Recipe – Battenberg Trifle Showstopper

Every year I attempt something new and a bit scary for our Christmas lunch dessert. Previously I’ve done ice cream bombs and huge trifles. Everyone in our house loves a trifle, so this year I thought I’d create something of my own, a Battenberg Trifle. This has all the components of a trifle but looks like a battenberg cake. It’s huge but really impressive and actually, once you have a key bit of kit, relatively simple… with a bit of coordination and a fair wind!

To feed 6-8 people, you will need:

  • A battenberg tin, such as this:
  • A baking tray with small sides, but where the width is more than the battenberg tin length and the baking tray length is more than twice the battenberg tin width
  • 4 eggs
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Tin of Bird’s Custard
  • 750ml full cream milk
  • Two packets of Hartley’s Strawberry Jelly (the cubes in a slab, not the powder)
  • 300g double cream

This can be made the night before – in fact you can make the jelly and custard earlier. It’s the sponge and the construction that should be done as close to serving as possible, but the night before is fine!

Firstly, line the battenberg tin with cling film, ensuring you make each compartment as watertight as possible.

Battenberg tin lined

Make the jelly using the instructions on the packet. The two packets you have will usually make 2 pints of jelly, but only make 750ml of jelly, as you’ll need it to set really firm. Pour this into two slots of the battenberg tin, leaving a small gap to the top. Set this in the fridge and get onto making the custard.

Again, make the custard using the instructions on the tin, with enough powder and sugar for 2 pints but only use 750ml of milk so it sets firm. Once nice and thick, pour into a jug and leave to cool on the side (not the fridge) for an hour. Then take the jelly out of the fridge and pour the custard into the two remaining slots in the battenberg tin.

Jelly and Custard in Tin

The next bit comes down to timing. If you are making the jelly and custard well in advance, leave it in the fridge. If you’re less than 4 hours from putting it all together, you will need to start the jelly and custard in the fridge and then move it to the freezer for half an hour just prior to wrapping it all up in the sponge.

To make the sponge, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line the baking tray with butter and then greaseproof paper.

In an electric mixer, or with a handwhisk, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed for 8-10 minutes until the mixture is really thick and foamy. It shouldn’t easily drop from a spoon. Then, using a large spoon, gently fold in the flour and lemon zest.

Pour this into the baking tray ensuring it’s quite even across the top and bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden and springy to the touch.

Sponge in Tray

Turn this over onto another piece of greaseproof paper, tap out of the tin and pull the paper on the top of the sponge away.


While the sponge is still warm, get the jelly/custard and measure out every two slots width so you can see where the sponge will fold, scoring the position with a long knife:

Put the jelly/custard back in the fridge and then score the sponge across where you had made the marks. Cut off the sponge at the end so that it’s the right overall length:

Scoring Sponge

Then, make a V-shape in the sponge with the knife using your score mark as the centre. You need to cut out sponge down to around half the depth. Then using the paper underneath, pull up the sponge so you get a crease in each ‘corner’ – the places where you have just cut. This will hopefully give the sponge a hinge in the right places ready for filling and rolling, and reduce the cracking you might otherwise get.

When the sponge has completely cooled, whisk the cream until really stiff.  Spread the cream on the four ‘faces’ and not into the cut hinges, it should be 2-3mm thick. Take the custard/jelly out of the fridge or freezer. Carefully remove one custard by pulling the clingfilm all around it and place this on the sponge as shown. Do the same with one jelly, but be careful as it could split. Place this next to the custard and layer some more cream on top:

First layer of jelly and custard

Repeat this with the remaining jelly and custard, making sure you reverse the sides so you put a jelly on a custard and vise versa. Then very carefully, using the paper, roll the sponge around the filling. Push down all sides and where the edges of the sponge join, pull apart a little, dab in some extra cream and reseal.

With the paper still around it, move this to your serving plate and gently pull the paper away from the cake. Tightly wrap a ‘tape’ of clingfilm around the long sides and faces of the cake and put in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

When ready to serve, remove the clingfilm and cut the ends so you get the traditional battenberg look with flat faces.

Serve sliced with more cream and if you want, a few hundreds and thousands sprinkled on. Enjoy!


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