When it comes to Christmas things can get a little fucking tense. Don’t get me started on the house to house shuffle or the menu planning or the Xmas present buying. It is not my favourite day of the year. I’m more into the lead up – crying when a b-grade celebrity sings Silent Night at the carols on TV, decorating the Xmas tree, getting funny photos taken with Santa, catching up with old friends and new friends – the festive spirit is lovely. It’s just Christmas Day which falls flat for me. It feels very forced. I do love the morning part though – the part where the kids get up at 4am scurrying around the dark house looking for the presents Santa’s left for them. I adore seeing their excited faces. The magic of it is the best. My only other favourite part is the Xmas trifle. Oh, and the glass of bubbles on the front porch at the end of the day, while the kids, all hyped up on sugar and excitement, play with their toys inside. The rest of Christmas Day is well, Christmas Day.
On the weekend I got the yearly text from Mum trying desperately to mix things up with the christmas trifle. I don’t blame her. It must be so boring for her to make the same dessert every year. She’s seen fabulous recipes for trifles with a modern twist and each time she raises the topic with me she gets a very spoilt brat curt response – NO. I love her Xmas trifle. I don’t ever want her to change it. Never ever. She can save her fancy pants trifle making for another day. Her trifle is what gets me through Christmas – I think about it for weeks in the lead up to Xmas. I used to take all the leftovers home with me when I was younger and lived out of home. I’d get stoned and eat the whole thing straight out of the bowl while watching bad daytime tv shows like Touched By An Angel and 7th Heaven. Those were the days. Now there are no leftovers because I stupidly let me husband and children have some and now they love it too. I have to fight them for it. I am a single child, from a single-parent household – I am not a good sharer.
I mentioned on Twitter my outrage at my Mum’s desire to use Italian Pandoro Cake instead shop bought sponge for the trifle this year and was met with much support. It seems I am not alone. There are others who think to mess with a winning, long-standing trifle recipe is just plain wrong. (Sorry, Mum I do love you). There seems to be a bit of disagreement over if it has to be a Coles or Woolies sponge and whether you should make your own custard or if Clarke’s or Birds is the best, but it’s pretty clear – when you grow up with one version then that should never be messed with – ever.
I’ll declare it now – my Mum’s trifle is the Perfect Xmas Trifle. This is her recipe (given to me via text message with a few edits from me).
Coles plain sponge or Italian sponge fingers (no Mum, it should be shop bought sponge) fit into the bottom of a largish bowl. I prefer glass and flat bottomed. Some people break the sponge into pieces and some line the side with sponge fingers (I said NO sponge fingers). I have done both (and we all know which one was best Mum). I mix two packets of port-wine jelly (I’d rather one port-jelly/one raspberry and NO BOOZE as I like to drink booze NOT eat it) and pop it in the fridge. Top sponge with fresh berries and drained, canned peaches (no other fruit is allowed ok and please pick out all the blueberries, I say with a smirk). Then pour the cooled, nearly set jelly over the top and put it in the fridge until the jelly sets. Overnight is good. Make custard from (must be Birds OK?!) custard powder, follow directions on the box. I usually place a strip of fresh lemon peel in the custard while it is cooking (WHAT, REALLY??). Let the custard cool and then pour over the trifle and put it back in the fridge for a couple of hours. Top with more fresh berries and some whipped fresh cream and sprinkle with some good dark chocolate (stuff that Mum, it should be Flake) or choc-dipped cherries (OK that’s sounding awesome) . And then give the entire bowl to Bianca (yes, you did write that Mum *coughs*).
Do you eat trifle at Xmas? How is yours made? Or is there something else you have every year that has to be done a certain way, like prawn cocktail or roast or pudding?
Ps: Thanks Mum
Oh you are killing me… that looks so good! I am an expat Aussie stuck in Canada and at the mercy of Canadian in-law family. Christmas dessert to them is (get this…) chocolate wafer cookies layered with Dream Whip and made in to “Chocolate Log”. Not even real cream (cries real tears). I tried making plum pud one year and no one but me ate it. So I had a whole pudding to myself with a bowl of custard and whipped cream. I think I was sick that year. Now I just skip dessert and put coffee in my Baileys. Oops, Baileys in my coffee.
I don’t even know what Dream Whip is… possibly a mix of semi-toxic petroleum by-product and my crushed and broken dreams, hence the name.
That is really sad. Not only the fact that they make you eat Dream Whip (barf), but the fact that they pair it with chocolate wafer cookies??!?!?
As a born and bred Canadian please allow me to apologize for the – I can only assume inedible – chocolate log. Please believe me when I tell you this is NOT typical Canadian Christmas fare. My mom and dad, for example, typically whip up an apple pie, a christmas pudding (drenched in liquor and set ablaze of course), and a cranberry pudding with some magical delicious (homemade) sauce. And yes there is always a big bowl of REAL WHIPPED CREAM to go with these treats.
I think you just need to keep trying with your in laws. They don’t live in Spryfield by any chance?
I love the sound of your mum’s trifle – I too loved my grandmother’s trifle, it sounds like your mum’s except grandma put sherry in hers – which I really like, I don’t mind eating booze. I try to make the trifle these days now that she is no longer with us, but somehow it’s just not as good as hers! I know what you mean about eating out of the bowl and 7th Heaven. Yes, those WERE the days.
Yes Christmas is about Trifle, and Mums trifle, and also Granny Davis’s was numo uno in my children. Its a pity they have both gone to heaven and making a bowl of trifle for one seems indulgent, but hey traditons have to be kept. Trifle was brought jam rolles sliced, tinned peaches, aeroplane jelly – port wine flavour of course, the best custard made with Bingo custard powder, and to top it all off Granny made mashmallow and we thought it bliss. Long live the trifle.