Easy Christmas Trifle Holiday Dessert

Fri 14th, Dec, 2012

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Boom shakka shakka. Beach Cottage trifle bokeh.

If you are a foodie, gasp at shop-bought cake, do not like packet jelly (and I don’t blame you – you might call that Jello) and prefer not to add any further jiggle to your upper arms, step away from the computer right now.

If you however, are a busy mum, need a Christmas dessert that is more of a building than a making, want to pretend you worked hard on a dessert when really you didn’t, then bob is your uncle, you came to the right place and I am so your girl.


Now I really cannot tell you any long, interesting and fancy stories about travelling to some Continental country and eating this in a French cafe overlooking the sea…



….what would be more fitting is that I made this deep in the heart of the Kent countryside one day in a cheap B&Q kitchen, when I was newly married and rubbish at making dessert….as you know that part hasn’t improved too much, me and baking / desserts aren’t the perfect partners, but I do have a few things up my sleeve when and if I need them… this is one of those.



I have been thinking about food and recipes a whole lot recently…I read quite a few food blogs…mostly for the styling, for the being nosey into someone else’s life (that is the main reason I ever started to read blogs)…plus I love the inspiration on photography and ideas to try and improve mine…some food blogs I have been reading for years, many of them have books out too now and I have enjoyed riding along on their journey with them…or should I say lurking along on their journey with them

….and in addition to all that new media stuff, I have a TONNE of cookery books…


Recently I pulled one of these books down from the shelves, it hadn’t seen the light of day for a while, I settled down opened it up and the first few words were along the lines of ‘when I am in my house in the South of France or my apartment in Manhattan I make sure that before I arrive it is stocked with *insert expensive French saucepan brand* and fresh produce and the best handmade pasta’…hmmm I put the book down, looked out the window of the tattiest old cottage on the beaches, picked it up again and then read a bit further, about only buying ‘the best’ olive oil, hand something or othered (yes I know this is not a word, I like to make up words on my blog, I don’t care on here about grammar, so shoot me) and truffles..

I looked up at all these celebrity chefs looking down at me from my bookshelves talking about designer salt and truffles that cost more than my handbag and never make it into my kitchen, and it made me wonder how much these people are anything like me at all…


That same evening one of them came on the tv with his $13,000 fridge and it all just, I dunno, felt odd…I looked over at my fridge who just about every day I dream of replacing with a fancy schmancy retro Italian one and if not quite that very much fantasise about making it over with bright pink paint…

…I do not own any special equipment either, no pasta making machine, no chefs professional knives, I have two saucepans, and two stockpots from IKEA and I waited YEARS for my beloved-I-worship-and-stroke-her-very-single-day mixer and I don’t as a rule spend more on olive oil than I do on yet another pair of school shoes, ahem quilt or piece of sport uniform.

But these people on my bookshelves do…and it seems that since I chose to be a mum who stayed at home all those years ago I have journeyed along it all with them – while they bought apartments in Manhattan and order the best oil, I have been here with 3 hungry kiddos and a real girl life – experimenting, cooking a dinner day in day out, trying their ideas, trying to keep it all a bit healthy, cutting recipes from magazines, trying this and that from basic ingredients and making it all up as I go along..

And that’s where the things I cook have come from…from my real life…and a husband who uses 65 saucepans to make baked beans on toast…I’ve adapted things to suit us, to suit the sport commitments which it seems get more not less and when I’ve come home and there is nothing to eat I’ve rustled up things with cornflakes and tins of tuna, pasta and jars of olives and cheated with curry paste….

Which, in the midst of this rambling (I could go on for ever here) is why I like and make this recipe…and what I am trying to say is, sometimes I buy shop Swiss Roll and ready-made custard, it works for me, it’s not trendy and Italian deli, but anything that means I can get home ‘made’ works for me  and I like it like that Winking smile


Christmas Dessert

Easy Trifle


1 x chocolate Swiss Roll (or equivalent sponge/cake)

1 x carton custard

1 x packet jelly (you might call this jello)

1 x carton double cream whipped

1 x punnet strawberries

1 x Flake chocolate bar (or chocolate grated)


