Australian Woman’s Weekly Trifle for All Occasions

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic
A small story from my childhood that I have reflected on as an adult - I'm sure this is where my hoarding addiction for sentimental items comes from.

Submitted: October 22, 2016

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Submitted: October 22, 2016



On an early summery Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother and I made a trifle from the recipe book she has had for ten years. Mummy always makes it in a huge, heavy, octagon crystal bowl. All of the sides go straight up and down but curve at the bottom. It’s bigger than my head, I swear! Every Boxing Day we get to eat trifle out of the bowl and every day until its gone (it doesn’t take long). Trifle is my favourite part of Christmas lunch.

For those of you who don’t know what a trifle is or the way my mummy made it, this is how it’s compiled:

It starts with a vanilla sponge cake. We bought it at the supermarket with the box of jelly and cans of peaches before we started making it. The shelves in the supermarket are about three stories high and I love looking at all of the things you can buy. When I’m rich I’m going to buy all of the expensive ingredients because my mum always says no. I’m going to make the best cakes ever with the expensive chocolate and the expensive cocoa powder and those small bags of flour…but I’m going to make so many cakes that I use a 2kg bag of flour a day. I can’t wait.

When you get home from the supermarket you have to prepare all of the ingredients, like cutting the vanilla sponge cake into smaller squares so it’s easier to eat and so the jelly can absorb into the sponge better. Mummy always cuts the sponge so well. I’m allowed to cut it when I’m older, but I get to spread it in the bottom of the bowl evenly. It looks so fluffy.

Then comes the jelly that we prepared earlier, but only half because we need to share it between the layers. That also comes from a packet that is made with hot and cold water, then stir until it cools down. We drizzle that over the sponge slowly so we don’t drown the cake and make it super soggy. It’s fun to watch the white sponge cake change to a bright red because we bought raspberry flavor because it’s my favourite. Sometimes there are white corners that stick out that we spoon jelly over so it’s all red. Then we refrigerate for an hour until set.

Next are the canned peaches (because we didn’t have enough money for the fresh ones) that we strained; just enough to cover the jelly sponge. Just enough orange cut perfectly into slices of eighths. A few peaks of red stick out but we can’t spoon peaches over them so they stay sticking out.

We do have custard though. I wish we didn’t have custard. It tastes gross and feels gross in my mouth because it’s so thick. Luckily it’s really fun to make. Mummy lets me mix it together and it’s so hard to move the spoon through. I like stabbing it with the wooden spoon. We make it from scratch because it’s best to make everything you can from scratch. It’s also cheaper. So that fills in all of the gaps that the peaches couldn’t. It feels weird between my teeth, like puke. We need to put it in the fridge again.

Now, while the custard is setting, comes the cream that I got to whip with the electric hand beater! I’m working on making it so the cream doesn’t spray everywhere. Sometimes my arm gets tired and I get bored but the best bit is when mummy slowly sprinkles the icing sugar in and also a little bit of vanilla essence so the cream goes from one hundred percent white to cream colour. The trifle is ready for us to plop the cream on and, once again, spread evenly.

We repeat all of that again and then it’s done for the day. By this point it’s super heavy so mummy gets me to open the fridge door while she transports it from the bench to the second shelf. Sometimes she tells me to quickly make space so we can fit it inside.

As she lifts the shiny, stuffed bowl into the fridge it slips through her palms and fingers. The weight of the ingredients pulls the crystal bowl bottom to the ground where it shatters into three pieces and hundreds of little splinters. Even though the maroon carpet is fluffy, it wasn’t cushiony enough to save the bowl.

I can’t help but turn bright red. Instantly I burst into tears.


“Why are you crying? Baby, you don’t need to cry.”

“I loved that bowl! Didn’t you get that when you married Daddy?”

“Yes, it was a wedding present from, uh, the Ching’s I think. It was old. We can get a new one.”

“I don’t want a new one. Can we fix it?”

“No. Don’t worry. I didn’t really like the Ching’s anyway. They were such snobs.”

“But I loved it!”

I don’t care. That was the last thing from our marriage so I don’t care. You shouldn’t either. We can get a new bowl that’s bigger and better.”


But I loved that bowl and will never forget it.

© Copyright 2019 G. E. Davies. All rights reserved.

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