As soon as I saw this article detailing Heston Blumenthal’s trifle made in celebration of the upcoming Royal Wedding, I knew I had to give it a go.
Following the runaway success of Heston’s hidden orange pudding during Christmas 2010, Waitrose commissioned the Dinner proprietor to create a refreshing Summer dessert in celebration of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. I can’t say I care a great deal about the wedding but I do appreciate the general buzz of excitement among people I speak to – rays of sunshine in these politically gloomy times are welcome. One thing definitely guaranteed to grab my attention however is a new Heston recipe.
Heston seems to have a bit of a thing for trifles, as In Search Of Heston has previously noted. His In Search of Perfection version is particularly mental, with typically absurd amount of stages involved. It did come in handy for one section however – the strawberry compote, which here serves as the “jelly” layer of a Seventies trifle. I incorporated fresh strawbs in with the compote, as I know Heston is fond of mixing the cooked and raw version of an ingredient together. In place of custard there’s a particularly intriguing saffron cream, topped with fragrant, crisp amaretti biscuits. The supermarket version is laced with Marc de Champagne brandy – well I checked my cupboard and I was fresh out (!) so I plumped for my old favourite dessert spirit, Marsala. Finally there’s a meringue topping, and a garnish of candied almonds and dried strawberries.
There’s a few stages involved to be sure but none of them are particularly taxing and involve a bit of letting the ingredients sit about. I have no idea how close my version has come, as it isn’t in the shops yet at the time of writing, but I was very pleased with it. It’s creamy, fruity and the saffron sends in a festive, spiced note out of left-field, yet it’s somehow warming and comforting.
I’ll be fascinated to try the real thing when it’s around to see how I did but either way, I think it’s a lovely dessert with a lot going for it.
Heston Blumenthal’s Royal Wedding Trifle (serves 6 – 8):
For the strawberry compote:
1kg strawberries, hulled and diced
100g caster sugar
- Place the strawberries and sugar (reserving 4 for later) in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring occasionally. Cook down for about 15 minutes until you have a sticky puree.
- Pass the puree through a sieve to remove all the bits and crush well with the back of a spoon to get the most out of it.
For the saffron cream:
500ml double cream
About 20 threads of saffron
8 tablespoons caster sugar
- Pop the cream in a saucepan and add the saffron. Bring to a gentle simmer then turn off the heat and allow to cool. The saffron will infuse and colour the cream, turning custard-yellow.
- When the cream has cooled whisk, gradually adding the sugar. Keep going until you have a stiff cream.
For the amaretti:
150g crushed amaretti biscuits
4 tablespoons Marsala wine
- Mix the amaretti with the Marsala but don’t let it sit around too long – you still want them to have some crunch.
For the meringues:
5 egg whites
300g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually incorporate the sugar. Once all that’s in add the cornflour and vinegar. Keep whisking until the mixture is stiff.
- Pour into a piping bag and pipe 5cm blobs onto a lined baking tray, then bake for 1½ hours until firm but not browned. Turn off the oven and leave to cool in the oven for a further oven, then peel off and store in airtight containers until needed.
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 large strawberries, finely sliced
- Pre-heat the oven to 100°C. Dust a baking tray with icing sugar and lay the strawberries out on the sugar. Pop in the oven for about half an hour, until the strawberries are slightly shrivelled and sticky. When cooled peel off the tray gently.
- Put a small pan over a high heat and add the almonds. Shake them around for a couple of minute until toasted all over.
- Add the sugar, a pinch of salt and a tiny splash of water. Keep tossing the mix around in the pan until the sugar starts to turn golden brown, then turn out onto a ceramic plate to cool.
- Place the strawberry compote in the bottom of a serving dish (a nice glass one would be traditional, try and use a prettier one than mine). Finely slice the last 2 strawberries, top with a small twist of black pepper and stir into the puree.
- Spoon the cream over the strawberries. Top this with the amaretti biscuits.
- Arrange the meringues on the top, and scatter over the almonds and dried strawberry slices. Serve with bunting.