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A Trifling Time

emerald isle trifle

A Trifling Time

Week 4 of our epic bake-along with the Great British Bake Off has us tackling Dessert week. Our artistic licence platinum membership cards out again in full force, we brazenly took the theme and applied liberal lashing of cream and custard to create a twist on the very traditional mountain of goodness, trifle.

Granted, traditionally a bong it all together and cool in the fridge number, this classic isn’t normally associated with baking. But we felt somehow it could be justified as a) It is a desert b) We thought of countless ways to put a St Helenian twist on it and c) Everyone loves a trifle.

We decided on five layers for our aptly named Emerald Isle Trifle, which we affectionately started calling ‘the beast’ once we realised how many separate steps was needed to create this beauty. Two jellied fruit layers, a cake and custard layer and of course the must have cream layer to top it all off.  Each layer working together to create a overall view of St Helena as told through the medium of fruits associated with the Island.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery they say, so because of the complexity of the dish we opted for a few cheats this week to make sure our vision could be created on time.  Home cooking after all is often about pulling a great dish out of nowhere and was probably how the instant trifle same into being in the first place.

Making our own flavoured jellies and custard from scratch seemed a bit of a push for these home cooks so for those layers we raided the store cupboard and used packet flavoured jellies and the childhood staple Birds instant custard.   That aside we pondered long and hard about what fruits each layer would encompass and of course made our own cake layer.

Drooling bibs at the ready here’s what we created.

Layer one was fresh mangos set in a mango jelly to represent the ocean. Next came the ‘foliage layer’ made up of slices of Guava lightly poached in sugar and “tungi fruit” (or prickly pear as it’s commonly name) set inside a green banana jelly. Layer three was a baking triumph in the form of a homemade banana loaf with fresh banana slices set into the mix to create a striped pattern. The cake was then cut into a silhouette of the Island with the sliced banana representing the cliff face in our wrap around layer four, the custard. The trifle was then topped with a sky of sweetened double cream that was flavoured with desiccated coconut coconut and decorated with birds in flight cut from figs.

It might not have been our most technically challenging bake to date. Nor was it the most refined creation we have ever made. Tedious, and time consuming, yes but oh so worth it for one tasty trifling time.

Check out our video of the recipe.  That noise you can hear in the background is our biggest fan cheering us along.


Here’s how you make it:

Step 1 — Fruit and Jelly

Slice your fruit, we used mango’s, Prickly Pear and Guava but of course, you can use any fruit you like. Think of how the fruit will look in your trifle bowl and cut your fruit in shapes that will create interesting designs.

Following the packaging instructions, prepare your first jelly by melting the jelly crystals in boiling water. Add your first section of fruit to the trifle bowl, add the liquid jelly and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge to set as per the manufacturers instructions. Once the first layer is set you can repeat the process for your second layer of jelly and fruit. Our first layer was Mango sliced and set in Mango flavoured Jelly and our second was the prickly pear fruit and Guava’s arranged in a pattern and covered in green banana flavoured jelly.

Step 2 — Cake and Custard


2 or 3 ripe bananas (plus 3 bananas sliced for decoration)

113g butter

113g caster sugar

2 eggs beaten

225g self-raising flour

  1. Mash the bananas.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs followed by the bananas.
  3. Sift the flour into the banana mixture and combine all ingredients.
  4. On a lined baking tray position your sliced banana slices and cover with the mixture. (Or alternatively if making a traditional shape, turn out into a lined baking tray greased 6 x 8 inch cake tin).
  5. Bake in a moderate oven 200c/400f/gas 6 for 20 minutes is creating a flat tray bake tt 40 to 45 minutes if making a traditional round or loaf cake.
  6. Cool on the cooling rack and cut into your desired shape

Once your cake has cooled it can be cut into a wrap-around shape for the bowl. Or alternately if just making a traditional cake shape, cut into generous chunks of cake to create a layer of texture in the dish.

With the cake in place in the trifle bowl, you can now mix your custard using the packaging instructions and add to your trifle bowl.

Step 3 — The Cream

Whip 1 large tub of double cream and 50g of caster sugar using an electric hand whisk until thick but still spreadable. Fold in 100g of desiccated coconut. Spread your coconut cream mix on top of the trifle and decorate with fruit (we used sliced figs) but you can use any fruit, toasted nuts or other decoration of your choice.

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