Fit for a Queen? The cheat’s guide to making the platinum jubilee trifle

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Tim adds lemon juice to his coulis

Early adopters of the new platinum jubilee pudding – a competition-winning lemon swiss roll and amaretti trifle – were quick to point out what an enormous arse-ache it was. The recipe calls for 11 eggs and more than a litre of whipped cream. It requires you to make your own amaretti biscuits and lemon curd from scratch. Basically, if you fancied making this mega-trifle for a jubilee-weekend party, it’s too late – you should have started already.

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But the recipe’s author, Jemma Melvin, insisted from the beginning that certain shortcuts were perfectly acceptable. You didn’t have to make St Clement’s jelly from gelatine leaves; you could substitute a packet of lemon jelly. In a pinch, shop-bought lemon curd would serve. So how quickly can you slap this pudding together in an emergency? I decided to find out.

Melvin’s abbreviated version requires you to make just two things from scratch: the swiss roll and a mandarin orange coulis. Everything else is shopping. But this proves difficult in itself. I struggled to locate arrowroot and the supermarket was out of lemon jelly, so I got lime. I had to go to two places to find ready-made custard, suggesting I’m not the only person out there trying to make this trifle in a hurry.

Tim adds lemon juice to his coulis. Photograph: Anselm Ebulue/The Guardian

Once home, I prioritise tasks, although my first priority should have been reading the recipe all the way through. I start by making the swiss roll, something I’ve never done. The batter looks thin and unpromising. While it’s in the oven, I begin reducing some tinned mandarin oranges with sugar. In hindsight I should have started with the jelly.

I’m not practiced at rolling cake: you’re supposed to pre-roll it while it’s warm, and then unroll it for filling. But on the second roll the sponge cracks, and the lemon curd oozes out of the sides. I have to remind myself it doesn’t matter what it looks like – it’s will be at the bottom of a trifle.

An attempt at laying the sponge on some sugar prior to rolling
An attempt at laying the sponge on some sugar prior to rolling. Photograph: Anselm Ebulue/The Guardian

I attempt to thicken the coulis, but the recipe includes the bewildering instruction “slake the arrowroot”. I add water to the white powder and wait, thinking: maybe it will slake itself. Did it? I don’t know. Nothing dramatic occurs as a result of its addition. Never mind, I think. It’s assembly time.

Slices of distressed swiss roll form the base. Then comes jelly. Then you are meant to pause for three hours while this layer sets. I don’t have time, so I improvise: an inch-deep barrier seal of whipped double cream, enough to support a lake of custard and a floating tier of amaretti biscuits straight from the bag. After that, the gloopy coulis. More whipped cream follows, but I’ve already used so much that I have to run out and buy more.

Tim adds some white chocolate to the almost completed trifle
Tim adds some white chocolate to the almost completed trifle. Photograph: Anselm Ebulue/The Guardian

I skip the elaborate “jewelled chocolate bark” topping, in favour of some crushed, lightly thrown amaretti biscuits, a handful of mixed peel, followed by a final (and in retrospect, unnecessary and disgusting) sprinkling of white chocolate shards. The result – the work of two hours, and enough to feed 20 – is so heavy I can barely lift it.

But I’ll tell you what: after a couple of hours in the fridge it is absolutely delicious, and the lime jelly is a real innovation. I might have got similar results if I had just thrown my shopping bag down a flight of stairs and then tipped the contents into a bowl, but I doubt the Queen would approve.

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