Christmas Trifle

Dec 17, 2020

An airy and light cake that looks the part and tastes even better, this trifle brings together the perfect texture of sponge cake with the flavours of cardamom, orange flower water, oranges and cranberry. This festive dessert is pretty easy to put together, the most difficult thing about it being that you have to organize your time a bit and plan to start making this a day ahead from when you’ll be serving it. The order in which it comes together seems to be backwards, but in this scenario, it’s just the right one. 

This trifle is a true show-stopper with its showing layers of caramelized oranges and I think it would make for a lovely centerpiece on the Christmas table, but it really works on any occasion and even in the absence of one!

Caramelized Orange & Cranberry Trifle 

For the Labneh Whipped Cream:

225g/1 cup full-fat Greek Yoghurt

3 Tbsp honey

Seeds scraped from one vanilla pod

170g/3/4 cup heavy cream

Set a fine strainer over a bowl and line with several layers of cheesecloth, allowing them to overhang. Place the yoghurt into the cheesecloth-lined strainer and cover with the overhanging layers of cheesecloth. Place in the fridge for 12 hours, until thickened. 

Transfer labneh to a bowl, add the honey and the vanilla and mix well. With a mixer or whisk, beat heavy cream until you obtain stiff peaks. With the aid of a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the yoghurt mixture and incorporate slowly. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Caramelized Oranges:

4 oranges

250g sugar

150ml water

4-5 crushed cardamom pods

Using a paring knife, cut the ends off the top and bottom of the oranges. Then cut off the skin vertically, turning the orange as you go, being careful to remove all the pith. 

Slice each orange into 1/2 cm/1/8 in. rounds and place in a bowl, along with the juice. To make the caramel, put the sugar, water and crushed cardamom pods into a large saucepan allow it to become a dark amber colour. Do not stir and do not leave unattended, but it’s ok to swirl the pan from time to time. Take the saucepan off the heat and pour in the oranges along with the juice. Quickly coat the orange slices in the caramel, then pour everything on a large plate; move quickly otherwise the caramel will set too soon. Let the oranges cool, and then put them in the fridge to chill until using.

For the Sugared Cranberries & Syrup:

130g/1 cup cranberries

1 cup water

60g/5 Tbsp sugar

Finely grated zest from one orange

Extra sugar for coating

3 tsp orange blossom water

Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan set over low heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat, add the cranberries and the zest, stir and let infuse overnight or for at least 5 hours (stir at least 1-2 times). Strain liquid into a bowl, add the orange blossom water and mix (this is the syrup you’ll be using for the cake).

Place the reserved cranberries on a cooling rack or a large sieve set over a pan, in one layer, to let all the syrup drain off. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of the cranberries, then turn them and sprinkle with sugar again, so as to coat them evenly. Place a little more sugar in a pan or large plate, add the cranberries and toss to cover in sugar. 

For the cake:

120g/½ cup & 1½ Tbsp sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

120g/1 Cup flour, sifted 

Preheat the oven to 170C/338 F. Butter and flour a 20cm/8 in. round baking pan.

With the aid of a mixer, beat the eggs and the sugar until very fluffy and pale yellow, about 15 minutes on medium/high speed. Sift the flour on top of the egg mixture and with the aid of a spatula, fold it gently into the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.Turn off the oven but leave the cake inside (keep the door slightly open using a wooden spoon) for 10 minutes so it can cool down slowly. Remove the sponge cake from the oven, let it cool for 10 more minutes, then loosen around the edges with a knife, and flip it on a wire rack upside down (without the pan) to cool completely.

To assemble:

50g/1/4 cup chopped raw pistachios

When the cake is completely cooled, slice into two layers using a serrated knife. In a punch bowl or a round ceramic dish, spoon in one third of the cream filling, then place a first vertical layer of orange slices on the sides of the dish. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cranberries and 1/3 pistachio over the cream, then add the first layer of cake; drizzle with half of the syrup. Place a second vertical layer of orange slices on the sides of the dish, spoon another third of the cream filling and sprinkle with 1/4 of the cranberries and 1/3 pistachio and finally, place the second cake, drizzle with remaining syrup, spoon last third of cream on top, then scatter 1/2 of the cranberries along with 1/3 pistachios to decorate the top of the cake. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

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