Quick Sherry Trifle

Sherry trifle
Rob White/Getty
  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

Trifle is one of the quintessential puddings that have graced British tables for centuries. Dating back to the 16th century, this dessert, even if evolved and changed, is always made out of a sponge cake, fruit, and custard, with other ingredients and variations added depending on the cook. But no matter your choices, this dessert, beautifully presented in a glass bowl showing off the layers, is always a delight. Alternatively, use dessert glasses to make individual trifles.

Our version is a quick sherry trifle, and unlike traditional trifle, it's made using ready-made custard or custard made with custard powder. You can, of course, make your own custard but then it wouldn't be too quick to make! Likewise, we use ready sponge cake, so the assemblage process takes less than 10 minutes.

If you use the optional sherry in this recipe, it becomes an adults-only dessert.


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  • 10 ounces sponge cake (halved and cut into thick slices)
  • 10 ounces fresh strawberries (or raspberries)
  • Optional: 6 tablespoons sweet sherry
  • 2 cups custard (ready-made or made with a mix of custard powder)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (softly whipped)
  • Garnish: 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted, flaked almonds

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Line the bottom of a trifle dish or individual glasses with the cake slices.

  3. Slice the strawberries, setting aside some for decoration, and layer them evenly over the cake. Press the berries lightly with a fork to release their juices. Sprinkle with the optional sherry. Omit the alcohol altogether if you're serving the trifle to children.

  4. Spoon over the custard in a thick, even layer.

  5. Finish with a good thick layer of whipped cream, either spooned over or piped using a piping bag.

  6. Decorate with strawberry slices and a few toasted sliced almonds.

  7. Although you can eat right away, the more time you allow to cool and set the better it will be.

  8. Enjoy!

Quick Trifle Variations

Make delicious variations on this classic dessert:

  • Chocolate Trifle: Layer sponge, custard, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. Dust with sweet cocoa powder and decorate with walnuts and fresh berries.
  • Biscotti Trifle: Instead of using sponge cake, layer ladyfingers or almond biscotti, cover with custard, berries, whipped cream.
  • Dulce de Leche Trifle: Layer sponge cake with custard, add 1 cup of dulce de leche (thick milk caramel spread), top with crushed vanilla wafers, and finish up with whipped cream. Decorate with piped dulce de leche.
  • Vanilla-Chocolate Trifle: Buy vanilla and chocolate custards. Layer sponge cake, pour 1 cup of sweetened dark coffee. Add a layer of vanilla custard, cover with more sponge cake, coffee, and a layer of chocolate custard. Finish with whipped cream and dust with sweet cocoa powder.
  • Tropical Trifle: Mix 1/2 cup of condensed milk with 1/2 cup of mango juice concentrate. Layer the sponge cake and pour the sweet mango mixture on top of the cake. Add custard, chopped pieces of sweet mango, and the whipped cream. Decorate with thinly sliced pieces of canned pineapple.
  • Coffee Trifle: Mix 2 teaspoons of instant coffee with 1 tablespoon of milk. Add the coffee mixture to the custard. Layer sponge cake and cover with coffee custard, chopped almonds, and whipped cream. Decorate with chocolate-covered coffee beans.
  • Pumpkin trifle: Mix 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree with the custard. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice mix. Layer sponge cake with pumpkin custard and whipped cream. Decorate with pumpkin-flavored cookies.