My Mum always made this trifle for special occasions when I was growing up. I just loved helping - especially with the cleaning of the bowls - and it definitely inspired me to be a chef. At Christmas I like to decorate the top with pomegranate seeds to ma


  • 100 ml ruby red port
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 vanilla pod (split in half and seeds scraped out)
  • 500 g bag frozen fruits of the forest
  • 200 g madeira cake (broken into pieces)
  • 300 ml double cream
  • for the custard:
  • 300 ml milk
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 1/2 vanilla pod (split in half and seeds scraped out)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 tblsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • for the spun sugar:
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 1 tblsp powdered glucose
  • fresh raspberries, toasted flaked almonds and fresh mint sprigs, to decorate


  • To make the custard, place the milk, cream and vanilla pod and seeds in a heavy-based pan over a gentle heat and cook until it nearly reaches the boil - but don’t allow to boil. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk together until pale and thickened.
  • Remove the milk and cream mixture from the heat and then slowly whisk it into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour back into the pan and place on a gentle heat. Cook, without allowing to boil, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, covering with a piece of clingfilm to prevent a skin forming on top.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the mulled fruit. Place the ruby red port in a large pan with the sugar, mixed spice and vanilla and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until syrupy, stirring occasionally. Stir in the frozen fruits of the forest and set aside until cooled, stirring occasionally. The fruits should defrost naturally in the hot syrup but still hold their shape.
  • Scoop the cooked fruits of the forest mixture out of the syrup with a slotted spoon and spoon into a 1.5-litre (2 1/2 pint) glass serving bowl or 6 individual Martini glasses. Arrange the Madeira cake on top and drizzle the fruit syrup over to soak. Spoon the cooled custard over to cover. Chill for 1 hour until the custard sets a little firmer or up to 24 hours is fine.
  • About half an hour before serving, place the sugar, glucose and 250ml (9fl oz) of water into a small, heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the mixture turns a golden caramel colour. The sugar syrup should have a thick honey consistency and should not be too runny. It will thicken a little as it cools, but if it gets too thick, simply heat again and it will quickly loosen.
  • Using a small, clean metal spoon and a knife-sharpening steel, dip the spoon into the caramel and lift it out again, then twist it around the steel to create some sugar curls, working very carefully as the caramel will be extremely hot. Remove the curls from the steel once they are cool and hardened.
  • When ready to serve, whip the cream in a bowl until you have achieved soft peaks and place spoonfuls on top of custard, then gently spread with a palette knife or back of a spoon to cover the custard completely.
  • Alternatively, pipe the cream on in small peaks. Arrange a few raspberries on top and sprinkle over the toasted flaked almonds. Decorate with mint sprigs and carefully arrange the spun sugar curls on top. Place straight on the table to serve.

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