20th Century: Retro Trifle


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    people, made in a 30 cm 12 inch bowl

Appears in

Pride and Pudding: The History of British Puddings, Savoury and Sweet

Pride and Pudding

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2016

  • About

As far as retro trifles go, you can come across constructions made with layers of custard, cream, jelly, fruit encased in jelly, tinned fruit, fresh fruit, Swiss roll cake, stale cake, lady fingers; just about anything you can soak in booze and layer in a bowl.

Compared to some of the fantastic trifles of which I wish I had fond childhood memories, my retro trifle is very simple. My favourite trifle is still the first trifle, so this one isn’t very far removed from it. This trifle is just as ‘soupy’ as the first trifle, but if you prefer a more solid consistency, add a tablespoon of cornflour (cornstarch) to your custard when putting it back on the stove for thickening.



Make a layer of lady fingers followed by a few ratafia biscuits, just enough so that every serving will have one. Drizzle the biscuits with enough brandy to cover them generously. Pour the cold custard over the biscuits and put it in the fridge to rest for about 15 minutes. Make a crown of strawberry halves all around the outer edge of the custard layer and fill the centre with more strawberry halves.

If you are a jelly lover, you could add a jelly layer at this point. Simply pour in cooled but not set jelly over the berries and refrigerate until set.

Scoop the syllabub on top of the strawberries. Add another layer of boozy lady fingers and a couple of broken up ratafias, if you still have some left, followed by a layer of whipped cream. Decorate the top with sliced or halved strawberries.

Stand in the fridge for an hour, or until you need it, so the flavours can develop and mature. This trifle can easily be made in the morning for an evening dinner.

For a variation use peaches or nectarines stewed with cinnamon and sugar; allow the fruit to cool before assembling the trifle. You can also omit the whipped cream and use more syllabub instead.