Any good vanilla sponge cake will do for the base, really, but Abi says she’s quite partial to fingers of Madeira loaf – soaked in a healthy dose of sweet Old Brown sherry.
“To make the jelly, I start by poaching red plums in either berry juice or water with a bit of sugar,” says Abi. “I then prepare a packet of raspberry jelly, using one cup of hot water, and one cup of the reserved poaching liquid to replace the standard cup of cold water, and pour it over the plums.”
Abi is all about the layered look, so she advises letting the jelly cool down enough until it’s semi-set, or a “pourable wobble”, before layering it on top of the cake. This prevents the jelly from soaking into the cake too much.
Family tradition dictates good old instant custard be used for this layer. “When we were kids we loved making the slurry with the powder and water,” she says. “To prevent a skin from forming, lay a sheet of clingwrap directly onto the surface of the cooling custard. My grandfather used to love the custard skin, but no-one in our house really likes it much.”
Whipped cream, plain and simple. No sugar, no frills, just unadulterated creamy goodness.
“My mom used to top the trifle with glacé cherries and preserved angelica, but you can’t really find the angelica anymore,” says Abi. “I’ve changed the toppings slightly by adding grated chocolate and loads of gold and silver sugar balls. My mom doesn’t approve, but the kids love them.”