Eighteenth-Century English Trifle



  • 4 eggs, separated
  • generous 4 oz / 120 g icing sugar
  • generous 4 oz / 120 g self-raising flour, sifted


  • ¾ pt / 430 ml milk
  • 4 oz / 110 g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 6 egg yolks


  • apricot glaze or redcurrant jelly
  • 12 amaretti
  • ¼ pt / 140 ml cream sherry
  • 1 pt / 570 ml whipping cream
  • toasted flaked almonds


Line a 10 × 14 in / 25.5 × 35.5 cm Swiss roll tin, with buttered greaseproof paper. To make the sponge, whisk the egg yolks over hot water with half the sugar until pale and thick enough to leave a ribbon. Whisk the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar. Fold the flour into the egg yolk mixture, and then fold the two mixtures carefully together. Spread in the prepared Swiss roll tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C / 350°F / Mark 4 for 10–12 minutes. Turn out flat on to a clean tea-towel, peel off the greaseproof paper, trim off the crisp edges, and roll up loosely. Put on one side.

To make the custard, put the milk and sugar in a saucepan with the vanilla pod, and bring to the boil. Pour it over the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Strain the mixture back into a clean saucepan. Retrieve and rinse the vanilla pod for further use, or split it and scrape some of the seeds into the custard. Gently cook the custard until it thickens, but without letting it curdle. Cover and put aside to cool.

Unroll the sponge and spread it with the glaze or jelly, then roll it up again and slice it. Line the bottom of a glass bowl with the sponge slices. Place the amaretti on top, and moisten with the sherry. Spoon on the custard, and chill to set slightly. Whip the cream, and spread on top. Arrange the flaked almonds around the edge and in a daisy pattern on top.