Why This Recipe Works
We wanted our recipe for classic trifle to produce a dessert with a delicate and creamy texture, never heavy or wet, the flavor a subtle balance of tart fruit, slightly astringent wine, toasty almonds, and suave, eggy custard. We hit upon the strategy of baking the custard in a very shallow layer so that the center would cook by means of the heat conducted through the bottom of the dish as well as through the sides. Thus were we able to obtain a thick, glossy, completely smooth custard with precisely the same consistency as homemade mayonnaise. As for the cake for our trifle recipe, we discovered that a delicate sponge cake like a genoise turned soggy and limp under the influence of sherry, berry juice, and custard. Much better was a drier, sturdier type of sponge cake, like a Savoy cake, which remained springy and just slightly chewy once the dessert was put together.