The Dean’s Trifle

The Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge, in the late nineteenth century preferred this to any other trifle and insisted that it should appear on the High Table at all college feasts.


  • 8 oblong sponge cakes (bought in a packet)
  • Raspberry jam
  • Apricot jam
  • ¼ lb (120 g) ratafia biscuits or macaroons
  • cups (3 dl) sherry
  • cup (6 dl) double cream
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) castor sugar
  • ½ cup brandy angelica
  • ¾ cup (120 g) glacé cherries
  • ¾ cup (120 g) crystallized pineapple


Cut the sponge cakes in half lengthways. Lightly spread 8 halves with raspberry jam and 8 with apricot jam. Arrange them in a very large glass or china bowl, jam sides upwards and piled two or three deep. Crumble the ratafias or macaroons and put them with the sponge cakes. Pour over the sherry and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes.

Whip the cream, sugar and brandy as for a solid syllabub. Pile over the wine and cake mixture and decorate with angelica, cherries and pineapple. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.