My Mennonite Mom’s Authentic English Trifle

trifle- trust in kim

Everyone who tries my mom’s trifle says it’s the best, so naturally when I was looking for a trifle recipe for Christmas Eve dinner, I asked her to share her recipe with me.  She gave me a photocopy of a recipe that looks like it came from a magazine.  It says it is from The Best of Mme Jehane Benoit, who is apparently Canada’s Julia Child.

Rather than using fruit, which my mom says makes the cake layer too soggy, this recipe uses jam.  Of course there’s the sherry, custard, and whipping cream – so good and so bad all at the same time! It’s not very difficult to make, but you do need to make it ahead of the time so the sherry, jam and pudding can soak into the cake. It’s nice to serve this in a glass bowl so you can see the layers.  You could also make it in individual dishes, but I like the way it is beautifully layered andthen becomes a beautiful mess of creamy, jammy goodness when it is served.

Hmmm, I think there’s some leftovers in the fridge…

What you need for the cake: (or just buy a sponge cake)

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 cups sifted flour

1 & 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold water

1 teaspoon almond extract

What you need for the other layers:

4 eggs yolks

2 cups half and half cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1/2 cup sherry

toasted almonds to garnish (optional)

What you do:

1. To make the cake, beat the eggs with the sugar for about 5 minutes, until it is very light in colour.

2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, and lightly beat it into the egg mixture.

3. Briefly mix in the water and almond extract.  Pour into a greased 9 by 11 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool completely.

4. To make the custard, beat the egg yolks until they are  pale yellow. Heat the half and half cream with the 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla.  Add the egg yolks to the hot cream, beating very hard.  Cook without boiling, stirring continuously, until the custard has thickened a little. It won’t be a thick custard, but this is good because it will soak into the cake easily.  Allow the custard to cool.

5. Whip the cream with the icing sugar.

6. I like to remove the seeds from the jam because I don’t like to bite them or get them stuck in my teeth, but you don’t need to do this step if you don’t mind the seeds.  I just press the jam through a sieve with a spatula.

7. Spread the jam over the cake, then cut it into finger-sized pieces.  Dip each piece in the sherry (or just place it in the sherry bowl and sprinkle sherry over the top.)

8. Make a layer of the jammy sherried cake fingers in the bottom of the bowl, with the jam side facing up. Spread half of the custard over the cake layer, then spread half of the whipping cream over the custard.  Repeat with another layer of cake, custard and cream.

9. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.  Top with toasted almonds, if you wish, and then indulge in creamy goodness!

Maple Butternut Squash Soup

The sun came out today and reminded me that I only have a little more time to make winter soups!  So here is a squash soup I’ve been meaning to post for a long time, one that I’ve been making for years.  The baked cauliflower topping, however, is a new addition, and I’m going to make it like this again.

I know that the sticker on your squash probably tells you that the easiest way to cook it is in the microwave.  This may be true, however, I find oven-baking it makes it taste sweeter, and it’s also more satisfying.  Also, you can cook the cauliflower while the squash is baking.

What you need:

1 medium-sized butternut squash

2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)

2 stalks celery

1/2 large sweet onion (I cry less over sweet onions – you can use a regular one if you wish)

1 red or yellow sweet pepper

1/4 cup white wine (I used riesling)

1/4 teaspoon dry tarragon leaves, crumbled (1/2 teaspoon fresh)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

3-4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

maple syrup to taste

salt to taste, unless your stock already has salt in it

1/4 cup dry sherry – optional but amazing!

1 cauliflower, an optional topping

What you do:

1.  Cut the squash in half, de-seed and lay on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes or until it pierces easily with a knife.  At the same time you can cut the cauliflower into florets and bake for the same amount of time, until browned.

2.  Cook the onion, celery and pepper in butter for several minutes.  Add the spices, then the wine, and cook for a few more minutes.  Add half of the stock and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

3.  When the squash is cooked, allow it to cool enough to be handled.  Puree it, along with a cup of the stock, then add it to the vegetables.

4.  Heat the soup through, then add the maple syrup, sherry, and salt to taste.

5.  Top with chopped roasted cauliflower to serve.