Maggie Beer's peach and berry trifle

SILLY SEASONAL: Maggie Beer's peach and berry jelly trifle is bound to be a Christmas Day crowd pleaser.
SILLY SEASONAL: Maggie Beer's peach and berry jelly trifle is bound to be a Christmas Day crowd pleaser.

I have loved trifle since I was a child. Was it being allowed to eat down to the bottom of the bowl where I'd find the sherry-soaked cake, or was it the jelly and fruit? Whatever it was, I've never tired of eating trifle.

This version is a bit fancy, I grant you, but it's easily within the province of the home cook. And though it was designed to use leftovers, it's a dessert I'd pull out for special occasions, too. I like to set this down in the centre of my table so everyone can help themselves - a much more connected way to eat. However, you could always deconstruct the large trifle and make individual serves in parfait glasses.

You will need to make the jelly the day before you assemble the trifle to allow time for it to set, then refrigerate the trifle overnight so the flavours can meld.

40g unsalted butter
6 yellow peaches, cut in half, pitted
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
12 sponge finger (savoiardi) biscuits
½ cup (125ml) dry sherry (I use Oloroso)
500g raspberries or blackberries (depending on the juice used for the jelly)
Pouring cream, to serve (optional)
1½ cups (375ml) unsweetened raspberry or blackberry juice (available from delicatessens)
60g castor sugar
3½ x 2g gold-strength gelatine leaves
2 cups (500ml) cold water
4 free-range egg yolks
¼ cup (55g) castor sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2½⁄ tbsp dry sherry (I use Oloroso)
200ml thickened cream

1. To make the jelly, place the juice and castor sugar in a heavy-based saucepan, then slowly bring to the boil over low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, put the gelatine leaves into a bowl with the cold water, then leave to soften for 5 minutes. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine leaves and drop them into the just-warm juice mixture, then stir well until the gelatine has dissolved. Pour into a 2 cup (500 ml)-capacity shallow dish (about 18cm x 12cm) and refrigerate overnight to set. Cut into bite-sized cubes just before assembling the trifle.

3. Preheat the oven to 220C fan-forced (240C conventional).

4. Place the butter in a baking dish and heat in the oven until it has melted and is sizzling. Add the peaches, cut-side up, and sprinkle with the brown sugar, then bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through (the cooking time will depend on the ripeness of the peaches).

5.Set aside until cool enough to handle, then carefully peel off and discard the skins and slice the flesh.

6. To make the sabayon, combine the egg yolks, castor sugar and lemon zest in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Using hand-held electric beaters, whisk the mixture until thick and almost tripled in volume - when the beaters are lifted the mixture should hold a ribbon over the surface.

7. Continuing to whisk, add a tablespoonful of the sherry at a time, whisking after each addition until the mixture is thick. Cover closely with plastic film and chill in the fridge. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form, then gently fold through the egg yolk mixture.

8. Lay the sponge fingers in the base of a 4 litre-capacity glass serving bowl. Spoon over the sherry, then spread with half of the sabayon. Add the peach slices, then top with the jelly. Top the final layer with the remaining sabayon and finish with the berries. Cover loosely with plastic film and refrigerate overnight for the flavours to meld.

9. Spoon the trifle into bowls, then serve with cream alongside, if liked.

- Good Food