Abi’s old-fashioned trifle recipes

  • Share this story
Abi's old-fashioned trifle recipes

Food editor Abigail Donnelly reminisces about trifle and shares two classic, old-fashioned recipes with tinned fruit cocktail.

It’s quite amazing to think that when we used to go out for Sunday lunch at hotels years ago we were served a spoonful of chilled tinned fruit cocktail for dessert. Not much seemed to be fresh back then. I remember it being served in little silver ice cream bowls and whoever got the elusive cherry was deemed to be very lucky. My mom used to put a tin of fruit cocktail into jellies and my gran often used to use it in her famous Saturday high tea trifle, which we had on any special occasion. I don’t often buy it often but I do eye it on the shelf when I’m in the shops; it floods me with good memories and the smell of the trifle. For nostalgia’s sake, here’s my gran’s favourite trifle recipe, as well as another I often make.


Slice a Swiss roll (buy it ready-made or make your own) and use it to line the bottom and sides of a glass bowl. Pour over a good amount of sweet sherry. Chill. Make 2 packets of raspberry jelly using the juice from a can of fruit cocktail to make up some of the liquid. I like more jelly than fruit, so I sometimes add a third packet. Leave the jelly to cool and set slightly in the fridge. If you pour the jelly over the cake when it’s warm, the cake soaks up too much of the jelly. Make a batch of thick custard (or use a good readymade version) and allow to cool. Spoon the jelly onto the Swiss roll, then pour over the cooled custard. Whip some cream and spoon over the top. If you like, scatter over grated chocolate and decorate with glace cherries.


You can also use tinned fruit cocktail in a baked pudding. I remember Dolly Parton making her cuppa cuppa pudding in the film Steel Magnolias. I make it often and it’s so easy. You simply mix 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of flour and a can of fruit cocktail, then pour into a baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes at 180°C. Eat with custard or ice cream.

I noticed the other day that there is a new fruit cocktail called Very Cherry, which has extra cherries in it to make sure that everyone gets at least two – so we can all feel a bit lucky!

Abigail Donnelly Article by: Abigail Donnelly

Nothing excites Woolworths TASTE's Food Director quite as much as the challenge of dreaming up recipes with innovative new foods – or the thrill of creating deliciousness on a plate with the humblest of ingredients. With Abi by your side, you’ll be a cooking expert in no time at all.

Social Media

You might be interested in...