1. make up jelly as to packet instructions

2. slice Swiss Roll and layer in dish

3. add jelly on top of Swiss Roll

4. slice and add layer of strawberries

5. add layer of custard

6. whip cream and spread on top

7. sprinkle with crushed Flake


*BC Recipe Notes : any chocolate grated will do *if you can’t get Swiss Roll make or buy choc cake *use ice when you make up the jelly it’s much quicker  *invest in a trifle bowl if you can (you can get them cheaply in dollar stores), they make your layering look impressive *you can use frozen fruit and I do but not in the Summer when it is in season  **add some liqueur if you like, I mostly don’t b/c the BC Crew do not partake

If you have a little Christmas event to turn up to and don’t know what to take, there is one thing with this I can guarantee :  this looks impressive and gets much ooohing and ahhing even though you are the one who knows that all it really involved was opening, slicing and layering…

See you next time….




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47 Responses to “Easy Christmas Trifle Holiday Dessert”

  1. Oooh am I first in line?? Or just the only one who is really quite excited to see this very stylish looking (and isn’t that all that matters really?!!) ‘opening slicing and layering’ recipe?!? My kids will freakin LOVE this…..thanks lovey xx P.s hope you feel on the mend soon…x

    • Oh and yes, I’ve seen very lovely trifle bowls in the cheapo shops…..goodness, now I best go and buy!….

      • sarah says:

        I know I fought off for some very odd reason buying one for years…this makes the whole thing easy but looks good too! ..and there is something about opening the fridge to a trifle in a glass trifle dish x

    • sarah says:

      it’s soooo easy and sooo tasty, I think they will love it…mine do, even the one who doesn’t like strawberries…he just picks them out x

  2. Selby says:

    I love that your recipes & blog are ‘real girl’ !! It’s what keeps me coming back:)

    Sometimes the ‘perfect’ look books are fun to window shop but other days they aren’t so great & leave me not feeling so good because my life dosent ever look like that.

    I love that what you do is beautiful &inspiring but achievable for real gals & With not a $295 napkin ring in sight;)

    • sarah says:

      ahhh thanks Selby, what a lovely comment…for me it there hasn’t really been any choice…had a baby very young didn’t want to leave him to get a career so had to budget other ways…I think it is interesting that you can have things nice (but not perfect) and achievable…it’s the biggest reason I come back to this blog too lol xx

  3. Alice says:

    oh Sarah how lovely… It looks so good, i am actually salivating… Such a shame I am banned (insulin resistant just one look and I gain 5 kilos instantly – ok perhaps not 5 maybe 1 kg) from enjoying such yummy goodies :(…

    Lovely photography work Sarah. Very festive :)

    • sarah says:

      I am sorry you cannot touch it…but maybe that is a good thing! I hesitated to blog this recipe because it sure is full of calories, but I thought that I feed it to three kids who even though they eat like horses can do with a few calories on their bones so I just went ahead and blogged it.. x

      thanks for the comments on the photography, I tried some different settings on these pics and was trying to nail the bokeh :-)

  4. Robyn says:

    So pretty! That would be a showstopper and the first dessert eaten at a holiday party. Thanks for sharing your real life! I read some blogs (which won’t be named ;) that paint a perfect picture over at their houses – Most days I feel like a success if the house doesn’t burn down, dinner is an added bonus ;) – we had scrambled eggs tonight… So I am so excited to see an easy and beautiful recipe! You are wonderful!

  5. Rukmini Roy says:

    Supremo. Now see that is why we like you around the block. You are real. This is real. This is what happens. My husband complaints about how every saucepan is not good enough for him to fry a couple of nuggets and I do require to pull of expensive looking food. Everyone around me is a foodie.
    This is gorgeous. I am so doing this and when no one’s around. They might not oohh and ahh if they see me making that. I promise I’ll be back with reactions :D

  6. Emily says:

    I love it. I’m using it. I was just thinking about trifle this same afternoon and this truly is too easy.

  7. krissie says:

    sorry to mention this, but you didint mention ( I dont think) when to add the jelly bit? I am gasping at the sheer beauty of this easy beauty, and may in fact one over xmas!

    ps I have polish connections too, hence the Q in previous posts!

  8. Michelle W says:

    Sarah, I love trifle. I love all sorts of trifle. My husband doesn’t, nor do my kids. I’m a lonely trifle lover and haven’t figured out how to make a “trifle for one” yet… Your trifle looks YUM!

