Our favourite Victorian Masterchef is back with a new lesson in 19th-century cooking. Watch the cook at Audley End House, Mrs Crocombe, prepare a trifle for Lord and Lady Braybrooke.
Trifles are still remarkably popular today, regularly appearing on dessert menus across the country. They have been around since the 18th century but became popular in the Victorian era. Back in Mrs Crocombe’s day there wasn’t one consistent recipe as every cook had their own version and included their own spin on the classic – much like we do today. Some historic variations were even savoury, which were essentially hollowed-out fried bread filled with fine delicacies like paté.
We think this is a tasty, easy recipe with lots of opportunities to add your favourite flavours. We suggest adding flowers to decorate your trifle just as Mrs Crocombe would have done, but make sure you use edible varieties as certain species can be dangerous to eat. Audley End House itself was often decorated with flowers from the beautiful gardens.
Why not mix up your next dinner party and serve a Victorian style treat to your guests?
- 100g leftover sponge cake
- 100g ratafia biscuits or macaroons
- 50 ml brandy
- 125ml port or sherry
- 1 teacup of jam
- 100g crystallized fruit, such as ginger and cherries
- 500ml custard. You need to add either 2x sheets of gelatine or 2 tbsp of cornflour to it when you are making it so that it will set.
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 ¼ pints whipping cream
- 1tbsp caster sugar
For the decoration:
- slivered blanched almonds
- small cubes of crystallised fruit
- anything else you like (flowers are always nice – but be careful to choose edible varieties as some varieties of flowers can be dangerous to eat)
- Cut your sponge cake into slices. This recipe is excellent for using up leftover sponge cake. You may prefer to use a fatless sponge as it is slightly lighter.
- Layer these into a deep glass dish, and pour over the brandy.
- Spread your jam on top – you can use whatever flavor you like.
- Chop your fruit and add this in an even layer on top. Now add your macaroons or ratifia biscuits, and over this pour your port or sherry.
Leave this to soak for 10-15 minutes.
- If you haven’t any custard to hand, this is the time to make it. The custard needs to set, so if it’s not got gelatin in, reheat and add 2 sheets (soaked first), or whisk up cornflour in a little milk, and add it to the hot custard. Add your ground almonds and allow to cool to room temperature then spread over your trifle evenly.
- Whip the cream into soft peaks for piping and add some sugar. Pipe this onto your custard, building up layers of cream.
- Decorate your trifle using almonds, crystallised fruit and edible flowers.
Join Mrs Crocombe on YouTube
Discover a series of Mrs Crocombe’s Victorian recipes on our YouTube channel that would have been served to the Braybrooke household during the 19th century.
Each recipe is based on traditional recipes from the time as well as Mrs Crocombe’s surviving cookbook.
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