One of my favourite English desserts which I enjoy making is a trifle. I like the fact that when it comes to making a trifle, one can play around with the ingredients and textures – adding a syllabub layer instead of whipped cream, using passion fruit pulp as a topping, layering in ginger cake and mango slices instead of trifle sponges and sliced banana . . .
The starting point for this particular trifle recipe came from seeing long, slender stems of beautiful, pale pink, forced rhubarb on sale at Andreas’s Chiswick-based cornucopia of a greengrocer’s shop and simply having to buy some. Inspiration came from an earlier Twitter mention from Sarah Moore of how she had made rhubarb and custard ice cream. I’d promised to bring the dessert for my book group and wanted to use my lovely rhubarb. This Rhubarb & Rose Custard Trifle was the result. And I can report back that it went down extremely well with my book group . . .
Rhubarb & Rose Custard Trifle
400g rhubarb stalks, trimmed of any leaves and cut into approx 4cm pieces
Juice of 1 orange
2-3 cardamom pods
Sugar, to taste
2 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
40g plain flour, sifted
½ tsp good quality rose water
3-4 trifle sponges
3-4 tbsp rose, raspberry or strawberry jam
2-3 tbsp dessert wine
300ml double cream
Crystallised rose petals, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the rhubarb in a layer in a heatproof dish, pour over the orange juice, scatter over the cardamom pods, sprinkle with sugar to taste, cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes until tender, but still retaining its shape. Remove and set aside to cool.
To make the pastry cream, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale yellow and thickened. Whisk in the sifted flour. Heat the milk to boiling point. Whisking as you do so, gradually add in the hot milk to the yolk mixture, mixing well. Place the egg yolk mixture in a thick-based saucepan and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, bring to the boil. As the mixture thickens, continue stirring vigorously so as to prevent any lumps forming. Once thickened, add in the rose water and mix in well. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Once the rhubarb and pastry custard are cool, assemble the trifle. Slice each trifle sponge in half lengthways, spread one half of each trifle sponge with rose jam and sandwich with the remaining trifle sponge half. Place these in the bottom of a deep serving dish and pour over the dessert wine.
Layer over the baked rhubarb, adding some of the rhubarb juices. Spread the custard over the rhubarb in a smooth layer.
Whip the cream until fluffy and spread this gently and evenly over the custard layer. Cover and chill until serving. Decorate the cream topping with crystallised rose petals just before serving.