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Warm pear and brandy winter trifle

Why keep all the trifle fun for summertime? This version will keep you warm during the winter months.

By Emma Knowles
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
  • Print
Why keep all the trifle fun for summertime? This winter version features roast pears layered with warm cake and a brandy-spiked sabayon. The cake and pears can be made a day ahead and warmed in the oven just before serving.


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 60 ml (½ cup) brandy
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground star anise
  • Coarsely chopped roasted almonds, to serve
Brandy-roasted pears
  • 6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 110 gm caster sugar
  • 50 ml brandy
  • Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1 orange
Pear cake
  • 200 gm (1⅓ cups) plain flour
  • 100 gm brown sugar
  • 100 gm caster sugar
  • ⅔ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 140 gm butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • Brandy, for brushing


  • 1
    For brandy-roasted pears, preheat oven to 180C. Stir pears with sugar, brandy, and orange rind and juice in a bowl to coat evenly. Spread in a roasting pan just large enough to hold pears in a single layer and roast on top rack of oven until tender and slightly caramelised (15-20 minutes).
  • 2
    For pear cake, butter a 20cm x 30cm cake tin or slice tray and line it with baking paper. Stir dry ingredients and a pinch of salt in a bowl to combine and make a well in the centre. Bring butter and 160 ml water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking until butter melts. Add to dry ingredients along with buttermilk, egg and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Pour into prepared tin, smooth top, then scatter pear slices on top. Bake on middle rack of oven until golden brown and centre springs back when lightly pressed (20-25 minutes). While still warm, brush cake with brandy.
  • 3
    To make the sabayon, whisk yolks, caster sugar, brandy, orange rind and juice, and spices in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water until thick and fluffy, and mixture holds a figure of eight (5-6 minutes). Transfer to an electric mixer and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch but not hot (4-5 minutes).
  • 4
    Cut or break cake into rough pieces and layer in serving bowls or glasses with roasted pears and pan juices and dollops of sabayon. Scatter with almonds and serve warm.