About a week ago I succumbed to popping into one of our Cullompton charity shops as I walked home at lunchtime and found, to my utter delight, that one of their shelves was groaning under the weight of an array of moulded glass items, from little lidded pots and dainty perfume bottles with cut glass stoppers, to a huge fluted bowl. I got a bit over-excited and decided I needed these three items and took them to the counter, where they gave me a discount for buying lots in one go, which is rare in a charity shop these days but very much appreciated. The little glass perfume bottle was an instant present for our friends Helen and Mike who have just redecorated their bathroom in an elegant Victorian theme, and I thought this would sit happily on their windowsill. The small, lidded pot is yet to find its use, but the large bowl promised to be helpful for all manner of things and seemed ideal for a trifle. I did not already possess any vessel suitable for containing such a pudding, having never set about making a trifle before. Which, actually, is very witless of me because I adore trifle. My Mum makes a stonking Mocha Trifle, which I have now determined to make.
So after having read about Bad Harry's Birthday Trifle, I was very pleased to make it myself, on the very weekend that we had a long-standing appointment for afternoon tea with our lovely friends the Nichols family. I phoned first to check that the trifle would be welcomed and heard a joyous little squeal from Claire, who said she loves trifle but only makes it on her birthday as the rest of the family don't really like it.
That same evening, which was a Saturday, I got myself a head start so that the jelly would be set in time for the following afternoon. I used almost two packs of trifle sponges, instead of one, as it is a large bow and I wanted it to end up full to the brim. I soaked it in the lovely tangy raspberry syrup from the two tins of raspberries and made up the raspberry jelly to pour over it all, after the pulpy raspberries themselves. Then I fridged it, hoping the jelly would set nicely despite how much the sponges were already soaked.
The next day I was relieved to find that all was well with the trifle and made some custard on the hob. We always have packets of instant custard (just add hot water) in the dresser AT ALL TIMES because you don't ever want to be stranded with no custard, but it's not quite the same as when you make it from the normal powder. I LOVE custard, and always feel that trifles could do with bit more of it, so I made a double portion, and made it a little thicker than the packet's advice as I wanted it to be nicely set. I didn't double the amount of cream because although I find it delicious, I also find it easily makes me queasy so my ammended proportions allowed for that.
Once the cream was spread relatively evenly, I placed the Jelly Babies on top. Bad Harry's trifle had lots of red, green and yellow sweeties on, so the Jelly Babies seemed like a faithful choice. I then sprinkled on the finishing touches of silver balls and Hundreds and Thousands. Again, this was only in order to be true to the My Naughty Little Sister experience because otherwise why would you put something tiny and hard on top of smooth cream, only to have it jar against your tooth as you devour it? If I made it again, I would do everything exactly the same except for the topping. I would like plenty of fresh raspberries and a dusting of flaked chocolate ideally.
Eventually, after a few alarming gear changes and twists in the road, we (and the trifle) arrived at the Nichols household and settled in for a very nourishingly friendly time with them all. Claire was a fan of my glass bowl and showed me her collection of lovely glass vases and sweetie dishes. At teatime we all sat around to a wonderful high tea of Claire's homemade bread rolls, scones, Victoria sponge and my new favourite Apricot jam puffs.
The boys, Simon and James, had long awaited the trifle during the meal and tucked in with gusto. The trifle refusers, Matthew and Ruth enjoyed their portion of Jelly Babies and I loved my very custardy pudding. The serving spoons were cleaned very thoroughly by the boys at the end of the meal, and I filled a Pirex bowl with as much trifle as I could, to leave for Claire and the boys to eat on another day. Simon and James were most intrigued as to what I would do with the rest of the trifle, as was I, as there was still well over half of it left.
Fortunately, a friend who needed to come around to borrow our maps of the Lake District the next day ended up having dinner with us so she was able to assist a little with the epic leftovers.
It turned out that the lady stranger in the street wasn't the only person I didn't know who was delighted by this big, colourful trifle. When we got home from the Nichols' house and I turned my phone on I found that lovely Claire had chosen the photo of me and my trifle as her photo of the day (365 photo challenge on facebook) and that a host of her friends had typed a flurry of delightful Oohing and Aahhing comments beneath it. It was fun to see how many people love trifle and who were excited by the Jelly Babies and the immensity of the trifle. I've added the string of comments here, as they were such a fun little encouragement at the end of a lovely day.
I'm glad to say that I was wise enough not to indulge in seconds and was just comfortably full, which is more than can be said for Bad Harry and My Naughtly Little Sister who ate so much in one go that they were very sick and never liked trifle again after that day. .