Not a trifle matter

No, I am not trying to fool you. It's just that trifle is never a trifle matter. And I also thought I got it all the last time I worte about this wonderful creation. Turns out, there's so much more. Lots. More.

I realise that trifle is a winter pudding. It's after all a Christmas time dessert. But I hold my own opinions about desserts and when I want to eat them (don't we all?). So this for me becomes an all year pudding. When I wrote about trifle almost a year ago, I didn't think I could write more about it, but two years later, I think I can. I'll restate some parts that I wrote before:

...It’s also called Diplomat Pudding, Tipsy Parson, Creole trifle, Tipsy Laird, Bizcocho Borracho...

Such fantastic names, these! Some more unusual names for the pudding: HEDGEHOG pudding, fruit creams, tansies, syllabubs, flummeries, junkets, trifles!

...the Victorians loved the trifle, English clubs served them, the Ritz has it on their menu and it’s held in reverence by the NDA cadets!...

Yes, NDA cadets know this as tipsy pudding - Whether this pudding is really tipsy or not, I can't say for sure - but its one pudding that everyone demands to eat. It is a thick layer of cake yellow sponge cake, pink jelly (I can't be sure if it's raspberry or strawberry), layered with fresh fruit (which usually consists of bananas, apples, and any other seasonal fruit) and doused with fresh cream garnished with cashews and raisins - and any more Tipsy Pudding Expert advice out there is accepted.

From a 1988 article of the The New York Times by Rita D Jacobs - FARE OF THE COUNTRY; English Trifle: Serious Dessert, that you must read but I must say that it is long, so read when you have a lot of time to spare (and have eaten plenty of dessert before hand) early as 1598 an Oxford-educated translator, John Florio, referred to (the pudding) ''A kinde of clouted creame called a foole or a trifle in English.'' ...

The main reason I chose to explore the real deal behind this pudding all over again was when I came across this article on making the perfect trifle in Guardian, that jelly happens to be a controversial ingredient in the humble pudding. Who would have thought? One view is that jelly is a class issue. And like the author of the article, I really pray that it is not. It sounds a little too 'toffee-nosed' to me (I mean no offence, but jelly is pretty and nice to eat, why would it be class issue anyway). While I do have my moments of fondness for posh (or posh sounding), jelly is something that I will resolutely stick with it. Classy or no. And you'll see how much I like it from the picture above - the ruby red shiny jelly on top of the lovely yellow custard. Then again, adding jelly is your choice. It's all about your taste preferences.

Talking about the constituents of a trifle, I found that there is what they call a savoury trifle - beans, meat sauce, layered, ummm... Then there is this line from an article in Delicous magazine "Florence Petty’s The Pudding Lady (1910) tempts the reader with a ‘beef trifle’...." and I hope all you F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans, are thinking about exactly the same episode.. layer of beans, cream, meat, jam... remember?? Apparently there's also something called an Indian trifle - not that I have come across any such thing anywhere in India (and if you have, please, tell me where!), I did find a recipe for it.
So what went into my trifle? Here's my version of the trifle above:

One 9 inch plain vanilla sponge cake - cut into 3 layers.
500 ml of vanilla custard - the one that comes from a box? Yes that.
250 gms chopped grapes
4 medium bananas finely chopped
3 medium apples finely chopped
1 cup mango puree
1 packet strawberry jelly crystals - made into jelly - which gives about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of ready jelly.
1 cup dark rum (whether or not the NDA ipsy Pudding is really 'tipsy' or not, mine certainly is). The alcohol is optional of course. Use fresh fruit juice to soak the cake if you wish. 
Mixed dried fruit

Layer the bottom of a large glass bowl with one layer of the cake (or pieces of cake). Sprinkle (uh, pour) 2-3 tbsp of the rum so that the sponge soaks it in completely. Add to this a layer of custard, then the fruit, a layer of jelly and sprinkle some dried fruit. Then put a second layer of the cake and repeat until all everything is layered into the bowl. If you have leftovers and the bowl cannot fit anymore, just pick out another small bowl and layer the ingredients into that. Then stash it in your fridge and don't tell about it to anyone, you knoaw so you can surprise your folks next day of course (or your it can be very own midnight snack, whatever).

This makes a lot of trifle. Its enough to feed a group of 15 people or more. And although I did not add the whipped cream that's probably the most integral part of a trifle, Scale up or scale down any ingredient you want. Add or remove anything else you like or dislike. As Felicity Cloke writes in her article "Trifle, although a sacred dish, is not one hidebound by ridiculous ritual. As long as you conform to the heaven-sent prescription of layers of cake, fruit, booze, custard and cream, you'll be in for a Christmas treat. Just don't mention the dream topping ..."


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