Lemon trifles


I’ve always been a fan of anything lemon-flavoured, but I seem to have been going overboard lately. Every time I go to the supermarket they have piles of lovely firm untreated lemons, and I can’t resist them.

This originated as a recipe in Sainsbury’s magazine. Having just made some limoncello I had to try it. An additional motive was the hope of finding a form of jelly I can serve to French people without them going “eeeeew! Jelly!!” (le jelly invariably comes up immediately after “they boil everything to death” when you ask French people what they think of British food).

I think I have a winner here, the jelly cunningly concealed under layers of lemony custard and syllabub, the whole intensely lemony. The original recipe suggests folding broken-up bought meringues into the cream topping. Yes, it does need something crunchy, but I think meringues are the wrong thing. When you’ve made the custard, you will have five egg whites left over; use them to make tuiles to serve with the trifles. They look very pretty served in individual glasses; this makes 6 200 ml trifles.

It might look like a faff, but you can/must make the jelly and custard the day before serving (and the tuiles if making), and then assemble everything up to a couple of hours before the meal. The syllabub topping is better if left to stand for a couple of hours for the flavour to mature.

50 g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 sheets gelatine

5 large egg yolks
60 g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
300 ml single cream

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
55 ml limoncello
50 g caster sugar
250 ml double cream
Candied lemon peel (optional)

Note: gelatine leaves are far easier to use than powder, with zero risk of lumps.

Make the jelly the day before: put the gelatine to soak in cold water, and bring 300 ml water to the boil with the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the hot mixture, stirring to dissolve. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then strain into 6 serving glasses. Put in the fridge to set.

Make the custard: in a bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, and cornflour. Bring the lemon juice and zest to the boil, add the cream, and bring back to the boil; the lemon juice will thicken the cream, but don’t worry about this. Pour onto the eggs, stirring, and then return the whole lot to the pan over a low heat and stir constantly until it thickens, without letting it boil. As soon as it thoroughly coats the back of a spoon, remove from the heat, whisk it vigorously to stop any further cooking, then pour into a bowl and cover with clingfilm or buttered paper to stop a skin forming. Refrigerate.

To assemble, spoon the custard on top of the jelly and smooth the surface. Make the syllabub: whisk the lemon juice, sugar, zest and limoncello together in a bowl. Pour in the cream and whisk with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks. Spoon it onto the trifles, swirling the top with a spoon. Decorate with candied lemon peel or anything else you fancy except for bright red glace cherries and bright green angelica. Serve with tuiles or other crisp biscuits.


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