The girls and I love to watch “The Great British Bake Off.” We enjoy the mix of drama and humor, getting to know the contestants, and learning something new about baking every episode. Most of all, we love the camaraderie in the tent and how the bakers are always willing to help each other. A baker on a different show—”Nailed It!”—best explained this type of competitive philosophy: “As a Hufflepuff, I want everyone to win by me winning.”
The girls and I also love the show “Derry Girls.” It has hilariously brilliant and insightful writing and the most amazing cast. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should! The cast made an appearance on “The Great British Bake Off” and we died laughing. Their Signature Challenge was to make a trifle and, after watching the episode, all I could think about was trifle. So the girls and I pretended we were in the tent (no timers, though!) and came up with this Gingerbread Eggnog Trifle. The heart of the trifle is a gingerbread cake recipe from my boss at the textbook publishing company I worked for once upon a time. It was a dream of a job, being immersed in literature from around the world, and Laurie was a dream of an editor. And, bonus, the editorial team loved to cook as much as we loved to read. This recipe is from Laurie’s grandmother, Mildred Barberg.
You can make the gingerbread a day or two ahead of time, but if you make it the same day you’re planning to put the trifle together, be sure to let it cool completely or you’ll end up with a disaster (*see Derry Girls episode).
To make the trifle, you need three parts to create the layers: gingerbread, pudding, and whipped cream. For the pudding, we used a 5.1-ounce package of instant vanilla pudding mix, but instead of milk, we used three cups of eggnog. Whisk for two minutes, then let the pudding sit in the refrigerator for five minutes. It firms up really quickly.
For the whipped cream, we added two tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla to two cups of heavy cream.
To assemble the trifle, break up the gingerbread cake and place a layer on the bottom of a trifle bowl or a glass bowl. Spread half of the pudding mixture on top, then spread half of the whipped cream on top of the pudding. Repeat. You can decorate your trifle with crumbled gingerbread, gingersnap cookies, cranberries rolled in sugar, or anything else that strikes your fancy. I like how Lexie and Lily arranged gingerbread men so they look like they’re doing a synchronized swim to “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Technically, you should let the trifle chill overnight in the refrigerator, or you can be like us and last for about an hour before digging in.
Mildred Barberg’s Gingerbread Cake (January 1934)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. baking soda
2-1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
(3) Add last:
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, well-beaten
Mix sugar, shortening, molasses. Add dry ingredients. Add 1 cup boiling water. Mix well. Add eggs to batter last.
Bake 30 mins in greased 9X13-in. cake pan at 350 degrees.