History of Trifle
or Pudding, Tipsy Squire, Tipsy Hedgehog, Tipsy
Parson, and Tipsy Squire
Trifle (TRI-fuhl) - The word "trifle" comes from the old French term "trufle," and literally means something whimsical or of little consequence. A proper English trifle is made with real egg custard poured over sponge cake soaked in fruit and sherry and topped with whipped cream.
The English call versions of this cake a Tipsy Cake or Pudding, Tipsy Squire, and Tipsy Hedgehog. It was also known as Tipsy Parson and Tipsy Squire in America. The difference between this cakes and the original trifle is that these were all made with dried cake, rather than fresh.
The first trifles were very much like Fools (an old confection of pureed fruit mixed with cream), and the two terms were used almost interchangeably for many years. Many puddings evolved as a way of using up leftovers and trifle originated as a way to use stale cake. The English Trifle is a close cousin of an Italian version called "Zuppa Ingles" (English Soup), and also seems distantly related to a Spanish dessert called "Bizcocho Borracho."
1751 - In the 4th edition of Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, the trifle is recognizable, though there's still no fruit:
1796 - Prior to the cookbook called American Cookery: Or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake, by Amelia Simmons, colonists in America were still relying on cookery books published and/or written in England. This was the first cookbook authored by an American and published in the United States. Although Simmons had many English recipes in this collection, it is the first book to introduce native resources--cranberries and corn products, for example--into the cooking repertoire. In this cookbook, Amelia Simmons describes a trifle:
1861 - Oliver Wendell Holmes, American author, waxed positively poetic about the dessert, calling it:
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