Trifle has been with us since the 16th century in one form or another. The name is thought to come from the French word ‘trufle’ which means something whimsical or of little consequence. Trifle’s popularity over hundreds of years shows however that it is anything but inconsequential.
Trifle evolved from a ‘fool’ dessert. Jelly was introduced to the recipe in the mid-1800s, and we all know trifle today to be a delicious, universally popular dessert with layers of custard poured over sponge cake soaked in fruit (often in fruit jelly) and sherry (optional), all topped off with whipped cream.
The boozy element of trifle meant that forms of the dish are also known as ‘tipsy laird’ (in Scotland) and ‘tipsy cake’ in parts of the U.S.
Since many of us remember trifle from our childhood e.g. at birthday parties, it is often thought of as being a retro dish. Today, retro dishes like trifle are popular and much-enjoyed options for party food, partly because of the positive associations that we have with them from childhood, the fact that most guests like them, and also because of their gorgeous sugary decadence J What’s not to like?