My dear Mum always impressed upon my Little Sister and me that we should never, ever cheat.
She didn’t use that obvious
argument - “cheats never prosper” - possibly because, let’s face it, we can all think of people who have done pretty well out of their cheating. No, she cleverly used an argument which was, well, unarguable if you know what I mean. There
was no point in cheating, she would tell us, because at the end of the day, even if you were never found out, you would know that you had cheated and would be able to take absolutely no pleasure in it. Point made, dear Mum.
As a result, I can honestly say I have never cheated. Not at cards, not at exams, certainly not at love. There you have it: Mother Knows Best.
So when I decided that a good way of celebrating the Platinum Jubilee was by making Jemma Melvin’s prize-winning pud, that super-duper lemon and amaretti trifle, I knew that, in the interests of time and sanity, I would
have to make a cheat’s version. How could I possibly square that with my dear mum’s admonition? The answer, I decided, was to be absolutely upfront about my cheating, not for a second to pass my pud off as anything other than a Simply Glorious
Jubilee Cheat. I mean, I’m pretty sure Her Maj didn’t really take tea with Paddington Bear…
So I bought all the ingredients in advance and enrolled
my Little Sister in a joint endeavour. She was well up, for it, bless her, I knew she would be. Nor did I have to worry about capturing every cheating move on film, as my Little Sister’s fella was there with his camera, recording every moment as requested.
I was a little worried about finding a suitably large receptacle - until I remembered the rather beautiful bowl I was presented with when I retired exactly ten years ago. It seemed appropriate, somehow.
First step - the lemon curd Swiss roll. I bought it from Marks and Spencer’s (other food stores could almost certainly oblige.) We carefully cut it into slices and my Little Sister tried to line the sides of the bowl
with it. It was a trifle (if you’ll excuse the pun) soft and squidgy and there was (surprise, surprise) one slice left, which we shared between us. Just to make sure it tasted okay, you understand. At this point, my Little Sister consulted the the recipe
which said that any slices of Swiss roll left over should be used to cover the bottom of the bowl. Too late now, we mourned, licking our lemony fingers.
already dissolved the jelly cubes in boiling water - I’d bought an orange jelly and a lemon jelly and mixed them together to mimic St Clement’s jelly. I wasn’t sure what a St Clements jelly was made of but based my purchase on that ancient
nursery rhyme: “Oranges and lemons / say the bells of St Clements…” It was a slightly strange colour but it tasted okay (yes, we had a sneaky spoonful, just to check..) We had to wait for the jelly to cool down before we poured it over the
sponge slices - which is when we had our first disappointment as the Swiss roll kind of disintegrated in the jelly. A major feature of Jemma’s super pud, you may recall, was the artistic swirls of sponge around the base of the bowl. Move on, we told
ourselves, no point in crying over sloppy sponge…
We knew the jelly would take a long time to set so we, in our turn, set about tempering white chocolate
for those impressive shards that topped Jemma’s pudding. I’d bought Green & Black’s chocolate which was probably an extravagance too far but was the only white chocolate I could find at the time. It tasted fine too - my Little Sister
and I broke off a piece each before we started tempering. If that is, indeed, what we did. Spreading out the melted chocolate onto greaseproof paper was satisfying - we hadn’t been able to find any mixed peel in the shops so we used hundreds and thousands
instead to sprinkle on top. Had we spread it thinly enough? Would it snap into elegant shards? We decided that Time Would Surely Tell and found space for it in the fridge, perching it precariously on top of the jelly and Swiss roll mixture.
It was the next morning before we could return to our culinary efforts - the jelly took that long to set. However we simply flew through the next steps. We couldn’t
use amaretti biscuits because one of our guests has a nut allergy so I’d bought ginger nuts which, coincidentally, were the favourite biscuits of my childhood. While my brother-in-law dutifully crunched biscuits with a rolling pin, my Little Sister and
I made ourselves a cup of coffee in which to dunk a ginger biscuit (or two) to remind ourselves how very delicious they are.
The next step, according to
the recipe, was a “mandarin coulis” - we simply spooned two tins of drained mandarins onto the top of the layer of crumbed ginger biscuits. Two tins of Ambrosia custard followed (my brother-in-law, who hates custard, shuddered at every spoonful)
and my sister and I took turns at whipping the cream. We were a bit worried that we might whip it too much, being basically kind people not given to whipping anyone or anything. Over the top of the custard it went - our pudding was nearly finished.
At this point it could all have gone horribly wrong. If the chocolate wouldn’t snap into perfectly imperfect shards we would just have an ordinary looking trifle to
present to our party.It would probably taste okay - it simply wouldn’t look so, well, magnificent.
I leave you to decide, dear reader, based on the
photo above. My Little Sister and I carried our Jubilee Trifle out to our assembled guests to the tune of Sweet Caroline - “so good, so good, SO good,” we carolled, triumphantly.
We may have cheated - but we had SUCH fun in the making of it.
And, yes, it tasted SO good! (though I say so myself, as shouldn’t…)