Yeah, yeah I know. Trifle. Microwave. Not exactly two words you expect to go together. But this isn’t a proper trifle really. It’s a sort of weird take on trifle because proper trifle takes ages if you’re making the custard and jelly yourself – that is, without the help of Mr Bird’s and Mr Hartley.
And I’m not entirely convinced by the traditional trifle setup anyway. There’s something wrong about the grittiness of the sponge cake pores clogged with raspberry flavoured gelatin – and don’t even mention overwhipped or UHT stabilised cream. The only ‘proper’ trifle I’ve made was overly complicated too. It was a chocolate and orange one with a brownie base, a marmalade layer, some syrup-soaked clementines, a ganache layer, a homemade chocolate custard and some whipped cream. Except the cream didn’t whip properly for some reason (I just stood there like a monkey with a hand mixer for 20 minutes, scratching my head) so it just flopped down though all the layers and made trifle soup. Which was delicious, but did ruin the vibe somewhat.
However, my new 15 minute microwave trifle solution fixes all those complicated and weird problems. It’s much simpler; essentially a boozed-soaked sponge, covered in a generous layer of jammy coulis, topped with a creamy mix of mascarpone, double cream and that extra thicc greek yogurt for a little bit of tang.
But the goddam microwave, Freeborn, where does the goddamn microwave come in?
I measure and mix the sponge in the trifle bowl, and cook it the microwave. Because it doesn’t matter what it looks like as it’ll be soaked in alcohol anyway (a statement not dissimilar to how I go about dressing up for parties). Then, I do some more cheating. I empty a jar of posh blackcurrant conserve into a cereal bowl, add the juice of a lemon and microwave that too. Then I pour the whole bubbling mess over the warm, whisky sozzled sponge and stick it outside because it’s December in Scotland and my fridge is smaller than Boris Johnson’s capacity for public apology. While it’s cooling, I’ll whip together a tub of mascarpone, some high-fat greek yogurt and a generous dash of double cream with a sploosh of vanilla extract and some icing sugar. I’ll then spread that carefully on top and leave it to cool before spattering it with bits of jam in an attempt to make it look nice. It then sits for 24 hours or so for all the sponge to get soaked through.
That’s it. That’s what I did. It makes enough for around 6 people if you’ve just had a roast dinner that would serve half of of the population of Papua New Guinea with leftovers. Four if you’ve been stingy with the portions.
Here’s exactly how to make a trifle if you’re also a half-arsed cheapskate like me and should probably be locked up for war crimes.
To make 1 Microwave Trifle you’ll require:
A glass pyrex dish type thing, around the diameter of a small dinner plate and deep enough to put a guinea pig or two in comfortably.
- A tub of mascarpone cheese
- 150ml of double cream (one of those tiny wee pots you get)
- 200g, or around 4 very generous tablespoons of 10% fat Greek yogurt
- A jar of finest blackcurrant conserve (I use the deluxe Lidl one because I’m very, very classy.)
- An lemon
- Some icing sugar (enough)
- Much whisky (around a dram or twa) or brandy, or any other spirit you like. Would *not* recommend gin.
- A egg
- 50g of flour
- 50g of sugar
- 50g of butter
- Half a tsp of baking powder
- Some vanilla extract (a capful or so)
Start with spong. Melt the butter for 30 seconds in the micro, then stir in the flour, sugar, egg and vanilla and mix til it’s just combined. Microwave this on high for 30 second bursts, until the top is just tacky and it’s risen and spongy beneath your fingers. Poke holes in it and pour over the whisky evenly.
Empty the jam into another microwavable bowl and squeeze over the juice of the lemon. This not only thins it out a lot so it soaks into the sponge a bit more, but also sets it harder due to the pectin in the juice which acts like a natural gelatin, solidifying the whole shebang. Not that gelatin isn’t natural. Of course it is. Arsenic is natural if you think about it. So’s leukemia. Natural doesn’t always equal better, is my point.
Anyway, microwave the jam in 30 second intervals too, stirring the lemon juice in as it gets hotter. It’s done when it’s much runnier, around a minute and 30, possibly less depending on how hot your box gets. Pour this over the sponge and put it on your back doorstep to chill out.
Meanwhile, whip the mascarpone with the yogurt and then stir in the cream. I use a balloon whisk for this. Dust over a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and some vanilla extract and stir until it’s nicely combined and homogeneous in texture. You can shlop it about a fair bit but not toooo much as you don’t want the cream to overwhip.
When the jammy base is cool, spoon over the cream mixture and spread it around evenly. You can decorate it how you like. I had originally planned to do some brazil nut brittle scattered on the top but my brazils had gone horribly rancid, so I settled for some extra blobs of jam I’d not managed to scrape out of the jar first-time ‘round. You can sprinkle over some hundreds and thousands, grass clippings, or perhaps some fresh berries if you’d actually put some time and effort into it rather than thinking of doing this at 22:18 the night before the event.