Pam’s Trifle

Trifle is a luscious British dessert that has stood the test of time. It usually consists of a cake layer, fruit, jelly, custard and cream. There are many variations of those key ingredients and a few methods of preparation. This is my mother’s recipe. She learned it from her mother and no doubt it has been passed down over many generations. Every Christmas and special occasion my mum would make a trifle and we would polish it off. It is an easy dessert to make but you do need to give yourself some time as the jelly needs to set and it definitely tastes better the next day. You can go the extra mile and make the sponge cake and custard from scratch, but it’s still delicious using store bought ingredients. My mum, my beautiful English rose passed away a few years ago. I am so grateful she taught me to cook and she lives on through her recipes.

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  • 2 x 85 gram packets of jelly (Port Wine or Raspberry)
  • 500 grams of fruit (your choice i.e. tinned fruit salad – drained, tinned peaches- drained, strawberries, raspberries, bananas)
  • 500 mls thick vanilla custard (can be home made or shop bought)
  • 250 gram packet jam rollettes (or equivalent weight of madeira cake, swiss roll or sponge)
  • 1/3 cup Apera (sherry) – optional
  • 300 mls thickened cream
  • 2 teaspoons icing sugar mixture
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 Cadbury Flake bar


  • Slice the cake and place it in the bottom and half way up the side of a large serving bowl until you have used all the cake up.
  • Layer the fruit over the cake. Sprinkle with Apera (sherry) if you are adding alcohol to the dish.
  • Place jelly crystals in a heatproof bowl. Add 500 mls of boiling water. Whisk until crystals have dissolved. Stir in 300ml cold water. Pour the jelly over the cake and fruit making sure the jelly coats the cake. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.
  • Spoon custard over the jelly.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat cream, sugar and vanilla essence until soft peaks form. Top trifle with cream mixture. Cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Top with crushed Flake bar.



  • If you are using tinned fruit in your trifle reserve the juice and replace it for the equivalent amount of cold water when making the jelly.
  • Do not use fresh pineapple, kiwi fruit or paw paw as the jelly will not set properly.
  • You can make trifle in individual glass bowls or glasses.
  • If you use store bought custard make sure it is a very thick one.