This was my submission to the Platinum Pudding Competition:
Her Majesty is said to enjoy a particular cocktail now and again, made using a gently spiced, fortified red wine as the base. Evoking flavours of blackcurrant, citrus and a hint of spice, this fortified wine serves as the inspiration for a truly celebratory pudding to honour the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. And while this pudding cannot claim to be quick to cook, the time you spend gloriously preparing each element and ceremoniously assembling afterwards is nothing in comparison to the 70 years of duty and service we are set to celebrate.
For the sponge:
75g plain flour
150g self-raising flour
6 large eggs
220g caster sugar
Tip: If you can’t find self-raising flour, you can make your own by adding 2 tsp baking powder for every 1 cup of plain flour. Sift through several times to combine, then weigh out as directed.
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
100g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten
600ml double cream
6 large egg yolks
35g caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour
2 tsp vanilla extract
Prepared sponge cake (just one sponge from the recipe)
Prepared lemon curd
200g blackcurrant jam
Zest of 1 lemon
150ml Dubonnet (sweet, fortified red wine)
300ml double cream
150g blackberries (approx. – to decorate)
Icing sugar (to decorate)
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C Fan / 350F.
- Boil a kettle.
- Lightly grease two 8-inch sandwich tins, line the bottoms with baking paper, then grease the baking paper again. Dust each tin with flour, tapping out any excess.
Sift the flours together twice, to ensure they are well mixed and lightened.
In a stand-mixer or a large bowl with an electric whisk, beat the eggs until they are pale and thick (5 – 7 minutes). Then slowly add the sugar, beating well between each addition. Turn off the whisk and add the sifted flours all at once, along with 2 tbsp boiling water. Use a large metal spoon to quickly but gently fold the flour and water into the mixture.
Tip: Using a large metal spoon to fold in the flour and water helps ensure the batter keeps its air bubbles, resulting in a light and fluffy cake. Avoid beating in the flour with a whisk or wooden spoon, which will deflate the air bubbles you worked to create.
Transfer the batter evenly between the prepared sandwich tins, then gently transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden all over.
Let the sponges cool in their tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This trifle requires just one of the two sponges: wrap one in cling film and keep at room temperature until needed for the assembly; wrap the other sponge in cling film and freeze for a future trifle.
For the lemon curd:
Place a saucepan with an inch or so of water over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. To a heatproof bowl, add the lemon zest and juice, butter and sugar. Place the bowl over the saucepan (ensuring the water does not touch the bowl) and stir now and again with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat together. When the butter has melted, add the beaten eggs to the bowl, whisking constantly. Continue with the whisk but reduce the intensity a little; you’re basically stirring with a whisk at this point. Continue with the gentle whisking until the curd has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). Pass the lemon curd though a fine sieve and into a small bowl, then place a layer of cling film on top, pressing the cling right onto the surface. Let cool a little, then refrigerate until needed.
For the custard:
Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat gently until just below simmering point.
Meanwhile, add the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour to a bowl and whisk to combine. When the cream is hot, slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and cook over a medium-low heat, stirring often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (If you feel the custard catching at the bottom during cooking, remove the pan from the heat for 10 seconds or so, stirring often. Return to the heat and proceed.)
When the custard has thickened, pass it through a fine sieve and into a bowl or jug. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place a piece of cling film over the top of the custard, pressing right onto the surface. Refrigerate until needed.
Tip: Refrigerate the custard for 1 – 2 hours only before assembling to ensure the custard will pour evenly (this helps avoid air bubbles in the trifle, and to achieve that lovely smooth surface). Custard will firm up as the assembled trifle refrigerates.
For the assembly:
Remove the lemon curd from the fridge approximately 1 hour before assembly to ensure it is pliable enough to spread out. Make sure there is enough space in your fridge to accommodate the trifle bowl.
To a saucepan, add 2 tbsp of the blackcurrant jam, the lemon zest, 400g of the blackberries and the Dubonnet. Warm gently, but don’t let it boil. Once warm, mash the fruit slightly (it may be easier to use a potato masher for this), leaving some fruit whole while others crushed into a pulp. Leave to one side and let cool slightly.
Cut the sponge in half around the equator, then slice into 1.5-inch slices. Use the remaining jam to create long sandwiches, then cut each sandwich into four (to create rough squares). Place the sandwiched sponge into the bottom of the trifle dish, squeezing as many as you can in, to create an even layer. Spoon the warmed, slightly-mashed fruit into an even layer across the sponge, then spoon in the juice from the pan. Leave to soak in for about 10 minutes before proceeding.
After the sponge has had its soaking time, spoon in the softened lemon curd and spread out into an even layer, right to the edges. Try to avoid mixing with the purple below, if possible, but a little bit doesn’t matter. Next is the custard layer. Pour in the custard over the back of a spoon to avoid dislodging the curd and fruit below. Now is the time to give the sides of the bowl a wipe-down if you have any smears. Next, place a layer of cling film right on the surface of the custard, then transfer the magnificent creature to the fridge and leave until needed, at least 6 hours.
Remove the trifle from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. Whip the cream to somewhere between soft peaks and stiff peaks – you want it soft and dreamy, but strong enough to hold the weight of the berries. Pile the cream in the middle of the trifle, using a spoon to create little waves and crests. Leave a border so the cream doesn’t go all the way to the edges – you want to see the beautiful custard underneath. Pile the blackberries in the centre and sift over the scantest dusting of icing sugar to decorate. Allow everyone the opportunity to admire the finished product before scooping into bowls to serve.