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You could divide the English nation over the subject of the trifle. Whether or not to add jelly (that’s jello to my North American friends) to be more specific. A poll in the Guardian newspaper some time ago found that 62% said yes to jelly, and they speculated that the posher you are, the less likely you are to agree (unless you are so posh you can do whatever in the heck you want). My mother (a former cookery teacher so she knows her subject) thinks it depends on whereabouts in the country you come from. She is also very firm that Northeners (we originate from Yorkshire in the North East) never do jelly.
No matter where you come from though, a traditional trifle always contains egg custard. So I’m telling you now that there is AIP artistic licence in this recipe because mine has neither custard, nor any of the requisite sponge steeped in sherry. Now you see why I’m adding the jelly. Sorry, Mum!
This trifle takes a little longer than most of my recipes (it can be made in stages so be sure to read the tip below) but the end result is totally worth it. You get so many textures and different flavors in here that all come together so beautifully, making it a special treat that your nearest and dearest will love. I prefer to make individual trifles, however if you have a special glass bowl that rarely makes it out of the cabinet into the light of day, now’s your chance to get it out!
Spiced English Pear Trifle
- Put the water and honey into a large low sauté pan and heat until the honey has melted. Add the pears and cinnamon stick, together with the orange rind and juice. Bring up to a very gentle simmer. Add a cartouche (you’re going to love this video instruction) and cook gently for around 20 minutes until the pears are tender. You will end up with around 1 pint of liquid.
- Remove the pears and allow to cool down on a large plate. Bring the liquid up to the boil and reduce until you have ½ pint (this may take around 6-8 minutes. Don’t worry if you have a bit less than ½ pint, just add some water to bring it up to the mark. Now discard the cinnamon stick and orange rind. Pour the liquid into bowl, add the orange blossom water and gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Set aside and allow it to cool. Now place in the fridge and give it a stir once in a while.
- Meanwhile put all the crumble ingredients into a food processor and process for 2 minutes until the mixture is well combined. Spread the mixture out onto a parchment lined tray and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F until lightly browned, moving around every once in a while to prevent it from burning. The crumbs will still be soft, they will harden on cooling.
- For the cream: Drain the water from the cream (you can use this in smoothies) and transfer the cream to a mixing bowl. Whisk on high for 2-3 minutes until it forms soft peaks.
- Assemble the trifle: Cut the quartered pears into two or three slices lengthwise, depending on their size. Put a couple of heaped tablespoons of the crumble onto a separate plate and set aside. Give the jelly a good stir. Now divide half the quantity of pear slices between your serving bowl(s). Top with half the quantity of crumble, then half the jelly and half the cream. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients and finish by sprinkling over the reserved crumble.
The pears, jelly and crumble can all be prepared a day or two in advance and stored separately in the fridge (the crumble can also be frozen and therefore kept much longer). The coconut cream is best whipped before assembling the trifle. Serve within a couple of hours.