I love a big, boozy trifle but loathe the unevenness of the alcohol-drenched patches of soggy sponge so commonly encountered. In this recipe, a deliciously sticky wine is built into the custard and the sponge is replaced by the sturdier lady-finger biscuits. The result is an even-textured trifle, every mouthful rich and balanced. The jelly needs to be at a barely firm consistency before assembling the trifle.
For the riesling custard
6 egg yolks
110g caster sugar
180ml sweet riesling (or sauternes, tokaji, sweet sherry or moscato d'Asti)
300ml whipping cream
For the peaches and jelly
1 litre water
400g caster sugar
juice and pared peel of 1 lemon (about 50ml juice)
6 large ripe peaches
400g raspberries, plus 100g extra, for garnish
6 gelatine leaves
To assemble the trifle
120-200g Savoiardi biscuits
300ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp icing sugar
25g slivered Iranian pistachios, or toasted flaked almonds
1. To prepare the custard, fill a medium saucepan with water that rises about a quarter of the way up its sides, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium heatproof bowl and place over the simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisk continuously for about 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is pale and thick. Add about half of the wine and continue to whisk until thickened again (about 2 minutes). Repeat with the remaining wine, and while the mixture is still pale and thick, remove from heat. Whisk for another few minutes, then set aside to cool completely before covering and placing in the fridge.
2. To poach the peaches, combine water, sugar, lemon juice, peel and cloves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat to low and lower fruit into the simmering syrup. Cover with a piece of baking paper, then place a small plate on top to keep the peaches submerged. Poach gently for about 10 minutes, or until just tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a shallow bowl to cool. Pour all but 600ml of the poaching syrup over the peaches, and place the reserved (600ml) syrup back into the saucepan, together with the lemon peel and cloves. Add the raspberries and cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they disintegrate.
3. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften (about 5 minutes).
4. Strain the raspberries through a fine sieve placed over a large bowl, then discard the seeds and pulp. Squeeze the softened gelatine to remove excess water, then drop into the hot raspberry syrup. Whisk to dissolve the gelatine, then set aside to cool slightly before refrigerating to a soft set. Stir occasionally so the jelly sets evenly.
5. In the meantime, peel the peaches and slice into 2cm segments. Place segments in a bowl, covered in their syrup.
6. When the custard has cooled, whisk the 300ml whipping cream in an electric mixer until soft waves form. Using a large spatula or whisk, gently fold half the cream into the custard, and once incorporated, fold in the remaining half. Place in the fridge to chill until you're ready to assemble the trifle.
7. Choose a large, deep, glass serving bowl (3- to 4-litre capacity) and place a third of the barely-set jelly at the base. Gently lay the sponge fingers on top, breaking or cutting a few if you need to, to cover any gaps. Top the sponge fingers with a layer of the peaches (with just the syrup clinging to them), then spoon half of the custard on top. Smooth to cover the surface evenly with a spatula, then top that with another third of the jelly. Repeat the process of layering (reserving a few peach slices for garnish), ending with the third layer of jelly on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
8. On Christmas morning, whisk the 300ml cream with the vanilla and icing sugar in an electric mixer until soft waves form. Spoon the cream onto the top jelly layer, then garnish with the remaining sliced peaches and raspberries. Sprinkle over the pistachio (or flaked almond) just before serving.
Helen's tip In a hurry? Place the bowl of liquid jelly into a larger bowl of iced water and stir gently until it's just spoonable. If you're eating this on Christmas Day, make the trifle on Christmas Eve so that it melds together overnight in the fridge, leaving only the whipped cream and fruit garnish to add on the day.
Find more of Helen Goh's recipes in the Good Food Favourite Recipes cookbook.