This week is the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Sixty years as a reigning British monarch is no mean feat – only Queen Victoria reigned longer, for 63 years and 7 months to be precise. So with a little luck, Queen Elizabeth II may yet go down in history as the longest-ever reigning British monarch.
Having grown up in England, I naturally gravitate towards this kind of historic occasion. The pomp and ceremony is always interesting to watch, but the most important part for me is the way in which ordinary people share in this celebration. One of the most popular ways to celebrate is to have a street party, and if there isn’t one near to your home then you just ask friends and family to come round for a home party. Parties of course mean food!
Amongst the many different party desserts you might be offered in England is English Trifle. This is a truly English dessert with origins as far back as 1596! It is traditionally served at parties and quite quick and easy to make. The basic ingredients are ladyfingers (called sponge fingers in England), alcohol or fruit juice to soak into the ladyfingers, fruit (such as the strawberries pictured), ready-made custard and whipped cream.
The super thing about trifle is that you can vary it in lots of different ways. My mother, both of my grandmothers, various aunts and a couple of cousins all developed their own trifle recipe. Berry fruits and sherry trifle is one example and chocolate muffin, mandarin and whisky trifle another. Delicious!
My favorite trifle has to be my mother’s recipe, made with fresh strawberries and sweet sherry and that is what I’m going to share with you today. So in honor of the special week in England I present my “Diamond Jubilee Trifle.”
Use a glass dish, about 8 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 inches deep. For a bigger trifle simply use a larger dish and double the ingredients!
7 or 8 Ladyfingers
1/3 cup (3 fluid ounces) sweet sherry
8 ounces fresh, ripe strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 pint ready-made custard
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 bar of your favorite chocolate (grated)
Optional extra ingredient is strawberry Jell-O — to pour over the chopped fruit and ladyfingers but this extends preparation time.
Step 2 – Pour the sweet sherry over the ladyfingers and allow to soak.
Step 3 – Wash, remove stalks and chop the strawberries in half. Place in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar, and leave to stand whilst preparing the remaining ingredients.
Step 4 – Have the ready-made custard open and ready to pour and whip the cream.
Step 5 – Spread the strawberries over the top of the ladyfingers. Option here for using Jell0-O — pour Jell-O over the 2 layers of fruit and ladyfingers and leave to set.
Step 6 – Pour the custard over the strawberries, smoothing out gently with a spoon to ensure all gaps are filled and you have an even layer.
Step 8 – Sprinkle the grated chocolate on top and refrigerate (minimum of 1 hour) before serving.
I hope you enjoy this little taste of Englishness in what is a special week for all English people.