Summer's been hit miss weather wise to say the least, but that's the British weather for you and on the plus side, if it were sunny all the time we'd never get the chance to breathe in the lovely smell of the summer rain, and I can never really say I dislike sitting out in the garden with a glass of red whilst wearing a jumper and thick socks on a July summer evening. We just have to make the best of it.
Have you had many picnics this year? I've managed a few impromptu ones but any that have been planned have mainly been called off or re-worked thanks to a glance up at threatening clouds. The fun of carpet picnics and indoor buffets whilst watching the rain fall outside should never be underestimated though!
Waitrose got in touch with me to ask if I'd like to take part in a challenge to recreate a traditional British dish for their Garden Party Inspiration page. The brief was make something that would be perfect to eat alfresco with friends.
So what's a traditional British dish then? Well I'd made homemade scotch eggs recently so considered blogging about those, but then I watched one of these programmes where people create their own menu for a party and just about everyone mocked the fact that the pudding was a sherry trifle! Now I love trifle, so I never get why people knock it....
It's something that reminds me of Boxing Day evenings as a child (and then breakfast the next morning!) Now the trifle of my childhood comes out of a packet and I confess I had never made a trifle that didn't come out of a box ..... until now. However, it was so easy!
A quick google for recipes and you'll find hundreds of variations but I decided that if anyone would have a foolproof recipe it would be Delia. I have never ever made homemade custard before, but now I have, I can't believe how easy and quick it was -seriously if you're making your custard with a powder, making it from scratch takes about the same time and tastes so much better.
8 oz (225 g) fresh raspberries (I used frozen)
2-3 tablespoons raspberry conserve (I used a normal jam)
5 trifle sponges
5 fl oz (150 ml) Madeira (I used sherry)
For the custard:
1 vanilla pod (I used vanilla extract)
10 fl oz (275 ml) double cream (I used a light version)
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 oz (25 g) golden caster sugar
For the topping:
2 oz (50 g) flaked almonds (I bought these already toasted)
10 fl oz (275 ml) double cream
You will also need a 3-pint (1.75-litre) glass serving bowl.
This recipe is from Delia Online
Split the trifle sponges in half lengthways, turning them on their sides and cutting through, then spread each half jam, sandwich them together again and cut each one into three.
Next, arrange the pieces in the base of the bowl and pour sprinkle thee sherry over them. The recipe says 150mls and this will be enough.... I used about 200 ml (typical me!) and it was quite strong!! Leave it now for about half an hour so the sponges can absorb the sherry
To make the custard, pour the cream into a saucepan. Add a couple of splashes of vanilla extract (or scrape the vanilla pod seeds if using) Blend the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a basin, when the cream is hot, pour it over the egg mixture, whisking the whole time to stop it going lumpy. Return the custard to the saucepan and stir over a very low heat until thick, them remove it and allow to cool. Take out the vanilla pod if you've used one.
Add the raspberries on top of the sponges.Then whip the double cream with an electric hand whisk until it is firm but still floppy. Pour the custard over, then spread the cream over the top and scatter with the nuts. Cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge till needed.
And here I am looking pleased with myself. I made everything up to the topping point before I hit the beach to run around on a photoshoot - knowing that I was coming home to some homemade trifle was very good for the soul I have to say!
I like to serve puds in teacups, not only do they look pretty put the handles make them a really practical way to eat when you're standing up at parties, events etc.
Alternatively make it up in jars - good for picnics and events. Serve it in a bowl or eat straight from the jar.
Sherry trifle from jars is definitely going on to my signature summer dish menu.
Waitrose have an entire section on their website to inspire you throughout the rest of summer and September looks set to be gloriously sunny. For more recipe ideas, garden decor, fun garden party inspiration and music suggestions (although if you're as generous with the sherry as I was, you may have at least one guest decide they are a song bird....) pop on over to the Great British Garden inspiration page.
Of course the good thing about dining out in your garden is that it's really quick and easy to bring the party indoors if the heavens do decide to open!
Written in collaboration with Waitrose.
Ingredients for this post were ordered online from Waitrose by me but paid for with vouchers given to me by Waitrose.