February Recipe: Rhubarb and Vanilla Trifle

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it is a little bit different from ordinary trifles. Do use full fat milk when making the custard for this trifle.  If you want to cut back on the fat content you can always put natural yoghurt on the top instead of double cream.  In fact I use natural yoghurt a lot in place of cream, such as on my pavolas which are very sweet in any case.  I think you could use an alternative to strawberry jam if you have other jams in stock, although strawberries and rhubarb go surprisingly well.  I think marmalade would also work as rhubarb and orange is a good combination.

Do not let the milk boil when making the custard.  If you do not have vanilla pods, which are quite expensive to buy, you could use vanilla essence (1 teaspoon).  However, once you have used your vanilla pod (should you do so) it can be put in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar.

Serves 6

  • 400g. / 14ozs. rhubard, trimmed and cut into 2cm. / ¾ inch lengths
  • 100g. / 3 ½ ozs. caster sugar
  • 5 – 6 trifle sponges
  • 2 tbsps. sherry
  • 115g. / 4ozs. strawberry jam
  • 200mls. / 7fl. ozs. double cream
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped pistachios, if liked


  • 1 vanilla pod, slit
  • 425mls. / 15fl. ozs. full-cream milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g. / 2ozs. icing sugar
  • 50g. / 2ozs. plain flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas Mark 5. Arrange the rhubarb on the base of a shallow baking dish, scatter over the sugar, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Leave to cool.
  2. For the custard, open out the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds using a small sharp knife and, in a small pan, blend these with a little of the milk. Add the rest of the milk and the pod, bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
  3. Arrange the sponges on the base of a 20cm. / 7.5cm. / 8in. x 3in. deep trifle dish. Spoon the rhubarb on top, measure out 50mls. / 2fl. ozs. of the remaining juices, add the sherry and pour on top.
  4. To finish making the custard, whisk the egg yolks and icing sugar in a bowl until pale in colour. Now whisk in the flour in three stages. Bring the milk back to the boil, discard the vanilla pod, then gradually whisk the milk into the egg and sugar mixture – it should thicken instantly. Return the custard to the pan and cook over the very lowest heat, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes until it is very thick – don’t allow to boil.
  5. Pass the custard through a sieve over the fruit and sponges, smoothing it with a spoon. Cover the surface with clingfilm and leave to cool and set.
  6. Place the jam in a bowl and work it with a spoon until it is smooth, then spread it over the custard. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and smooth over the jam, scatter over the pistachios. Cover and chill – it will keep for up to two days.
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