Chefs' Recipes

Summer fruit trifle

With walnut sponge base, thyme and brandy custard and crown of raspberries, there's lots to love about this dessert.

  • 30 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus infusing, cooling
  • Serves 8
  • Print
Summer fruit trifle


  • 400 gm strawberries, quartered
  • 400 gm each raspberries and blueberries
  • To serve: crushed honeycomb confectionery (see note)
Thyme and brandy custard
  • 600 ml milk
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100 gm caster sugar
  • 10 ml brandy
Walnut sponge cake
  • 100 gm plain flour (2/3 cup)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150 gm liquid glucose
  • 100 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 125 ml milk (½ cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 gm brown sugar
  • 100 gm finely chopped walnuts


  • 1
    For thyme and brandy custard, bring milk and thyme to just below the simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, set aside to infuse (30 minutes). Whisk yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until thick and pale (4-5 minutes), then, whisking continuously, strain milk mixture over yolk mixture (discard thyme). Stir continuously over a saucepan of simmering water until mixture coats the back of a spoon thickly (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat, add brandy, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for walnut sponge cake, preheat oven to 170C. Sieve flour, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside. Stir glucose and butter in a saucepan over low heat to combine, add milk and remove from heat. Fold into flour mixture to combine and set aside. Whisk eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (3-4 minutes), fold in flour mixture, then walnuts. Spoon into a buttered 15cm x 20cm cake tin lined with baking paper and bake until a skewer withdraws clean (15-17 minutes). Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely. Tear coarsely into pieces and set aside.
  • 3
    Combine berries in a bowl, then divide half the berries among eight 300ml glass jars or serving glasses. Scatter over a layer of sponge, spoon over custard then repeat with remaining sponge and custard, finishing with a layer of berries. Refrigerate until required, scatter with honeycomb confectionery and serve.


Honeycomb confectionery is available from select confectionery shops.
This recipe is from the December 2011 issue of