Make an al fresco feast an occasion and finish it in style with Philippa Davis' trifle opera cake jars with amaretto

With country house opera postponed or cancelled, put on a picnic worthy of Glyndebourne’s lawns at home. Don your finery, select a family member to provide the entertainment and indulge in a pud worthy of the setting. Philippa Davis’ trifle opera cake jars with amaretto is a fun – and appropiate – play on a gâteau opéra.

For the perfect main course to your al fresco feast, try pasta alla Norma. This appropiately operatic supper is named for Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma. Or to incorporate game into your picnic, venison salad niçoise puts a game spin on a classic.


This fun dessert is a play on a gâteau opéra, a cake traditionally made of layers of almond sponge, coffee and chocolate.

Serves 6

  • 100g almonds
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee mixed with 1 dsp hot water
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

To assemble

  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 300g strawberries, tops removed sliced into 0.5cm pieces
  • 6 tbsp amaretto or almond liqueur
  • 6 (300g-400g) jam jars with lids

Preheat oven to 170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5.

Line two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.

In a food processor, blitz the almonds until fine then add the butter, flour, bicarb, sugar, eggs and essence; blend until smooth.

Place half the batter in one cake tin.

Mix the dissolved coffee and coco powder with the rest of the batter then spoon into the other cake tin.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean, then cool in the tin.

To assemble, whip the cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until stiff.

Slice the cake into 2cm slithers.

In the jar, layer cream, strawberries, almond cake then cream, strawberries, chocolate cake. Top with cream and strawberries then spoon over 1 tablespoon liqueur.

Screw the lid on and keep cool until serving.