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Gooseberry, Elderflower and Hazelnut Trifle

VegetarianContains Nuts

This wonderful combination of syrup-soaked hazelnut cake layered with poached gooseberries and elderflower custard makes a spectacular summer dessert that is well worth the effort!

Serves : 8
Prep : 30 minutes, plus cooling and chilling
Cook : 45 minutes




  • 30g shelled hazelnuts
  • A little butter, for greasing
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 20g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt



  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons elderflower cordial
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 600ml double cream



  • 1 small elderflower head, individual flowers picked carefully from the stems (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Top and tail the gooseberries and set them aside.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and put them into the preheated oven. Roast for 10 minutes (set a timer – it’s easy to forget), then remove them and tip them into a clean tea towel. Rub the hazelnuts inside the cloth to remove the papery brown skins, then leave them to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, poach the gooseberries. Put the sugar into a pan with 200ml water and set over a medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved and bring up to a gentle simmer. Add the gooseberries and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until just tender. Using a slotted spoon, lift the gooseberries out of their poaching liquid and put them into a small shallow bowl to cool. Put the poaching liquid back over the heat and simmer gently for 8–10 minutes, until syrupy. Draw off the heat, stir in the elderflower cordial and leave to cool.
  4. To make the cake, pulse the cooled hazelnuts to a fine powder using a mini-chopper or clean coffee grinder (avoid processing too much, or they may become oily and form a paste). Butter a 20cm cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until pale and tripled in volume. Sift over the flour and salt and sprinkle over the ground hazelnuts. Gently fold in the dry ingredients using a metal spoon, until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 25 minutes, until springy to the touch and slightly coming away around the edges. Leave to cool in the tin.
  5. Now make the custard. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour, cordial and sugar. Heat the double cream in a medium pan and bring just to the boil, then pour into the bowl and whisk everything together. Pour into a clean pan and stir gently over a low to medium heat for 5–6 minutes, until thickened. Strain into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
  6. Turn out the cake and cut it into 2cm-wide strips. Arrange half the cake fingers in a layer over the base of a glass serving dish, then drizzle over about 4 tablespoons of the poaching syrup, enough to moisten the cake nicely. Spread over half the gooseberries, then pour over half the cooled custard. Repeat the layers once more, then chill the trifle for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. Serve sprinkled with picked elderflowers, if you like.


Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK


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