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Rhubarb & Lemon Thyme Custard Trifle

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

by Candice Brown from Happy Cooking (Ebury Press)

Rhubarb and custard anything for me please. The flavour, the smell, the gin. So how about getting together with some friends, having a good chat and sharing this stunning trifle with a big glass of gin and tonic, topped up with loads of ice, fruit and fancy paper straws? We need to talk more, reach out, share food, share drinks and share problems. It doesn’t have to be with trifle, but it helps. If you can’t get in-season rhubarb, try raspberries and strawberries or blueberries, or think ahead and freeze some rhubarb while it’s in season.



2 large eggs (or 3 medium)

60g golden caster sugar, plus extra for dusting

60g self-raising flour, sifted finely grated zest of 1 orange

3 tbsp raspberry curd or jam


200ml double cream

200ml whole milk

zest of 1 lemon

small bunch of fresh lemon thyme

20g golden caster sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp cornflour


Preheat the oven to 170°C fan (190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5) and grease and line a 20 x 24cm Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.

Put the eggs and caster sugar in a mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat for 5–6 minutes until doubled in volume and the mixture is at ribbon stage – when you lift the whisk out, the mixture should fall back in ribbons that sit on top of the mix for a few seconds.

Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flour in 3 batches, making sure it is all incorporated. Add the orange zest with the last batch of flour. Pour into the prepared tin and spread evenly using a spatula.

Bake for 12–15 minutes until just firm and light golden brown.

Place a piece of greaseproof paper on a work surface and sprinkle over some caster sugar. Quickly but carefully turn the sponge out on to the sugared paper. Peel away the greaseproof paper used to line the tin. Make an indent in the sponge about 2.5cm in, and then fold the edge of the sugared paper over the sponge at one short end, then roll up the cake with the paper inside. Leave the rolled cake to cool completely.

Once cooled, gently unroll and spread over the raspberry curd or jam. Roll back up so you have your filled Swiss roll. Set aside.

To make the custard, stir together the cream, milk and lemon zest in a medium heavy-based saucepan, then drop in the lemon thyme.

Set over a low-medium heat and stir until just boiling.


600g rhubarb, chopped into 3–4cm pieces

50ml rhubarb gin (or use straight gin with, or without, a drop pf rhubarb essence)

120g golden caster sugar

5 sheets of leaf gelatine

200g raspberries


400ml double cream

white chocolate

sprigs of fresh lemon thyme

Mix the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a bowl to make a smooth paste and whisk until the mixture starts to pale. Pour in the hot milk and cream in a slow steady stream and stir continuously until it’s all incorporated. Pour the custard back into the saucepan over a low heat and stir until it is thick and smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken further.

To make the jelly, put the rhubarb, rhubarb gin, sugar and the 75ml water in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 10–15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb has started to soften.

Place the gelatine in a dish of cold water for 4–5 minutes to soak and soften. Once soft, squeeze out the excess water, add to the rhubarb and stir until dissolved.

To assemble the trifle, slice the Swiss roll into 8 pieces about 4cm thick. Place the swirls of Swiss roll in the bottom of a trifle bowl preferably glass if you have one).

Pour over the rhubarb jelly and drop in the raspberries. Transfer to the fridge to set.

Spoon over the lemon thyme custard, discarding the sprigs of lemon thyme.

Whip the double cream until soft peaks form, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe small swirls on top of the custard with the central one slightly higher. Grate over some white chocolate and finish with a sprinkling of lemon thyme leaves.

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