Desserts of the Decade: the 1980s

80s desserts collage

Destiny Foods has explored some of the most iconic desserts from the 1980s, with the beloved trifle, yummy tiramisu and classic pineapple upside down cake featuring as favourites.

The ultimate British dessert, the trifle, is a favourite treat up and down the country. By commonly combining tinned fruit, custard, whipped cream, sponge and sometimes sherry, the trifle is known for spoiling us in indulgence. The iconic dessert dates back to 1596 in ‘The Good Housewife’s Jewell’ by Thomas Dawson, but not until the 1980s, when Birds rebranded the trifle as a ‘modern dessert’, did the classic trifle experience a renaissance in its popularity. It became OK for homemakers to ‘cheat’ when cooking in order to save time by using packaged food, such as the packaged trifle sponges and Bird’s custard. The beloved trifle remains popular to this day, with numerous variants appearing in recipe books including a chocolate crème egg version and a peanut butter trifle in the United States.

The origins of the chief coffee dessert, tiramisu, are widely debated between chefs in Piedmount, Lombardy, Veneto and Toscana, but nonetheless the 1980s witnessed a worldwide popularity. The first use of the name ‘tiramisu’ was published in a recipe book in the 1980s with the name essentially and quite suitably meaning ‘pick me up’. The intense coffee flavour is the dessert’s outstanding taste, but in fact, the key ingredients are savoiardi biscuits (famously known as ‘Ladyfingers’) and mascarpone cheese, which was an extremely fashionable ingredient during the ‘80s. The tiramisu trend has continued into the twenty-first century due to its sweet, rich and fluffy taste making it a notorious choice of dessert.

The pineapple upside down cake became a classic choice for British afternoon teas during the 1980s. The sheer skill of carefully pouring cake batter over pineapple, to only up-turn it again after baking, became mastered (sometimes more successfully than others) by many throughout the decade. The recipe provided an alternative and fun way to make a pretty cake that still tasted delicious. The dessert became popular for its uniqueness in combining the pineapple’s tasty tang with the sweetness of the cake. Today, the pineapple upside down cake is less popular than in the ‘80s but the clever technique of baking upside down cakes still commonly features in recipe books.