Raspberry Syllabub Trifle

Image of individual trifles

Syllabub – a sort of boozy sweetened cream – is one of those old English desserts that’s mostly fallen out of favour but deserves a renaissance. It makes a wonderfully light cloudy topping for this almost equally old-fashioned pud, the sherry trifle.

This is a quick version. You can of course make your own sponge cake but I like the sugary crunch and vanilla scent of shop-bought trifle sponges, otherwise known as Savoy biscuits, ladyfingers or boudoir biscuits.

You can also make proper custard but again I cheat and buy ready-made. It’s a mistake to buy the posh sort made with eggs and cream and flecked with vanilla sold by some supermarkets, they’re too thin. You need the thick sort sold in cartons that your grandma poured on jam roly-poly, secretly loved by ex- schoolboys throughout the land (the custard, that is, not your grandma).

This recipe makes one large trifle or half a dozen individual ones. You can make it up to 24 hours ahead but don’t put the garnish on top until just before you serve it or the flaked almonds will go soft. If you’d like to eat the syllabub as a dessert on its own, you may wish to double the amounts of sherry, brandy and sugar.

Raspberry Syllabub Trifle


Image of a pack of trifle sponges

1 packet of trifle sponges (about 170g or 8 sponges)

140g amaretti biscuits (the hard ones)

140 ml sweet sherry (I used amontillado)

1 tbsp brandy (optional)

4 tbsp raspberry jam

800-900g  fresh raspberries (frozen are fine but defrost them in a strainer first or the trifle will get too soggy)

85g flaked almonds

570 ml ready-made custard

For the syllabub topping

60 ml sweet sherry

1 tbsp brandy

1 lemon, juice only

28g caster sugar

350 ml double cream (heavy cream)

Freshly grated nutmeg

To garnish:

The grated zest of an orange

85g flaked almonds


Image of trifle base soaked in sherry

Break the trifle sponges into large-ish pieces to fit the base of your bowl(s) along with the amaretti biscuits.

Soak with the sherry and, if using, the brandy.

Warm the jam until it’s runny and pour it over the soaked sponge.

Layer the raspberries and almonds on top then pour over the custard.

To make the syllabub topping, put the sherry, brandy and lemon juice in a bowl and add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved.

Image of sugar being dissolved in sherry and brandy

Pour in the cream, add a grating of fresh nutmeg and whisk until it holds its shape. Don’t over-whisk or it may split.

Spoon the syllabub over the trifle and put it in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Just before serving, toast the extra flaked almonds in a dry pan until they’re turning golden – be careful, they burn easily.

Scatter onto the trifle(s) and grate over the orange zest. Eat. Go for a lie down.

Image of individual trifles

14 thoughts on “Raspberry Syllabub Trifle

  1. Oh my, I love trifle but you’re right, no-one makes it anymore. This looks so lovely I might have to get on a train and hunt you down (although I suspect it may have long since been scoffed…)

    • No, odd, isn’t it, considering I’ve made it twice in recent weeks and both times people were virtually licking the bowls. Feel free to hop on a train any time – just give me due warning so I can have the trifle ready … 🙂

  2. And here’s the boozy rhubarb dish I was looking for yesterday 😉
    Trifle and syllabub are brilliant, especially with rhubarb, aren’t they? I also made a quite delicious rhubarb and syllabub dish last year, with Limoncello in the syllabub. We should have an annual tipsy trifle teaparty or something (cheesecake also a possibility, so fromage homage can play).

  3. I make trifle once a year – Christmas – which is daft really. I make what my family call a ‘trashy’ one complete with jelly and hundreds and thousands. Always goes down well but they would all look at me askance if I made it any other time.
    Your one looks fab. I normally ‘get round’ my husband if I want something by making him fish pie. But I have a feeling this would also work perfectly!

  4. I love a trifle, it always just slips down no matter how much main course you’ve eaten. It’s a shame people don’t make it more. I love your glasses/bowls by the way, their gorgeous!

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