I didn’t expect to be posting anything this month. Quite aside from the usual demands on my time made by my three children, husband and cat (okay, leave the cat out of the equation – being rather proud of his nature, he’s a fairly self-sufficient and independent feline friend), my kitchen currently looks like this …
It certainly doesn’t inspire images of heavenly home-baking and cosy family gatherings around the warmth of the stove.
However, when I read that the theme for this month’s Sugar High Friday was Childhood Delights, I instantly thought of my Mum’s orange trifle. And I knew that here was something I could prepare with the barest of kitchen equipment still available to me (namely, a plastic jug and a microwave). Most importantly, I could not only share the wonders of my Mum’s trifle, but I could also reveal the magical secrets of … The Custard Spoon!
I never liked fruit with “bits” in it as a child. This dislike referred specifically to the seeds in berries, the pips in grapes and the stones in prunes and cherries. I still prefer jelly over jam, and have a reputation in family circles for picking the rind out of the marmalade I spread on my breakfast toast. Manufacturers hadn’t cottoned on to the idea of ‘smooth’ yoghurts for children back then, so my Mum used to patiently sieve the berries out of any yoghurts before giving them to me to eat. Of course, my aversion to ‘bits’ meant that I missed out on many of the desserts typically presented during my childhood days … berry-topped cheesecakes, summer puddings, Black Forest gateaux and trifles.
I had another strong dislike. I couldn’t stand, absolutely hated, cream. Yuk!
When I tell you that my Mum’s trifle was one of my favourite childhood desserts, it’s probably obvious that she made something slightly outside the normal cookbook understanding of ‘trifle’ for me. She used tinned mandarins in place of the more traditional raspberries and cherries, and covered the custard layer with a sprinkling of chocolate flake rather than with lashings of cream.
And when she made a trifle, I always got to lick The Custard Spoon. Mmmm. My girls (and probably T too, when he gets a chance), are following me in this tradition. For the best nostalgic effects, it really has to be an old-fashioned Rattail tablespoon in stainless steel from Sheffield … but as I don’t have one quite like Mum’s, we’ve found that any old spoon can be turned into a perfectly acceptable Custard Spoon.
Mum still makes her trifle for me, even now I’m all “growed up”. L says it’s a “Very, very good trifle and it’s really scrummy”.
When I made my own orange trifle this weekend, L and I fought over the jelly-soaked Swiss roll layer on the bottom … and I’m sure there wasn’t quite as much Flake on the top when I came to serve it as there was when I crumbled it onto the custard. Hmmm …
Mum’s Orange Trifle
(The exact amount of ingredients required varies according to the size of your dish – Mum probably uses a couple of tins of mandarins as her trifles are fairly sumptuous!)
Cut the Swiss roll into 1/2″ slices and use to line the bottom of a glass bowl or dish.
Cover with a layer of mandarins.
Make up the orange jelly according to the instructions on the packet (the microwave method is the easiest). Pour over the cake and fruit levels of the trifle until the jelly covers the mandarins (any remaining jelly can be poured into small bowls or jelly moulds). Place in the fridge and leave until the jelly is set.
Make up the custard according to the instructions on the packet. The custard needs to be thick enough to set when cold, so make sure that it boils. Leave it to cool slightly, then pour over the jelly layer. Enjoy any leftover custard with The Custard Spoon. Return the trifle to the fridge until the custard is set.
Before serving, crumble the Flake over the top of the custard.