Wild strawberry trifle

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

The trifle I remember as a kid consisted of tinned diced fruits and sherry-soaked sponge under a pile of Bird's Custard. Since then, I've discovered that trifle is an interesting, versatile dessert that can be adapted to take all sorts of fruits (preferably not tinned). Summer and autumn berries are perfect. Here, I've been a bit extravagant and used wild strawberries, but if you can't find any, just use ordinary British strawberries.

A trifle as delicate as this one doesn't need to be spiked with sherry, as the intense flavour of the strawberries in the jelly should shine through. I've even left out the sponge in this recipe and folded a bit of meringue into the cream topping, but you can put a sponge layer on the bottom if you like.

100-150g wild strawberries (or sliced ordinary strawberries)

For the jelly

220ml water
150g ripe strawberries
80g caster sugar
6g leaf gelatine (2 sheets)

For the custard

300ml single cream
vanilla pod
5 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2tsp cornflour

For the topping

250ml double cream
40g caster sugar
50-60g cooked meringue

For the jelly, put the water, strawberries and sugar into a pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in a shallow bowl of cold water for a minute or so until soft. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the strawberries through a fine sieve, pushing some of the pulp through. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine, then add to the hot strained syrup and stir until dissolved. Leave the jelly to cool, but do not let it set. Divide a quarter of the strawberries among four individual glass serving dishes or place in one large glass dish and pour over half of the cooled liquid jelly. Leave in the fridge to set. Repeat with another quarter of the strawberries and the rest of the jelly and leave to set.

Meanwhile, make the custard. Put the single cream into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the point of a knife and add to the cream. Slowly bring to the boil, then 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, mixing well with a whisk. Return to the pan and cook gently over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens; don't let it boil. Remove from the heat and give it a final mix with a whisk. Transfer to a bowl, lay a sheet of clingfilm on 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 the cooled custard evenly on top, then cover and leave to set in the fridge for half an hour or so.

For the topping, whip the double cream with the sugar in a bowl until fairly firm and put into the fridge until the custard on the trifle has set. Break the meringue into pieces and fold into the cream mixture. Spoon over the custard layer and then scatter the rest of the strawberries on top of the trifle.

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