Wednesday, 30 May 2012

This Is No Trifling Matter

My grandmother's trifle recipe starts with these words: "Begin by soaking some leftover cake in cream sherry overnight".

I have never - never - understood that instruction. 

Leftover cake? The concept is entirely foreign to me. I do not live in a world in which there is such as thing as "leftover cake". Leftover cake! Chuh!

...... that is, not until now. I have to eat my words. Which is lucky, because my words are "leftover cake". How fortunate!  

One unintended consequence of my cake project is that there is a LOT of leftover cake at my house these days. Cake galore. Cake offcuts of strange shapes and sizes. My freezer is filling up with cake packed into takeaway containers that I really, truly should have labelled so that I can tell my lemon cake from my vanilla cake. 

It's getting so bad that I've reached the point where cake is being thrown away. I'd like you to pause right now and just consider the implications of that. 


It is a travesty which cannot be allowed to continue.

And so, dear readers, this is what we are having for dessert at my house tonight. 

Blackforest trifle, layered with cherry jelly, custard, chocolate cake, pitted sour cherries, whipped vanilla cream and topped with Godiva chocolate flakes.

How do you make blackforest trifle? 

Well, you begin by soaking some leftover cake in cream sherry overnight .....

Edit: I've received many requests for the recipe of this trifle since I posted the original pictures. I had no idea it was going to be so popular! Thank you to everyone who has messaged or emailed me. Here is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 Trifle de la Grandma 

Ingredients (makes 6-8)
  • as much "leftover" chocolate cake as you have
  • 2 packets of jelly - port wine or cherry flavour works best
  • 600g jar of sour pitted cherries
  • 1 litre thick vanilla pouring custard
  • 300 mL thick double cream (for whipping)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • sherry (or port, I love Pedro Ximinez for that really rich taste)
  • slivered almonds
  • dark chocolate for grating

The day before you're going to serve the trifles:
  • make and set your jelly. You want it firm, so that it can be cut and won't collapse and dissolve. I recommend using half to two-thirds the amount of water recommended on your packet. 
  • If you're making individual trifles, set jelly about two cm at the bottom of each glass - and then set the rest into a separate bowl. You'll use this other jelly to make the layers in your trifle
  • If you're making one big trifle, set a nice thick layer at the bottom of your serving bowl, but set the rest in a separate bowl, as above.
  • break your chocolate cake up into bite-sized chunks, and put it into a shallow pan or bowl. 
  • drizzle sherry (or port, or grappa, or calvados, or whatever you like) all over the cake. Don't drown it, or it'll go all mushy. You want a nice soft cake with good flavour, not an alcoholic slush. Unless you DO want an alcoholic slush! In which case go right ahead! No judgment here.
  • Stick everything into the fridge.
On the day of serving - you can do this any time during the day so it's ready for your event:
  • start layering your trifle(s)
  • on top of the bottom layer of jelly, add a good layer of chocolate cake
  • add two table spoons of cherries to the cake
  • pour custard over this layer
  • add jelly on top
  • then repeat
  • and repeat
  • and repeat
  • Lastly, open up your vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into a perfectly clean bowl with your double cream.
  • Whisk this up until it makes soft peaks - not firm ones
  • Add a last layer of delicious whipped cream to your amazing trifles
  • sprinkle with slivered almonds
  • grate chocolate over the top
  • serve 
  • sit back and bask in the adulation of guests who praise your culinary amazingness. You deserve it.
Simple! Trifle de la Grandma! You're welcome.


  1. Black Forest Trifle Cake? I may have just died and gone to calorie heaven.

  2. You could also try making cake pops. They're all the rage right now.

  3. that looks so delicious!

  4. Love that idea, and so much less sickly (not to mention heart attack inducing) than the Nigella version! I may just have to make a chocolate cake so that I have some "leftovers"!!! Hurrah!

  5. Is there a step by step recipe for this? It looks delicious!

    1. Hello Emily - I've amended the post to include the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

  6. I have to ask the same as Emily. This looks amazing and I would love to make it for my family gathering in June. Is there a link for the step by step instructions/ingredients?

    1. Hi, I'm happy to say that the post now includes the recipe. Please make it and let me know what you think!

  7. Also wondering if there is a recipe, as this is all over Pinterest! Looks delicious!!

    1. Hi Courtney, it IS delicious! The post now includes the recipe - I hope you like it as much as I do!

  8. Hello everybody,
    I would like to make a trifle like on the photo this but I haven't thé recipe.
    Is it possible to have that ?
    Thank you very much

    1. Hello Aurelie, I'm happy to say I've added the recipe to this post. Have fun, enjoy, and let me know how it went!


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