How could sweet, creamy layers of cake soaked in liqueur and topped with seasonal fruit and homemade custard be considered insignificant or frivolous?  But trifle it is.  But trifle it is not.

Perhaps it was the incongruity of the word association that threw me led me to experiment.  Or perhaps it was simply the preparation process.  With my components ready for assembly, I noticed how I had sliced up my chocolate loaf.  Like bread.  Slices of bread that were ready to make a sandwich.  So I mused, why not use slices of cake to make a sandwich?  A trifle sandwich.

And the rest, as they say, ….

It was all a bit of fun, but to be honest I do like my puddings a trifle more traditional.  But really, it only comes down to the assembly.  Same ingredients.  Different construction.

Less traditionally sandwiched, or classically layered in a serving dish, the combination of chocolate and orange were hard to beat.  The orange was injected through a delicate glazing of Grand Marnier over the cake, a caramelised orange sauce, plus fresh oranges.  The richness of the cake, the only chocolate offering, was sufficient to complement this orange trifecta.

I did take some liberty in the ingredients.  The more traditional vanilla sponge was swapped for a deliciously rich, chocolate pound cake.  But I think, if you want to celebrate a dessert, as exemplary of British desserts as the trifle, I think you can include your own twists.

{ Chocolate & orange trifle }

If you prefer the more classic styling of a trifle, simply follow the directions below.

* Ingredients *
Chocolate pound cake, recipe below
Grand Marnier
Caramelised oranges, recipe below
Vanilla custard, recipe below
Whipped cream, optional

* Directions *
Slice the chocolate pound cake and layer the bottom of glass serving bowl.  Brush over the Grand Marnier so it soaks into the cake.  Top with the caramelised oranges.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Top the cake and oranges with the vanilla custard.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, top with whipped cream.  Alternatively, you can create multiple layers of cake, orange and custard.  Just simply refrigerate as appropriate at each stage.

{ Caramelised Oranges } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
3 oranges
1/4 sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

* Directions *
Segment the oranges and set aside in a bowl.  Bring sugar and orange juice to the boil in a small saucepan until the mixture starts to darken.  Add Grand Marnier and remove from heat.  Pour syrup over the prepared oranges and set aside to cool.

{ Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake } recipe by Sur La Table’s, The Art & Soul of Baking

* Ingredients *
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 ounces) unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup (4 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

* Directions *
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and position an oven rack in the centre.  Lightly coat the pan with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray and fit it with parchment paper to extend up both long sides to the top of the pan.

Cream the butter and sugar:  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light – almost white- in color, 4 to 5 minutes.  You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results.  Scrape down the bowl with the spatula.

Add the eggs: In the small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth.  Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat to blend.  With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next.  About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then continue adding the eggs.  Scrape down the bowl again.

Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately: With the fine-mesh strainer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk to blend.  With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with flour mixture.  Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand if necessary.

Bake the cake:  Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.  When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.

{ Vanilla Custard } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
¾ cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

* Directions *
Prepare a bowl filled with ice and top the ice with another clean bowl.  Put to the side together with a fine sieve.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.  Set aside.  Gently heat the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan until small bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from the heat, and add ½ cup of the mixture to the eggs whisking together immediately.  When blended, add the egg mixture back to the milk over a low to medium heat.  Keep whisking as the mixture starts to thicken.  Be careful not to overheat the mixture or the eggs will curdle.  For accuracy, measure the temperature and remove from the heat when you reach 80C /176F.  Without delay, pour the hot custard through the sieve into the prepare bowl.  The ice will help cool down the custard and ensure it does not overheat.  Allow to cool, and then refrigerate.
Makes 1 ½ cups