Tangelo, mascarpone & coconut trifle

This trifle was supposed to be a tangelo sponge cake sandwiched with mascarpone cream and tangelo curd, until I had a cake fail. The cake emerged from the oven with a slightly soggy bottom and minimal rise; Mary Berry would not have been impressed.

But what the tangelo sponge cake lacked in good looks it made up for in tasting delicious. So as the saying goes, when life hands you tangelos – make trifle. So I did. And it was pretty ridiculously great – arguably better than the cake.  

My recipe for tangelo curd makes more than you need for the trifle but not more than you need in your life. Spread it on toast. Dollop it on Greek yoghurt. Eat it by the spoonful. You won’t regret making extra tangelo curd, I promise you.

Planning ahead tips: the sponge cake can be made the day before you put together the trifle and the tangelo curd will keep in the fridge for about 10 days.

Tangelo, mascarpone & coconut trifle

For the tangelo curd:

tangelos 3

sugar 1 cup

butter 200g, cut into cubes

free range eggs 4

equipment: a double boiler

Set up a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over medium-sized saucepan that is 1/3 full of simmering water. The bowl should be large enough so that it sits on the saucepan rim with enough space underneath so that the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water directly. Alternatively, you could try placing a medium-sized saucepan over a larger one. 

Finely grate the zest of the tangelos, then cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Place the juice and zest into a smallish saucepan with the sugar and butter cubes and bring to the boil, stirring the whole time.

Crack the eggs into the glass bowl that you are going to sit over the saucepan of simmering water, and beat the eggs well with a whisk. Slowly pour the hot tangelo buttery liquid into the eggs in a steady stream, whisking the entire time.

Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and grab your whisk. Stir the mixture until it starts to thicken. This will take quite a while, maybe 20 minutes, but if it’s taking longer than this then turn up the heat to ensure that the water underneath is still simmering. The mixture will thicken up a lot as it cools but you want to get to the stage where the whisk is leaving trails in the curd as you stir it. Leave to cool, then refrigerate.

For the tangelo sponge:

free range eggs 6, separated

caster sugar 2/3 cup

desiccated coconut 1 & 1/2 cups

baking powder 1/2 teapsoon (ensure it’s gluten free if that’s a concern)

pinch of salt

finely grated zest and juice of a tangelo

Preheat oven to 170°C on a fan bake setting and line a loose-bottomed 26cm cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides. Alternatively you could bake the sponge in a square baking tray of around the same proportions. 

Separate the eggs; placing the yolks in a bowl big enough to contain all of the cake batter and the whites into a large bowl for beating. 

Using an electric mixer, beat the yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar until pale and thick; this will take about 5 minutes. Add the coconut, baking powder, salt, and tangelo zest to the yolks along with the tangelo juice and gently combine.

Wash the egg yolk mixture off your beaters and use these to beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are thick and glossy.

Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the yolk mixture and use a metal spoon to gently fold it through; add the remaining egg white in two lots, trying to keep as much air in the mixture as you can. 

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake has browned on top and when you gently shake the tin the centre of the cake doesn’t jiggle. Place the cake on a cooling rack and leave to cool in its tin.

For the toasted coconut topping:

toasted coconut chips or long thread coconut 1/2 cup

Once you’ve removed the cake from the oven, place the coconut chips into a small baking dish and toast them in the oven. Give the coconut a stir every minute or so to make sure it browns evenly; it will take about 3-4 minutes. Once toasted and browned, remove from oven and leave to cool. 

For the mascarpone cream:

cream 300ml

mascarpone 200g

Whisk the cream until its only barely whipped, take care not to over beat – you want soft billowy folds of cream. Add the mascarpone to the cream in 2 or 3 lots, whisking until smooth between each addition. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the trifle. 

Putting it all together:

zest and juice of a tangelo

tangelo curd 1 & 1/2 cups (set a little aside for decorating top of the trifle)

mascarpone cream

tangelo sponge

toasted coconut chips or long thread coconut 

Take the cooled sponge cake and break into rough chunks. Put half of the cake into your trifle serving bowl and drizzle with half of the tangelo juice. Generously dollop over about half of tangelo curd and spread half of the mascarpone cream on top. Layer the remaining cake on top, drizzle with juice, dollop with curd (leaving a little aside for decorating the top) and finish with a layer of the rest of the mascarpone cream. Dollop and drizzle more tangelo curd on top and sprinkle with the toasted coconut chips and tangelo zest. Refrigerate until ready to eat. 


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