The bottom of the big dessert bowl at Christmas was where all the action was. At least that's how John Becker remembers it, when he was growing up.
Needless to say, he developed a strong appreciation for the traditional English trifle growing up, noting that his grandmother always made trifle and plum pudding for the holidays.
"Rum or cognac were mainstays of both dishes," recounted Becker, a Pitt Meadows lawyer and TIMES columnist.
"In the case of the plum pudding it was burned off as part of the presentation at the family dinner table," he said.
But in the case of the trifle, there was no loss of alcohol content.
"We kids were only allowed one smallish bowl, whereas the adults went back two or three times."
Literally, he said, the bottom of the big glass serving bowl was where all the action was "and if we got to serve ourselves, we wanted to get the spoon to the bottom where all the rum was sitting."
He said the resulting small buzz was probably more placebo than anything else.
"But as kids, we looked forward to the trifle as much as the turkey dinner."
Slice or cube cake and sprinkle it with rum, brandy or sherry.
Place layer of cake in bottom of deep dish. Spread with jam, jelly or preserves (same flavour as fruit you are using). Top with layer of fruit. Over this, place a layer of custard, then a layer of whipped cream. Repeat layers: cake, jam, fruit, custard, and whipped cream.
Top with cherries, shaved chocolate, nuts, or tiny candy sprinkles. Add ladyfingers around the edge.
From scratch, for the purists, use a packaged mix, such as Bird's Eye or Jell-O brand. You can even use baby custard. Suggested fruits (and jams) to use in this recipe: raspberries, strawberries, peaches, apricots, blueberries, or pineapple.
- John Becker TIMES columnist and Pitt Meadows lawyer
(A traditional English dessert)
1 plain yellow, sponge or pound cake
minimum of 1 to 1½ oz. rum, brandy or sherry
1 to 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, thawed
½ to ¾ cups jam, jelly or preserves (same flavour as fruit)