April marks both the birth month and the death month of one of English literature’s most prolific personalities; William Shakespeare. In a tribute to the Bard, we’ve already shared a pear pie recipe, inspired by a speech given by one of his characters in the Merry Wives of Windsor. Today, we’re turning our attention to another dessert; the strawberry trifle.
Strawberries & Shakespeare
While there’s no mention of a strawberry trifle in Shakespeare’s works, he does mention strawberries multiple times. In Richard III, for instance, Richard asks the Bishop of Ely for strawberries from the Bishop’s garden:
“My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
I saw good strawberries in your garden there;
I do beseech you, send for some of them!”
In Henry VI, he also mentions strawberries saying
“The strawberry grows underneath the nettle;
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour’d by fruit of baser quality.”
So, we see that Shakespeare had a bit of a liking for strawberries; the actual fruit and their use as a metaphor. Using these clues, we decided that strawberries at that time would either be eaten fresh or fashioned into a dessert. One of the most popular British desserts today is the strawberry trifle – so it seemed like a perfect fit to celebrate the Bard.
The Strawberry Trifle
The trifle can be traced back to Thomas Dawson’s 1585 cookbook ‘The Good Huswifes Jewell’, so its highly likely that trifles graced the table at some feasts Shakespeare attended.
The trifle combines fruit, a layer of sponge fingers or sponge cake, wine and custard. It can also be topped with whipped cream.
Here’s an easy recipe for a strawberry trifle; enjoy it for dessert after a British meal or as a sweet snack while your reread ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’