Recipe VIDEO above. The one thing that will elevate your Trifle from "ok" to PHENOMENAL is making jelly with real cranberry juice instead of using artifical flavoured jelly. It's no different to making instant jelly - it's just that you use fruit juice and gelatine instead of flavoured jelly crystals! Make real jelly, then you can totally get away with using store bought shortcuts for everything else - like the custard and cake. NOTE: I used to use flavourless Aeroplane Jelly for the jelly (click here for the original recipe). It's no longer available, so the recipe uses plain gelatine instead which was preciously an alternative in the notes. Video not yet refilmed. Will do so next year!
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.
Optional extra: Scatter over 1/2 to 1 punnet halved strawberries (this is not in ingredients list).
Put half the cranberry juice into a saucepan over medium heat (3 cups / 750ml). Bring to a simmer, then turn off stove.
Meanwhile, put remaining room temperature cranberry juice into a bowl. Sprinkle gelatine all across surface (don't dump in one place). Whisk until mostly dissolved.
Pour in hot cranberry juice. Whisk until gelatin is fully dissolved. Proceed with 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 on the counter (do not refrigerate).
Meanwhile, make the custard (see below).
Remove trifle from fridge. Spoon over the custard, smooth surface, press on glass to seal (stops jelly bleed). Refrigerate for 1 hour until surface has firmed up a bit - just enough to hold the jelly (jelly is soft so custard doesn't need to be fully set).
Put remaining jelly in the fridge at the same time (to thicken a bit, but not too much, see video, so you get a neat, clear layer of jelly - read Note 5). CHECK jelly at 30 minutes, just to ensure it's not setting too fast.
Jelly Layer 2:
Remove trifle and jelly from fridge. Jelly should be sloppy. Carefully spoon over jelly, smooth surface. Scatter over 1 punnet halved strawberries (or half each raspberries and strawberries). Refrigerate for 3 hours+ (can leave in 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 😂
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 trifle is ready to layer with custard. Makes 750ml. (Note 5)
1. CAKE: Any cake will work fine with this. Pound and Madeira are ideal and readily available at supermarkets. Homemade Vanilla Cake will also work a treat. Christmas Cake is also great but it's a dark brown colour.2. JELLY: Note this recipe used to be made with flavourless Aeroplane jelly (click here for the original recipe) but that is no longer available (as of 2020). Video is to be updated. Recipe always provided a plain gelatine option in the notes as an alternative so now that has become the base recipe.Gelatine powder: I use McKenzie's sold in the baking aisle, US: 3 x 7g sachets Knox plain gelatin, UK: 2 x 12g sachets Dr Oetker (close enough to 21g)Cranberry juice - you MUST use Cranberry Juice with sugar added, such as Ocean Spray brand called Cranberry Classic here in Australia. Otherwise your jelly won't be sweet at all (Cranberries are sour). Cranberry Juice is sold in the aisles.Got the wrong juice? No worries! Just dissolve 1/2 cup white sugar into the cranberry juice heated up on the stove to make it sweet.No artificial jelly! You’ll find many trifle versions made using raspberry and strawberry flavoured Aeroplane jelly. I find them too artificial - especially because there's so much jelly in this dish! I really think it’s worth the small effort of making a jelly made using real Cranberry Juice, the flavour difference is astonishing, it’s real.3. STORE BOUGHT CUSTARD: I would use store bought custard over flavoured Aeroplane Jelly, to save time. Add a dash of vanilla to freshen it up. Make sure you get DOUBLE THICK Custard (Pauls is good, Woolies, Coles etc in fridge section).4. VANILLA BEAN PASTE has little black specks in it, like when you use an actual vanilla bean. It's optional, you can just use normal vanilla!5. Neat jelly layers - the first layer of jelly is poured over while liquid and will set with a flat surface and clear. The 2nd layer of jelly on the custard has to be spooned on. You can't pour liquid jelly over custard as it breaks the custard surface no matter how gently you pour it , and the liquid jelly also seeps into the custard which cases untidy bleeding.On the other hand, if you let the 2nd layer of jelly set then carefully spoon it on, you end up with untidy broken bits of jelly in the layer, rather than being clear.Solution? Let the jelly only partially set, so it's still sloppy but enough to spoon it on. It's firm enough to create a neat layer on the custard (no bleeding) and once fully set, it's crystal clear (rather than broken and bubbly).6. CUSTARD: You want the custard mostly cooled but not set. When slightly cooled, it is like soft whipped cream so you can spoon it on the trifle and it spreads smoothly. If it cools too much and sets, just use an egg beater and beat until smooth. Once refrigerated in the trifle, it thickens even more – it’s not like a firm set custard that’s cut-able into clean pieces (like firm tofu), it is softer than that, it's more like silken tofu ie. you can cut it cleanly but it's wobbly and soft.7.Source - I feel bad providing the recipe reference because I had issues with it, but I must because it is where the original idea came from and the end result looks so similar. I made this trifle recipe from Taste.com.au as written, I had problems with untidy layers / bleeding and I really did not enjoy the flavour of the artificial jelly. I also found the trifle didn't fill a standard trifle dish enough. So I used this recipe as a reference point, but reconstructed it pretty much from scratch.