Old English Sherry Trifle

A trifle delicious

Taken from A Cook’s Tour of Britain – a ‘sumptuous collection of more than 400 British recipes, both favourite and traditional, gathered through the enterprising network of the WI and presented by Michael Smith, an indefatigable promoter of the pleasures of British food.’

The Book was published by WI Books in 1984 and includes this lovely recipe for Old English Sherry Trifle, variations of which have been with us since the eighteenth century.



  • 2×7 inch/18cm fatless sponge cakes or 1 packet small sponge cakes
  • 1lb/450g apricot puree, apricot jam or quince jelly


  • 1 pint/575ml double cream
  • 4oz/110g glace cherries
  • 4oz/110g blanched or toasted almonds
  • 2oz/50g each crystallized apricots, crystallized pears or Carlsbad plums
  • 2oz/50g crystallized chestnuts
  • 4oz/110g ratafia biscuits
  • Angelica
  • Custard sauce (Waitrose do a fabulously yummy pot of ready-to-eat vanilla custard)
  • A good dash of Sherry


1 Use good quality sponge cakes. Split the sponge cakes in half across their middles: liberally spread them with puree, jam or jelly, sandwich them together and cut into 1 inch/2.5cm fingers.

2 Arrange these in a shallow trifle dish, about 12 inch/30cm across the top and 3 inch/7.5cm deep.

3 Sprinkle the sponge fingers with plenty of Sherry, pour the custard over and cool the trifle base completely.

4 Prepare all the topping ingredients – the actual quantities will depend on the area of trifle to be covered and this is bound to vary slightly. Cut the crystallized apricots or pears or chestnuts and Carlsbad plums into attractive quarters. Cut long spikes of angelica.

5 Empty the packet of ratafias to free them from biscuit crumbs. Make sure that the blanched or toasted almonds are cold or they will melt the cream. Put each topping ready on a separate plate.

6 Whip the cream until it just stands in peaks but doesn’t look like it will be cheese at any minute! Spread a thick layer over the trifle.

7 Decorate at will with the other topping ingredients – serve up in bowls or grab a spoon and get stuck in!


Published in: on May 31, 2011 at 10:32 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Such a beautiful trifle! It would almost be a shame to ruin it my diving my spoon into the middle. Almost … x

  2. Thanks for visiting the Cake Spot, Georgie!

  3. Wow this is just the sort of trifle my mum used to make at Christmas, it looks amazing and I will definately be trying your recipe out this Chrismas on my own family.

  4. As a child I remember a delicious sponge cake made by my mum using a “cake mix” — I think it was called Cako-Mako (not sure of the spelling). Does anyone remember it?

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