It is always better to make the trifle 24 hours in advance to allow the sherry and brandy to soak well into the cake and permeate the rest of the ingredients.
Break up the cake into largish pieces in the bottom of a cut glass or other decorative bowl and dribble over the sherry/brandy mixture. Drain the tinned fruits, cut in half and arrange over the soaked cake. Spread with a generous layer of jam. You could use fresh fruits if you could get them, but the classic trifle would always use tinned.
For the patisserie crème, in a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar till smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the cornflour with a little of the milk to make a smooth paste then add that to the yolks and sugar. Heat the remains of the milk to just below boiling point then add to the yolk mixture, stirring well. Return this to the milk pan and heat gently for round 5 minutes, stirring all the time, until the sauce thickens. If you are using the cream, remove from the heat, cover and allow to cool. When it is quite cold spread it over the jam in the dish. Lightly whip the cream till it holds its shape in soft peaks, then spoon that over the patisserie crème. Cover and chill for 24 hours.
Remove from the fridge 1 hour before serving and sprinkle with the toasted flaked almonds.
If you want to make the trifle dairy-free use dairy-free spread when making the sponge cake, substitute soya or coconut milk for cow's milk, leave out the cream and use the second patisserie crème recipe. Make the patisserie crème as above with a dairy free milk. When it has thickened, take it off the heat. Whisk the one egg white till it holds its shape in soft peaks. Gradually stir/fold the egg white into the crème, return to the heat for a couple of minutes only, folding gently while it cooks slightly, then remove from the heat and cool.
When cold spread over the top of the fruit, cover and chill. As for the cream version, remove from the fridge an hour before you are ready to eat it and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.
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