The Dessert Paul Hollywood Says Is Best For Beginner Bakers

While "The Great British Baking Show" judge Paul Hollywood can't help out competitors on his show, he does have some advice for novice bakers: He doesn't think they should start out with too ambitious of a baking project. Instead, he recommends they tackle one of the most quintessential British desserts of all time. As he explained to Tasting Table, the trifle is great for beginner bakers. "And you think, 'Where's the baking in that?' [But there's] actually the sponges that go into the base for the trifle," Hollywood said.

The trifle is a wonderful opportunity to practice one of the most important baking skills — making a sponge cake. You can bake it in a simple sheet pan, and the resulting cake is usually cut into pieces to fit your serving bowl, so there's no need to worry about whether the cake hasn't risen enough or if it seems a bit uneven.

A versatile British treat

While the baking aspect of a trifle may seem relatively simple, the dessert itself is a show-stopper. A traditional trifle features several components in addition to the cake pieces: fruit compote or jam, custard, whipped cream, and sometimes sherry. It's remarkable how festive this dessert looks, making it a great closer for any holiday or celebratory meal. 

This layered treat is remarkably versatile as well. You can change up your choice of layers by replacing fruit jam or compote with a curd. As Paul Hollywood explained to Tasting Table, "You can play with lemon curd, you can use meringue in there, sponge, and then top it with more lemon cream onto the top."  

Some like to make chocolate the star of the trifle. Hollywood is a fan of making a trifle styled after black forest cake with chocolate custard and cherries. You can switch up the baked goods used in your trifle, making brownies or blondies instead of sponge cake. No matter what ingredients you choose, your trifle is likely to impress your guests.