Sunday, April 23, 2006
what's for pud? : tipsy cake
When I first saw that Sam from Becks and Posh and Monkey Gland from Jam Faced was hosting “What’s for Pud?”, I was intrigued. Their directions were clear and simple, make an English dessert: “English not British. No Irish, Scottish or Welsh delicacies today, thank you.” I’ve sampled a few English desserts, partly because I did my Master’s degree in London a few years back. During that time, I did what any student would do: workout, eat, text message friends, shop, drink at cafes, eat, go clubbing, sleep and try to study before class. With this post, I was flooded with fantastic memories of shopping in the food sections at Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, Blue Bird, and all the wonderful markets in London. I fortunately had a chance to eat and sample some really amazing food and dessert there.
So, when I decided to make trifle, I wanted to make one that was reminiscent of the classic “English” version. Here is what the Larousse Gastronomique tells us about trifle:
“A favourite English dessert – despite its name meaning ‘of no account’ – eaten on festive occasions. Also called tipsy cake, it is usually made of sherry-soaked sponge cake with custard and often jam, decorated with cream and sometimes fruit; however, recipes go back to the 16th century with many variations…”
I believe that this dessert is popular for a number of reasons. It’s simple (traditionally using left-overs). It contains delicious ingredients like whipped cream, pastry cream, macerated fruit, and alcohol-soaked cake (the English like their alcohol). Finally, all of this is combined to make a muddle of tasty goodness. After flipping through many of my cooking and pastry books, I chose two or three recipes that jumped out at me. I then amalgamated recipes to create a contemporary English trifle. The version that I made uses Nigella Lawson’s Madeira cake, Grand Marnier, raspberries, strawberries, my favourite pastry cream from Michel Bras, whipped cream and finally is topped with chocolate and pistachios. If you are bringing this to a party or event, trifle looks magical in a glass bowl. However, if you are serving this at a dinner party, I suggest using small glasses or cups as it will look beautiful and be easy to serve.
240g softened unsalted butter
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
10g baking powder
Butter and line a loaf tin (23 x13 x 7 cm) or circular cake pan (20 x 20 cm)
1. Cream butter and sugar together and add lemon zest.
2. Add one egg at a time and mix until combined.
3. Add flour and mix, then add lemon juice until just combined.
4. Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.
*Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess
vanilla pastry cream
1 vanilla bean (spit lengthwise as scraped)
250 ml whole milk
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1. In a small pot add milk and the vanilla bean seeds and pod. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let the vanilla infuse in the milk for five minutes.
2. In a small bowl mix the egg, egg yolk and sugar together. Mix until it turns pale. Then whisk in the cornstarch and mix thoroughly.
3. Temper the egg mixture with a small amount of the milk mixture.
4. Once tempered, add the rest of the egg mixture to the milk mixture.
5. Put the mixture back onto the stove and bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly with the whisk. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower heat and cook until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.
6. Once the mixture is done, pass it through a fine sieve into a shallow container. Immediately cover the pastry with plastic wrap directly over the pastry cream. This is done to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the pastry cream.
7. Refrigerate until completely cool.
* From The Notebooks of Michel Bras: Desserts
alcohol: Sherry, Madeira wine, Port, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
raspberries, strawberries and other fruits
chopped or sliced nuts: almonds, pistachios, etc.
English trifle assembly:
1. Cut Madeira cake into slices or cubes and place in small bowls or a large glass bowl.
2. Drench the Madeira cake with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of your chosen liquor.
3. Mash some of the raspberries and strawberries and mix with whole berries, spoon overtop of the drenched Madeira cake.
4. Mix pastry cream and pour over top of the berry compote.
5. Whip some cream and dollop or pipe over top of the pastry cream.
6. Let the flavours of the liquor, berries, pastry cream and cream soak into the cake and each other. Let the trifle rest in the refrigerator overnight or for 4-6 hours.
7. Top with nuts, chocolate or other condiments.
8. Spoon the trifle out and eat!