From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering
1. Choose an attractive glass bowl of about 8 cup capacity. Cut cake into 8 pieces, cut each piece in half and spread with jam, then make two halves into a sandwich. Arrange cake/jam squares in base of bowl to fit tightly. Cut any left over cake into smaller pieces and lay around sides of bowl.
2. Pour powdered gelatin into heat-proof 4-cup jug or bowl and carefully add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir well until gelatin is totally dissolved. Add strawberries/raspberries to hot gelatin. The juice from the fruit will make up the additional water normally added. Add the sherry or raspberry liqueur.
3. Gently but quickly pour gelatin and fruit over cake, ensuring every piece of cake is saturated by mix. Gently push cake down with spoon or fork so the cake at the edges of the bowl is even with cake in the center. Spread fruit out so that it is distributed evenly on top of the cake. Leave to set.
4. When the gelatin is set, make the custard: Heat the half-and-half in a small saucepan up to boiling point. While it’s heating, mix eggs, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla together in 4-cup heat-proof jug.
5. Pour hot milk onto egg mix, whisking the whole time, then pour back into pan, stirring the whole time. Heat over a very low heat, stirring constantly until sauce has thickened. This should only take a minute or two. If custard starts looking grainy, stir vigorously; the lumps should disappear. Stir in a pinch of fresh, ground nutmeg.
6. Pour over cake base, making sure that the gelatin is set first. Leave to set.
7. Whisk cream, sugar and vanilla together until stiff, and spread or pipe on top of custard once custard has cooled and set. Garnish with toasted almonds and/or chocolate. In England, it is also traditional to use Maraschino cherries as a garnish on the cream rosettes.
Tips & Alternatives:
I traditionally make this in an 8-cup decorative bowl. However, you can also make individual trifles by putting cake into decorative glasses of about 1 cup capacity and by adding all the ingredients in layers to the glasses. You must remember to push moistened cake down into individual glasses to make enough space for the rest of the ingredients.