How do you make unpleasant traditions awesome? The addition of Beer, of course.


Mom always made trifle at Christmas. As a child I loathed soaked bread and strong alcohol, so I never looked forward to it.

When I informed people in these parts that I was going to continue the tradition this year because whythefucknot, the reaction from people was not what I’d expected.

Trifle evolved to what it roughly is now in the 17th Century, soaked cake with custard.  A hundred years later jelly was added, an ingredient I had never found in trifle back home.

But why the sad faces, guys?

Because its gross and no one likes it I learned when the mere mention of trifle made people laugh or reminisce about how awful it is.

Traditionally, trifle has sweet wine or sherry soaked cake. The first thing that came to mind when I found out no one like trifle was that sherry must be the culprit, since to my knowledge only old ladies like sherry.

As pastry and challenges are two of my favourite things, I thought, Fuck ‘Em. Immagonna make the best trifle ever.  And what do the British love most of all?


I did have extreme doubts that this would be gross. I was very afraid to try it. But it may be one of the best things I have ever made. The process is long, none of you will ever make this I’m sure, but it was so delicious I had to send it out into the world.  And besides, it makes me think of stripey Christmas socks. How festive!

Here we go:

Orange Porter Trifle (what you’ll need, recipes to follow)

A large bowl, 4 liters, or like 8-10 glasses.

Darina Allen’s Irish Porter Cake or any cake that will be made better by adding beer (ie. nasty fruit cake your grandma brought over) — Sliced into 1/4 inch sliced, maybe 1 1/2in by 2 1/2in. Or whatever, figure it out. You’re a grown up, I can’t hold your hand over the interwebs.

Orange Curd

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Seedless Raspberry Jam

Stout Jelly

Cointreau for soaking

1 Orange

300 ml Whipped Cream, slightly sweetened.


Irish Porter Cake

If I ever learn under Darina Allen at her school in Ireland, I will crap my pants with joy. This cake is strangely delicious on its own, but it is inherently dry and heavy with fruits, so the density lends itself to soaking.

112g Butter

112g Caster sugar

150ml Stout

Orange zest

112g Sultanas

112g Raisins

55g mixed peel (I used my own glace mix but you can buy this)

225g White flour

1/2 tbsp Baking Soda

2 tsp mixed spice (honestly, I just throw in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice without measuring)

3 Eggs

Line a 6” round tin with parchment. Preheat oven to 350/180.

Melt butter, sugar, and butter, then add fruit and bring to the boil for 3-4 min, stirring all the while. Let cool to room temp.

Whisk dry bits together. Add fruit mixture, then add eggs. Don’t overmix.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. If eating as is, pour added stout over it when it comes out of the oven (I didn’t find the 1/4cup suggested was enough). Refrain from eating it for 2-3 days.

Stout Jelly

I made this with Russian Imperial Porter, a local brew of 13%. I highly recommend using the darkest, booziest stout you can find, with rich chocolate and spicy notes.

330ml Porter

100ml Water

100ml Sugar

2 1/4 sheets gelatin

2 tbsp Dutch Cocoa

Bloom gelatin. Heat sugar and water to simmer. Whisk in cocoa. Remove from heat and stir in soft gelatin until dissolved. Add beer and strain, let cool. To speed up the process, stick it in the fridge and stir every ten minutes until it thickens slightly.


Line the base of the bowl with cake slices. Pour the thickened jelly over the cake until almost covered. Chill until it has set somewhat. Add the rest of the jelly and chill until set.

Orange Curd

75g Butter, cubed

60g Caster Sugar

2 Oranges, zest and juice

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

7g Corn Starch

Heat zest and juice to a simmer. Whisk sugar and eggs, add cornstarch. Be sure to whisk thoroughly to avoid lumps. Pour half the juice over the eggs, whisk, then add eggs to the sauce pan, and slowly bring to a boil, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken. Set aside to cool to body temp, stirring occasionally, then whisk in the butter. Cover and chill.

Pastry Cream

500ml Milk

4 Egg Yolks

10g Cornstarch

80g Sugar

1 Vanilla Pod

Heat milk and half the sugar with the scraped vanilla to infuse. For stronger flavour remove from heat, cover and let stand 20 min. Use the same method as directed for Orange Curd. When custard is cooked, pour into a bowl and cover with cling film to avoid a skin forming while it cools.

To Finish:

Begin to soak some slices of cake in Cointreau. Loosen the pastry cream and raspberry jam (separately) with a rubber spatula or paddle on a stand mixer (I have no such luxuries here). Pipe or spread a 3/4 inch layer of cream over the jelly. Follow with a thin layer of raspberry jam, just around the bowl — you don’t want the strong, sweet flavour of raspberry to over power the creams or the delicious, delicious stout. In this version I added berries, you can do this or not, considering fresh berries


Add the slices of soaked cake and some orange segments.


Pipe the curd and spread evenly. Top with fluffy whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

IMG_2553How did the people react?

One lady, whose terrible trifle experience she described as being “the first and last time I ever eat trifle” clutched the bowl and practically cried with joy when I told her she could keep the leftovers. Another with horrible childhood memories of trifle admitted mine to be surprisingly pleasant (but couldn’t finish his portion due to bad memories).


As I’d never had trifle other than my mothers and the one we made at the hotel in London (the least ordered item on the menu, people apparently will order rice pudd before trifle), I ordered a mulled wine version up the road at a pub with a well-reputed chef.

Hate to say it…mine was much better.


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