Serves 4-6

Elderflowers and gooseberries are one of those perfect marriages of flavour. They're in season at the same time too. There should be some gooseberries in the shops now and depending what part of the country you're in there could be elderflowers blossoming. But of course it's easy to buy elderflower cordial. You could also buy a good quality custard if you want to take another short cut.

250g gooseberries
250g sugar
50g sponge cake

for the jelly

150ml water
70ml elderflower cordial
100g caster sugar
3 sheets leaf gelatine
75ml Sauternes or a good dessert wine

for the custard

Half a vanilla pod
300ml single cream
5 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour

for the topping

250ml double cream
60g caster sugar
2tbsp elderflower cordial
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
20g cooked meringue, crushed

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water and cook on a low heat, stirring every so often, until they begin to soften. Turn up the heat and continue cooking for 10-12 minutes until they have broken down to a jam-like consistency. Leave to cool.

For the jelly, bring the water and cordial to the boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved then remove from the heat. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a minute or so until soft. Squeeze out the water, add to the syrup and stir until dissolved, then leave the jelly to cool but do not let it set.

Break the sponge into pieces and put into a glass (or, if you're planning to eat this outside, a clear plastic serving dish) and pour over the Sauternes. Spread about two thirds of the cooked gooseberries over the soaked sponge. Then pour over the cooled, but not set, jelly so it just covers the sponge and gooseberry. Put it in the fridge for an hour or so to set.

Meanwhile if you're not using good quality ready-made (not the yellowy cornflour type), make the custard. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the point of a knife. Put the single cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together. Take out the vanilla pod and pour the cream on to the egg mixture and mix well with a whisk. Return to the pan and cook gently over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens. Make sure it doesn't boil. Remove the custard from the heat and give it a final mix with a whisk. Transfer to a bowl, lay a sheet of clingfilm over the surface of the custard to prevent it forming a skin and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.

Once the jelly has set, spoon over the custard and leave to set for half an hour or so. Now prepare the topping. Put the double cream, sugar, elderflower, lemon juice and nutmeg into a bowl and carefully whisk until fairly firm (this won't take too long as the lemon juice thickens up the cream). Leave in the fridge until the custard has set.

To serve, spoon the cream mixture on top of the trifle. Distribute spoonfuls of the remaining gooseberry mixture over the cream and scatter the crushed meringue on top.

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