  9. alison says:

    Sarah, I make a trifle that is almost identical to this in a bowl that is almost identical to yours. It gets devoured at family dinners. I use the little jam rolettes. They look cute when sliced up and arranged around the bowl. I generally don’t like alcohol in desserts but I usually sprinkle some sweet sherry on the cake slices that aren’t exposed. I use canned peach slices. I add toasted almond flakes on top just before serving so they don’t go soft.

    I think I will try your version as well this Christmas.


    • alison says:

      PS I’ve made your carrot soup in the slow cooker several times lately. I put my spin on it and have made it into my own version. I call it Sanity Soup because I open the fridge and there’s my no fat, healthy lunch or dinner ready to go. I love it.

      • sarah says:

        glad you like it…what is the spin??

        it’s too easy to have that in the fridge in the week..yes saves sanity for sure…I make it up and then I get a healthy lunch, with veggies etc for no effort….

        • alison says:

          I have used the red lentils but I’ve started just adding a can of drained and rinsed brown lentils late in the cooking. I use vegetable stock as I’m vegetarian.

          [About 30 years. No, no red or white meat. No, no seafood either. No, never think about meat. No, Mr alison is a full carnivore. Yes, Ms alison 1 & Ms alison 2 are quite happy to eat vegetarian as well as meat. No, I come from a long line of hard core meat eaters. No, I'm not trying to save the lambs, the environment or make a statement. No, I don't get anaemic. No, it's not hard eating this way. Yes, my pre ordered vegetarian option for this function is lovely thank you. Hands off.]

          I omit the ginger.

          I dice approx a cup of potato and a cup of pumpkin. I either add that to the slow cooker or steam it then put it in the blender with some of the stock then add it to the soup to “thicken” it…OR…after the soup is cooked with the added potato and pumpkin I put about a third of the soup in the blender, blend it with the lid FIRLY on then return it to the slow cooker and stir.

          I think I’ve included small strips of capsicum too.

          I add grated cheese to a bowl sometimes.

          • sarah says:

            hmm thanks I have taken those on board especially the lid on one, haha!

            I hear you re your vegetarian choices, love how people love to have an opinion on how others live ;-) x

  10. Sue says:

    Dear Sarah, I’m a long, I mean long, long time reader and I have just one question about your life on the beaches. It’s this — what is “sport” down your way? You’ve spoken about it so many times and I’ll admit I am curious because I suspect sport down under is way different than in my town. I can’t imagine sport on the sand, or wherever. Can you write something about the sporting lifestyle down under. Thanks a bunch.

    • sarah says:

      Hi Sue

      There are lots of things going on on the beach…one of my kiddos trains for a non beach based sport on the beach as well as water things like boats, surf sports, ski’s etc…and of course swimming!

      I don’t think there are many sports not played here, especially where we live as there are a lot of migrants who each have built up there own sports…

  11. Kim H says:

    Loved that post, Sarah. Love the honesty and realness of what it is to be a stay at home mum. I am but only have one kidlet – we homeschool and I try to do a teeny bit of writing and blogging (OK… a lot) but life’s soooo busy. I’m like you, I cook everyday and I love my vegie garden and I love Jamie and his fridge and Nigella and her stuff but it is exactly how you put it. Reality is not always embracing of all things jamie and Nigella. That trifle looks every bit as good as theirs does AND your kids still get taxied to sport AND fed!! Cheers to you, Sarah, you funny and very cool blogger xxx

    • sarah says:

      thanks KIm! I must say the celebrity chefs are fabulous but after years of it now and heaving bookshelves full of them lol I kinda look at them and see us very differently!

  12. Gail says:

    Love your recipes, they always WORK!!!! This sounds and looks heavenly too! Just one question, can’t see the jelly or when you put it in? Is it really necessary?

    • sarah says:

      hmmm, I have done it without it – I am also wondering if you think I mean ‘jam’ when actually I mean ‘jello’???

      about to make an edit to the recipe now…

  13. Katie says:

    Hi Sarah! Cute!! Is custard pudding? And jelly? Is it jam? “Jello?”
    Love u read u everyeveryeveryday!!

  14. joyce tx says:

    Katie, I was wondering the same things!
    Are the layers: cake roll, fruit, pudding[?], jam [?], whipped cream, grated chocolate???
    (Trying to translate to American can be tricky!)

