer or mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, and whisk them until they are thick and pale yellow, approximately 5 minutes. 

Heat the cream in a heavy bottom sauce pan until you see small bubbles start to form around the edge. Remove from the heat and very slowly pour, whisking constantly, the warm cream into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla extract and strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a 1 quart soufflé dish or a similar size baking dish. The dish should be at least 2 inches deep. 

Place the soufflé dish in a shallow roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the soufflé dish. 

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife or cake tester inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean. Remove the custard from the water and let it come to room temperature. Then cover the custard with plastic wrap, touching the custard and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until the custard is thoroughly chilled. This can also done the day before serving the trifle.

Final Assembly

When you are ready to serve the trifle, you can add some additional fresh raspberries and black berries, if you are using them, on top of the set Jell-O layer. You might also sprinkle some sliced almonds on as well. Then spoon the chilled custard on top to form the next layer. You can also add some additional fresh berries and sliced almonds on top of the custard.


Whip the cream until the it reaches soft peaks. Cover the top of the trifle with the whipped cream. I prefer to make the whipped cream just prior to serving, but you can do it a bit in advance (❨1 hour or less)❩ and keep the trifle in the refrigerator until serving.

You can decorate the top of the whipped cream with additional raspberries and blackberries, as well as sliced almonds, or anyway that you choose. Enjoy.