trifle (trahy-fuhl; try-full) noun
An English dessert typically comprised of layers of cake sprinkled with alcohol (often sherry, white wine, brandy or a liqueur), pastry cream (or custard), whipped cream and jam, jelly or fresh fruit. The individual ingredients are layered separately on top of one another in a trifle bowl so that you can see each item. The image above is of our Gingerbread Trifle.
Italian cuisine has a similar dessert called zuppa Inglese (English soup), and the English trifle is also somewhat related to the Spanish bizcocho boracho. In England, this dessert is sometimes called tipsy cake, tipsy pudding, tipsy parson or a few other derivations.1 The dessert has remained popular due to its decadent flavor, but also because it is a great way to use cake that might be stale. Some recipes suggest even using older cake, biscuits or some other base along with the alcohol, custard and fruit.2
It is easy to create a trifle without a recipe. Review our Tip, How to Make a Trifle.
- Fare of the Country: English Trifle – Serious Dessert
- Paston-Williams, Sara. Traditional Puddings, The National Trust 2002.
Image: Sam Jackson