    • sarah says:

      sorry Joyce I didn’t even think of the translation!!! first of all jelly is your Jello and our jam is your jelly…confusing

      I wrote this post with a headache and b/c I do this recipe with my eyes shut I think that happened when I was typing!!!

      layer in this way

      swiss roll/cake
      jelly / jello
      flake / chocolate bar grated



  15. merilyn says:

    Hi Sarah, it looks gorgeous and I bet it tastes good and doesn’t last long!
    lol m :)

    • merilyn says:

      p.s. you are the perfect tonic for all times …thankyou Sarah, what a great person you are! :) lol m

  16. Treann says:

    Thank you Sarah, first time visitor and what a gorgeous blog! Will definately be doing this recipe for Christmas……

  17. Angie says:

    We all recieved trifle bowls from Mom many years ago. First time I used mine I had baked a wonderful pineapple cake that prompty FELL for a special occasion. I scooped it out of the pan with a spoon layered it in that bowl with canned pineapple and whipped cream. Looked lovely and no one had any idea. Have also used boxed brownie mix, choclate mousse from a box and whippped cream and nuts. Layered salads are lovely in these also. Layered lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, fresh peas, cold chicken topped with some sort of lovely dressing. Love your blog still Sarah just dont get by often !!!! Merry Christmas to the BC crew !

  18. Emma says:

    Yay for real-girls trifle! Want to hear a chocolate ‘spin’ on this? Use lamington fingers for the cake (not sure how to translate that for US people!), port wine flavoured jelly/o, berries for the fruit and chocolate flavoured custard… probably thousands more calories, but hey, it’s nearly christmas :-)

    • sarah says:

      woohoo to the chocolate custard idea…my upper arms just jiggled a bit more thinking about it ;-)

    • Renee says:

      For us US people….we don’t have Lammington’s here because they’ve been keeping them a BIG SECRET down there. ;-) The best way I can describe it is….yellow cake cut into a 3 x 3 x 1″ square, spread with chocolate on all sides, then rolled in coconut. Then take two slices and fill the middle with whipped cream and put together like an ice cream sandwich. Down under you can buy them pre-packaged (like Twinkies) or fresh from a bakery. The bakery one I had was beyond delicious. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. Seriously. Another wonderful thing they have down there are Anzac Biccies. Sarah…you should do a column on that too.

      • sarah says:

        thanks, I haven’t made Lammington’s yet – the home made ones are tricky to make but WORTH it…

        I love love love Anzac biscuits too !

  19. Deb says:

    Hey Sarah,
    Just to be a complete pain in the butt here, I read through the above comments, but couldnt see it. When adding the Jelly, is it set already, or liquid, so that it soaks into the cake?
    Also, on the topic of making up words etc, I love the way you write, its just how my girlfriends would talk to each other while sitting back having a coffee, so I think that is why, amongst everything visually lovely on here, I keep coming back, because I relate so well to how you say things!
    I also feel that we have very similar taste in decorating, except you have actually acheived most of how you want things to look, where as I, until I found your blog, was resigned to the fact that I would never achieve it! Your hints and tips, and laid backness, have helped me to see that a little step in the right direction is better than none! So I am getting there.
    Thanks you for just being you! ;-)
    Deb. x
    PS sorry that was a massive rant!!

    • sarah says:

      that wasn’t a massive rant, thank YOU for the lovely feedback – sometimes I feel like I am talking to myself on here but my stats tell me that isn’t true lol!

      ok the jelly goes in set, but, I have done it in a rush when it isn’t set properly and it’s ok but obviously more soggy..sorry I will make it more clear on the recipe, a simple recipe it’s supposed to be!

      a tip for the jelly that I have been using recently that works a treat – follow the packet instructions to make the jelly up, but use 2/3 hot water to dissolve the powder/gelatine and then add ice cubes as the rest of your water content…this speeds it up hugely!

      hope that helps

  20. Hey Sarah! I’m stepping out of my comfort zone this year and making an effort on the dessert front. This is the top gun I aim to bring to the table on Tuesday, and I cannot wait to see the faces! ;-) Thanks heaps for sharing. Wishing you and yours a wonderful, happy and safe Chrissy. Catcha in new years! heather x