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Christmas Trifle Recipe

Add this easy to create sweet dessert to your dinner table on Christmas day!


1 x 450g / 14 oz Madeira cake or Pound cake store-bought

1/3 cup orange or other fruit flavoured liquor (like Cointreau), or other fruit juice

7 tsp gelatine powder

6 cups Cranberry juice, original

2 - 3 punnets strawberries, halved

1 each punnet blueberries, raspberries


2 1/2 cups heavy / thickened cream

3 tbsp white sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Homemade thick custard:

3 cups milk

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

1/4 cup caster sugar

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup cornflour / cornstarch


  • Cut cake into 3 cm / 1.2″ cubes. Cover bottom of 3.5 L / 3.5 qt trifle dish with cake (might not use all) and sprinkle with liquor or juice.

Cranberry Jelly:

  • Put half the cranberry juice into a saucepan over medium heat (3 cups / 750ml). Bring to a simmer, then turn off the stove.

  • Meanwhile, put remaining room temperature cranberry juice into a bowl. Sprinkle gelatine all across the surface (don't dump in one place). Whisk until mostly dissolved.

  • Pour in hot cranberry juice. Whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Proceed with the recipe – jelly will be warm.

Jelly Layer 1:

  • Pour HALF the cranberry jelly liquid carefully over the cake in the trifle dish. Refrigerate uncovered for 1.5 hours until it is partly set – still quite soft, but not watery (ie if you gently place a strawberry on it, it will stay on the surface).

  • Pour remaining jelly in a bowl and leave it on the counter (do not refrigerate).

  • Meanwhile, make the custard (see below).

Custard Layer:

  • Remove trifle from the fridge. Spoon over the custard, smooth surface, press on the glass to seal (stops jelly bleed). Refrigerate for 1 hour until the surface has firmed up a bit – just enough to hold the jelly (jelly is soft so the custard doesn’t need to be fully set).

  • Put remaining jelly in the fridge at the same time. CHECK jelly at 30 minutes, just to ensure it's not setting too fast.

Jelly Layer 2:

  • Remove trifle and jelly from the fridge. Jelly should be sloppy. Carefully spoon over the jelly, smooth surface. Scatter over 1 punnet halved strawberries (or half each raspberry and strawberries). Refrigerate for 3 hours+ (can leave in the fridge for 48 hours, until ready to assemble).


  • Cream: Beat cream, sugar and vanilla until softly whipped.

  • Once jelly is set, just before serving, top with cream, then pile over remaining berries. Dust with icing sugar.

  • Serve!! PS It is imperative to ensure every servings includes a bit of every layer in the trifle

Homemade Custard:

  • Bring milk, ¼ cup sugar and vanilla to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ¼ cup sugar and yolks, then whisk in cornflour until smooth.

  • While whisking, carefully pour in about ½ cup of milk mixture. Once mixed in, slowly pour in remaining milk while whisking. Once incorporated and smooth, pour back into saucepan.

  • Return saucepan to stove over low heat. Whisk constantly until it becomes thick and custardy – this will happen quite quickly, about 45 seconds (ie it is liquidy when you start, then suddenly it thickens). Once thickened, remove immediately from heat – it will continue to thicken.

  • Pour into a bowl and cover with cling wrap, pressing onto surface. Leave on the counter until the trifle is ready to layer with custard. Makes 750ml.

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