A Christmas Trifle

There’s something about Christmas that brings out the need to prove myself.  Usually in an area that I have absolutely no prior experience in.

This year it’s dessert.

I’ve volunteered to bring dessert to my partner’s family Christmas lunch which is traditionally held on Boxing Day. I have plenty of prior experience in bringing dessert. The bakery around the corner is excellent.

But the bakery will be closed on Boxing Day and I have absolutely no experience in actually making dessert. So, a week before Christmas, and I am doing a test run.  I begin this project in the same the way I begin all my projects. By leaving the house and not thinking about it.


But then the spectre of an embarrassing failure drives me home and onto the internet. How hard can it be?

I find lots of delicious but complicated recipes for sweets. But what I need is something very simple.  I discard any recipes that require eggs. Being against cruelty I have no intention of separating a yolk or beating an egg white until it is stiff.  I also discard any recipe that requires baking. Australia’s insistence on celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer makes this no time to be standing in front of a hot oven. And I discard anything that requires a food processor, Christmas night, after a day of eating and drinking, is not a recommended time to be operating heavy machinery.

That’s when I ring a friend. Perhaps she has a spare plane ticket. She does not but she does suggest a trifle. Apparently it’s very simple to make.  She explains that a trifle is a no bake dessert. Perfect.  She also explains that the trick to creating a truly great trifle is in the layering. So I carefully write down the recipe.

There’s a lot to do before you can begin, including a quick visit to the shopping centre (strangely none of the ingredients are in my cupboard).



Prepare the jelly by following the directions on the packet. Mix jelly crystals with warm water. Add fresh raspberries. Place in the fridge for one hour or until set.

Prepare the custard, also according to the packet directions.

Now that the preliminaries are over you can tackle the trifle itself.

Take the Italian sponge finger biscuits out of the packet and layer them across the bottom of a deep dish.

Open the bottle of  sherry and drizzle it over the biscuits.
Lustau_Papirusa_Manzanilla_SherrySpoon a layer of custard over the top of the biscuits. Take the jelly out of the fridge, chop roughly into cubes and layer over the custard. Repeat. Top with candied fruit and nuts. Place in the fridge until required.

This is what it should look like.


This is not what mine looked like. I was foiled by the layers. I suspect it takes a lot of experience in trifle making to stop yourself eating each layer as you make it.

I ate the jelly with fresh raspberries straight from the fridge.

I ate the custard warm and straight out of the bowl.

I ate the biscuits straight out of the packet.

And I drank the sherry straight from the bottle.

I ate my trifle one layer at a time.

So any other suggestions for a very simple, no bake, Boxing Day dessert?


Photo attributions via Wikimedia Commons: Aeroplane Jelly: By Albert Francis Lenertz (1891-1943). Sherry Bottle: By Matt Saunders (Own work). Trifle: By Pradeepraajkumar1981 (Own work).

About sagesomethymes

Daniela is a writer, theatre producer and civic educator. She has had short stories and poetry published in: 'Prayers of a Secular World', Inkerman & Blunt; 'Blue Crow Magazine', Blue Crow Press; 'Knitting and other stories', Margaret River Press and Radio National’s '360 documentaries'. Her debut play, 'Talc', was produced in 2010. Her short play, 'Sicilian Biscotti', was produced for the launch of “Women Power and Culture” at New Theatre in 2011 and shortlisted for the Lane Cove Literary Award in 2015. Her second full length play, 'Friday', was produced by SITCO at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2013. 'The Poor Kitchen' was produced in 2016 as part of the Old 505 Theatre’s Fresh Works Season and was published by the Australian Script Centre in 2017 (https://australianplays.org/script/ASC-1836). It was re-staged by Patina Productions at Limelight on Oxford in 2019. She co-wrote 'Shut Up And Drive' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at KXT in 2016. 'Seed Bomb' was produced at Old 505 Theatre as part of the FreshWorks Season in 2019 and has been published by the Australian Script Centre (https://australianplays.org/script/ASC-2166). She co-wrote 'Softly Surely' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at Flight Path Theatre in 2022. She is the co-founder of indie theatre company subtlenuance (www.subtlenuance.com) Her published short stories can be read via the Short Stories tab on this blog.
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1 Response to A Christmas Trifle

  1. Gina says:

    I love that you ate a layer, a bit at a time. You spared yourself the cementing of the ingredients, an excellent achievement, already!

    How about making a fruit trifle? All you need is jelly and your choice of fruit, cut up into small bits, so the float in the jelly before it sets. Even if the fruit ends up at the bottom of the dish, who cares?
    I know it’s hard to resist, but try not eating the jelly up all too soon.
    Merry Christmas! 🍧🍰🍮🍹

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