12 Days of Christmas Baking - Strawberry trifle


Edwena Mitchell has been catering events across the Central West of NSW for almost 20 years. She is able to produce beautiful three course dinners for hundreds in the middle of a paddock or nibbles for 600 without skipping a beat. This is one seriously unflappable country cook.

From their property just out of Cudal, she and her husband Mitch and son Edward also run a  farming operation and the day we visited, were watching grimly as a summer storm descended. The family were in the middle of harvest and it happened to be one of the very few days of the year that rain wasn’t welcome. I arrived with Tom who’s tractor honing instinct took him directly to the John Deere header and Alice who seated herself at the bench in Edwena’s enormous kitchen for a bowl of creme patisserie. While we chatted, Edwena pulled together the below trifle and it was just beautiful.

Easy Summer Trifle

Serves approximately 12 people

1kg Strawberries, (I sourced mine from the nearby Borenore Berry Farm)
1 litre port wine jelly (2 packets – follow directions on pack)
1 cake, either a bought double unfilled sponge or hazelnut & almond cake (recipe below)
1 litre custard or crème patisserie (recipe below)
Whipped cream and toasted flaked almonds to finish

Layer pieces of cake, spoonfuls of jelly and halved or quartered strawberries and pour some crème patisserie over the layer. Continue the layers, then to finish, whip some cream, spread on the top and sprinkle some toasted flaked almonds or Hazelnut crumbs over the cream.

Hazelnut & Almond Cake

250gm butter
300gm sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 large eggs
½ cup cornflour
400gm ground hazelnuts (or almonds)½ teaspoon carb soda

Preheat oven to 170C. Cream butter and sugar very well, adding vanilla essence. Add eggs and continue beating until mixed. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients very well together, add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Line the bottom of a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper, brush the sides with olive oil or butter and dust with cornflour. Pour mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 30 minutes – or until cake tests cooked with skewer.

Crème Patisserie

1 litre cream
200gm sugar
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
  or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 large eggs
4 egg yolks
2 tabs Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional)

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla pod to cream and heat till hot but DO NOT BOIL. Put eggs into bowl and whip well, pour a little of the hot cream over the eggs, whisking continuously. Pour egg mixture back into hot cream – whisking continuously, change to a wooden spoon and reduce heat of stove to low, stirring continuously until crème has thickened. Strain through fine sieve, place glad wrap directly onto cream surface (stops a skin forming) and cool.

Edwena's notes;
  • The elements of the trifle can be made a day or two ahead, but the Trifle itself should be made at the last minute!! 
  • Bought sponge cake becomes soggy very quickly – and can be nearly “lost”. A much better result is achieved with the more dense (and in this instance gluten free) almond & hazelnut cake. 
  • Mixed berries are great with this – blackberries, blueberries, raspberries – and if you can find them, gooseberries are amazing. 
  • Sherry, port or brandy can also be sprinkled over the layers – but be careful if serving children or teenage drivers!!


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