I suppose trifle comes under the heading of childhood memory food, a dish that resonates with nostalgia and good times. It was never part of my family traditions, but I remember one or two great trifles in restaurants, served covered with rich Jersey cream. One could write pages about trifle, and they would constitute almost a history of the nineteenth-century English household, since trifle is one of those dishes that are for using up leftovers, but leftovers in a kitchen for a large family, a kitchen that was going full tilt every day. Now one has to make the leftovers and probably buy all the jams, rather than using ends of jars and fruit purees. It cannot be made well in small batches, so plan on having ten people to serve it to.
Beat the egg yolks, vanilla, and butter together in a bowl.
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then, while adding the sugar, whisk until the whites are stiff and shiny. The whole process should take 7 minutes.
Fold the egg whites into the egg yolks while at the same time sifting the flour over the mixture. Continue to mix and fold until the yolks and flour are incorporated into the whites.
Butter and dust with flour a 16-by-12-inch jelly-roll pan. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch in the center, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Cut the cake into rounds that will just fit in the large bowl you are planning to use for the trifle. Pour
Scoop out sections of the trifle so that everyone gets some of each layer and serve with thick cream, more custard, and whatever berry puree you have.
© 1986 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.