Alex Szrok, the head of pastry at St John in London, exclusively shares the recipe for the restaurant’s seasonal trifle.
“Alex [Szrok] is a brilliant pastry chef who puts his own spin on classic, very British dishes,” says Stylist’s guest editor Billie Piper.
Recipe: St John’s raspberry trifle
Preparation time: 1 hour 20, plus 2 hours macerating time
Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
For the sponge:
5 free-range eggs
160g caster sugar
35g melted butter
160g plain flour
Pinch of salt
For the raspberries:
2 tbsps caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
For the custard:
850ml double cream
3 free range eggs
3 free-range egg yolks
125g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream:
500ml double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
For the topping:
1 handful flaked almonds
Raspberry eau de vie
Step 1: To make the sponge, line a square cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 160°C. Set a deep bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, and beat the eggs and sugar over the heat until they’ve doubled in size. You’ll need an electric whisk for this process. Fold the melted butter, flour and salt into the mixture with a metal spoon and gently stir until just incorporated. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, then allow to cool.
Step 2: Macerate the raspberries by scattering with the caster sugar and lemon juice, then leave for a couple of hours.
Step 3: For the custard, warm the cream in a pan over a gentle heat to just below a simmer, until the surface begins to shimmer and a bubble or two taps the surface. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla, then when the cream is ready pour it slowly over the egg mixture, whisking constantly to incorporate.
Step 4: Set a large bowl above a saucepan of simmering water and use this to cook your custard, stirring every 5-10 minutes. This is a forgiving custard, so you need not worry about it catching on the bottom as it can be whisked back together if crisis occurs. The whole process should take 1 to 1½ hours. Cool before using.
Step 5: Next, make the cream. Whip the double cream with the sugar until you begin to see trails on the surface. Trifle cream is a thing of balance and restraint: it should not be too sweet, allowing the layers beneath to express themselves, and it is vital not to over-whip, as a thick cream can have a claggy result.
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Step 6: Take the flaked almonds and sprinkle them with a little raspberry eau de vie. You are aiming for a brief moisture rather than a pool. Stir in a small spoonful of icing sugar and work with your hands until the almonds are completely coated. Line a baking tray with parchment and scatter them over in a single layer. Bake in the oven on a low heat (around 120°C) for 30-40 minutes, keeping a watchful eye as they colour quickly. Stir once or twice to bring the browner almonds at the edges into the centre of the tray, ensuring they are all uniformly golden. When cool, they will be crisp and aromatic.
Step 7: To assemble the trifle, break your sponge into the bottom of a large bowl, leaving the pieces large enough to add interest. Sprinkle the cake with a few spoons of eau de vie, to taste. Add a little of the fruit juices, but take care not to over-saturate. Arrange the fruit in a layer above the sponge, then top liberally with custard. Follow with the cream, then sprinkle with the almonds.
From The Book Of St John by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver (£28, Ebury), out 3 October
Photography: Ellis Parinder
Jenny Tregoning is deputy production editor and food editor at Stylist, where she combines her love of grammar with lusting over images of food