The very best – Granny Barker’s Trifle

My sisters reminded me recently about the very special trifle that we used to make on Christmas day.

The whole day seemed to be spent preparing for a huge, very late lunch and after devouring a large turkey with all the trimmings we would then confront Granny Barker’s Trifle.

Mind you, at that stage we still had several more courses to go including Plum Pudding flamed with liberal amounts of brandy (and Brandy Butter) and hand-picked raspberries with cream (picked by yours truly after church on Christmas morning after picking and podding the peas!)

The big rich trifle was a tradition decreed by my Grandmother, Constance Barker, and with help from my sister’s Celia & Esther, I have described it below. Our new fruitier Barker’s preserves will go really well in this super rich and indulgent dessert. I suggest Morello Cherries, Raspberries or perhaps the Blueberries with Cranberries fruit preserve.

I always used to get up early on Boxing Day and sit in front of the fridge and polish it off… before my sisters could!
  • Slice bought slab sponge (or homemade) into fingers. Lather Barker’s Raspberries fruit preserve liberally onto 2 sides of each piece for flavour and sweetness, placing them in your serving bowl as you go.
  • Pour liberal slurps of sherry over the jammy fingers. Rest the sponge with alcohol while the custard cools (as it is best not to pour on hot custard as it loses the alcohol with evaporation). Pour a generous amount of cooled homemade egg custard over the sponge (use a knife at intervals to part the sponge and let the custard reach the bottom of the bowl, and top with more custard as necessary).
  • In winter, it’s nice to add frozen blueberries over the filling (before spreading the cream on top) for extra fruitiness. This really compliments the jam and particularly good in when you haven`t got fresh summer berries to serve or decorate with.
  • Spread with whipped cream, decorate with blanched almonds, cherries and or berries (bananas also good) of your choice. Finely grate or shave dark chocolate over the top. Refrigerate overnight or at least half a day before required. YUM!!! Also very good for breakfast the next day!!
P.S. Instead of Sherry we used to use our very own Fortified Elderberry Wine which was known as “Barker’s Negus” but that is another story! Another option is 1/3 cup brandy.

P.P.S. You really need a very lovely big china or crystal bowl to do credit to this trifle! Our bowl was hand painted and very old.

P.P.P.S. I still remember being taught to make that egg custard in an old enamel double boiler (but I was never entrusted with the job on Christmas Day!)

Here is our custard recipe below too, if you ever need it. It’s easy to make and perfect for trifle!
  • 570ml milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (can add less or more)
  • vanilla extract (or essence)
Beat all the ingredients together (except the vanilla) in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl placed over boiling water. Stir until custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Take off the heat, beat custard with a hand held beater then add the vanilla. Cool then place in fridge until cold. (If it separates a little this can be retrieved with the beating!) Beat again before using so custard is smooth. This quantity will go with 3x small sponge slabs. Serves 8 approx.