Delia’s Classic Christmas


Christmas has officially started for me with Delia’s Classic Christmas on TV which aired on the first day of December. In a world full of Nigellas and Jamies, however uncool this may sound, I absolutely revelled in Delia’s classic and far more achievable Christmas offering. Maybe it’s the recession, but this year, Delia seems to me to suit the mood of the times perfectly. While Nigella sells us a vision of aspiration and  flamboyance, dear old Delia is my kind of down-to-earth.

Now Delia lost her way with her Delia Cheats series, but there she was on Tuesday on our screens, steering us through the minefield of timings and planning in the hectic weeks before Christmas Day; the key, of course, being “to prepare as much as possible in advance”. She showed us the freezer in her shed, packed full of stuffing, and mince pies, and a whole host of Christmas treats.

Delia treated us to such Christmas classics as traditional Christmas pudding and cake,  a glossily bronzed turkey with all the trimmings, bread sauce and cranberry and orange relish. My favourite was a gorgeous panettone trifle (recipe below). I’m going to have a Delia Christmas this year, for sure.

Delia’s Panettone Trifle


150g/5oz panettone
75g/2¾oz organic dried apricots, cut into 4
75g/2¾oz raisins
200ml/7fl oz marsala wine
For the custard and topping
5 free-range egg yolks
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 dessertspoon cornflour
150ml/5fl oz marsala wine
600ml/1 pint 1½fl oz double cream
50g/2oz toasted flaked almonds


Equipment and preparation: A 1.75 litre/3 pints glass bowl.

First of all, put the apricots and raisins in a small saucepan with 150ml/5fl oz of the marsala. Bring up to simmering point, then take off the heat and leave to soak for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the panettone into slices about 2cm/1in thick, then cut these down to about 4cm/1½in pieces and place them in the bowl.

After that strain the cooled soaked fruit over a jug and add enough marsala to make the liquid up to 150ml/5fl oz. Then sprinkle the marsala evenly over the panettone, followed by the fruit. Leave to one side so the panettone can soak up all the juices, and tip the bowl from time to time to make sure there are no little pools of liquid in the bowl.

To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a medium bowl. Then place 350ml/12¼oz of the cream and the marsala in a saucepan and, over a gentle heat, bring up to simmering point, then, whisking the egg mixture all of the time with one hand, gradually pour the hot cream back into the bowl with the egg mixture. Now quickly pour the whole lot back to the saucepan, using a rubber spatula. Whisk over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble and thicken (don’t worry, it won’t curdle – if it does look at all grainy, it will become smooth again when whisked off the heat).

Let the custard get quite cold then pour it over the fruit and panettone. Then whip the remaining cream to the floppy stage (being careful not to make it too stiff) and spoon it all over the custard. Cover and chill till needed, sprinkling over the toasted almonds just before serving.


17 responses »

  1. I agree, there was something about the program which was very very this year’s Christmas, and very welcome too. As for the trifle, it does sound enticing, but her classic trifle is one of the great pleasures of Christmas.

  2. I thought the Panettone trifle looked great too. Thank you so much for writing out the recipe – I should have done it too; but didn’t realise the BBC weren’t going to publish this one. As I live in France, we don’t get to use the I player thingy either. Merci et joyeux noel.

  3. So glad someone else appreciates Delia’s old fashioned approach as much as I did. I didn’t catch the show and am so disappointed now that i missed it having read this post

  4. Oh yes, there’s nothing like a good old christmas cookery programme to get you in the mood! This was great TV viewing – go Delia!

  5. i missed the programme too, so thanks for posting that delicious sounding panettone trifle – think i’ll be giving it a go this christmas

  6. oh it was so good to see Delia on TV again with all her seasonal advice – this was proper Delia – no more cheat’s nonsense. I agree she lost her way with that and I was thrilled to see the old delia back!

  7. excellent stuff. I’ve been searching for the recipe. Now to find the pannetone, methinks the local coop is going to come up short!

  8. We made this for Christmas dinner. Looked wonderful but tasted far too strongly of marsala! Did I use the wrong marsala? Was it too dry? Did anyone else try it?

  9. Yes, I did it too. But because Marsala was impossible to find here in France, I used Amaretto liqueur and only in the fruit/pannetone part not the custard (whisper it, but you can get fantastic ready made stuff here…). It was delicious and the Amaretto went well with the pannetone.

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  11. Pingback: Delias Panatone Trifle | Sheffield Pampered Chef

  12. I ran a restaurant in Spain last year and used Delia’s recipe. I used an orange flavoured liquer instead of Marsala. It was Christmas day and i received rave responses from my diners.

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