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The best trifle ever was the one at the summer supper just past; I have had good luck with

Illustration from Isabella Beeton: Book of Household Management

rhubarb puree and lemon curd, and ginger cake – but I’ve also had not so good results that were too firm or too soupy or too crunchy – or too hazelnutt-y.

a la (or is that le?) Alan Davidson, the king of trifle

  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups 1/2 & 1/2
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the half & half and cream in a heavy saucepan until steaming. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch together, and then whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan, place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not overcook or the custard will curdle. Pour it into a bowl, stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool.

Cake – I had a small slab of plain yellow cake, that I split and slathered with apricot jam. I also had a chunk of ginger cake that I cut into small cubes.

Fruit & syrup – 1 cup of fresh farmers market, Door County sweet cherries, and a little more of fresh farmers market, Door County apricots, that have been poached in a syrup that’s 1 cup water & 1 1/2 cups sugar and a vanilla bean. Take out the apricots and boil the syrup down for moistening the cake.

Assembly and serving – the syrup, streusel (this was a streusel leftover from a gluten-free, spring rhubarb-strawberry crumble, with oats, butter, brown sugar, almonds and a few pinenuts), and 1 cup cream.

Layer the jam-ed yellow cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl. Douse it with about 1/4 cup syrup or a little more. Sprinkle with some good handfuls of streusel, and layer in the cherries. Pour in half the custard. Lay on the ginger cake cubes, and syrup them. Then add streusel, apricots and the last of the custard. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight, then whip the cream and pile it on top and serve with a big spoon.

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