There are many favorite recipes that come from southern Appalachia. Old world recipes that the colonists brought with them have become great dishes for the holiday season. Two of these recipes are Trifle, a layered desert, and Tipsy Cake, a dessert laced with brandy or rum. Both desserts are very good, festive, and associated with Christmas in many households.
In 1596, Thomas Dawson published a book called The Good Huswife's Jewell. In this book is the first known mention of the dessert named trifle. The recipe was for a thick cream, flavored with sugar, ginger, and rosewater. Around the year 1656, the addition of milk made a thinner mixture to pour over bread that had been soaked in alcohol. This is very similar to the tipsy cake that became popular in Appalachian southern states. Tipsy Laird is a Scottish dish with Drambuie or whiskey soaked cake.
Trifle is often preferred as a Christmas dessert instead of the much heavier Christmas Pudding. Trifle is so pretty when carefully layered in a large trifle bowl that it is often used as a centerpiece on a buffet or the dinner table. There are so many variations that each cook has their own special way of making this wonderful dessert.
This is my version of a much loved traditional trifle with the addition of raspberry jello.
2 packages (12 oz each) raspberry jello
2 10 ounce packages frozen raspberries (thaw completely in a colander set in large bowl, reserve any juice)
1 - 2 bananas, ripe and firm, sliced thin
1 sponge cake (2 - 3 cups broken in bite size pieces)
2 10 ounce boxes heavy cream
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar (granulated white)
1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
Finely chopped walnuts, or slivered almonds, about 1/4 cup (optional)
Make raspberry jello according to package directions, using any saved juice from the frozen raspberries as part of the cold water measurement. Gently pour cooled jello into a trifle bowl and add half of the thawed raspberries to it, chill till set. Mash rest of the raspberries till consistency of a sauce and refrigerate till jello in trifle bowl is set.
When jello is set, remove the bowl from refrigerator and layer the sliced bananas then sponge cake pieces on top of jello. Pour mashed raspberries evenly over cake. Cover and refrigerate.
Make custard: Heat 10 ounces cream in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often with wooden spoon. As the cream is heating, beat the egg yolks and sugar till smooth. Strain yolk mixture into clean bowl, slowly add hot cream into egg yolks, stirring vigorously till well mixed. Pour mixture back into pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly till mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon without running off. Remove from heat and place on rack to cool.
When the custard is cool, whip the remaining 10 ounces heavy cream till soft peaks form. Remove trifle bowl from refrigerator and spread custard over the cake/raspberry layer, place 1/2 cup blueberries around edges of custard. Spread whipped cream over custard. Sprinkle remaining blueberries on top of whipped cream. Sprinkle the nuts on top if desired. Chill at least two hours before serving.
British colonists who settle in southern coastal areas liked their tipsy cake and it remained a very popular dessert with the Southern people. This sweet cake dessert is really very simple to make. Stale cake, usually pound cake, and sometimes biscuits, were soaked in whiskey (1 oz) and sherry (5 oz). A fruit jam is layered over the cake then warm custard is poured over the jam. This is chilled for at least two hours before serving. Fresh whipped cream is spread on top just before serving.