If you are in need of an elegant dessert recipe that is not hard to make, a trifle may be exactly what you are looking for. A simple version of the dish we know today dates from the late 16th century in England. There are many modern versions of it, including renditions by Italy and France. A large clear bowl is typically used to make and present trifle in, to enjoy its multiple layers.
If you have a knife block set, you probably already have one of the utensils you will need, which is a sharp bread knife. Other types of knives may be used also, as long as they are suitable for slicing soft cake into pieces. Of course, you will also need a large cutting board on which to do the slicing.
Both the ingredients and the amounts of them in a trifle are not critical, and may change according to your preference and what you have to work with. To begin with, you will need cake of some type, such as sponge cake, pound cake, sweet muffins, cupcakes or ladyfingers. Whatever you use, cut it into cubes of approximately 2 inches, or slice it thinly. Then coat the pieces with jam of your preference, and put a layer of them in the bottom of the dish you will be serving the trifle from.
The next step is to sprinkle the pieces of cake with a liquid of your choice, which can be a liqueur, sherry or port wine, liquor or fruit juice if you prefer a non-alcoholic trifle. On top of the cake layer make a layer of custard or pudding, either vanilla or another flavor, such as chocolate, mocha, peanut butter or anything you like. The variations depend only on your preference and what goes along with the other ingredients you have chosen to use.
The layers of cake and custard should be repeated. You may also wish to include layers of sliced fruit in between the cake and custard, and a good paring knife will be handy for the fruit preparation. A Wusthof knife set or similar quality brand generally will include at least one paring knife which will be perfect for the job.
The last layer of a trifle is usually whipped cream. Whipping cream properly entails having both the cream and the bowl it is in chilled very well. Beat the cream at high speed until it thickens and retains its shape. A Kitchen Aid hand mixer is a good choice for this job as it is lightweight but powerful. While beating the cream, you may sweeten it and add other flavoring if you like. Avoid beating it too much, though, as you run the risk of turning it into butter.
Spread the whipped cream on top of the trifle layers, covering them completely to the edge of the bowl. Garnishes may be used on top of the whipped cream layer, such as coconut, sliced fruit, chopped nuts, shavings of chocolate, or whatever you prefer. The trifle should then be refrigerated several hours, or overnight, to blend the flavors and textures. The final step is to serve the trifle, and enjoy your beautiful but easy dessert.