The 4 components of a trifle are the fruit, the custard, the "cake" and the whipped cream. And please, do not call this a "dump" or "compost" cake! So much more sophisticated than that, it is the original layered beauty, bright with elegance, so sublime, and a worthy finale for your finest feast.
Trifles can be made as individual desserts as well by layering the components into your best stemware. However you choose to
The fruit and cake used to compose your trifle may be altered according to season or convenience. In this tutorial, I have used images from 2 different trifle creations. In one of them, I used strawberries alone while in the other I added raspberries. Both creations were equally divine! I have also added fresh mango before, and at 4th of July, blueberries for a patriotic touch!
Regarding the cake, you may use pound cake, sponge cake, lady fingers or angel food cake with equally scrumptious success. And then there's the obvious question of buying or baking the cake; the answer lies in available time. Because I always make my own custard, slice and prepare fresh fruit, and whip real organic heavy cream (yes, organic really is better when it comes to dairy products!)...the cake, I usually purchase.
Though custard is most true to the traditional English Trifle, you may use a pastry cream as I did here (which uses added cornstarch as a thickener instead of all egg yolks), lemon curd or pudding. And of course, whipped cream, the ethereal crowning glory, may be layered in or reserved for the top only.
While an English person would scoff at my omission of any kind of alcohol, you may sprinkle the cake layer with sherry, brandy or any liqueur of choice. Jam is also a part of the traditional recipe, used to sandwich two layers of cake and then broken up as such upon layering into the bowl. I also omit jam since I choose instead to marinate the fruit in sugar, which releases their lovely juices to become a sweet soak for the cake.
So be creative! Bust out the proud pedestal bowl and reward your friends with a grand, fruity-fresh basin of bliss for your next gathering! They deserve it...and so do you!
serves at least 12
3 pounds fresh strawberries (and/or raspberries)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 angel food cake or pound cake (you will need about 6 cups cubed or torn cake pieces)
3 cups *pastry cream, custard or pudding (recipe below)
1 pint heavy cream
3 Tbsp powder sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Save several perfect strawberries as whole to decorate the top!
Make *Vanilla Pastry Cream recipe below, the day before. Refrigerate until cold.
Place the bowl you will be using to whip the cream in the freezer. (Cream must be kept ice cold to whip properly.)
Into another bowl, slice the rinsed strawberries. Stir in the 1/2 cup sugar and press with a potato masher until the juices begins to release, but leaving large chunks of berry. Stir in lemon juice; cover and refrigerate for an hour or more to create even more juice.
A couple of hours before serving, prepare to whip the cream by removing the chilled bowl from the freezer. Pour in the heavy cream and add the powder sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until desired consistency.
Place the cake, chilled pastry cream, smashed strawberries and whipped cream before you, ready to assemble. Beginning with cake, then fruit, then pastry cream, layer 2 or 3 times, being careful to create a beautiful visual on the outside by making sure the strawberries are seen from the outside of the bowl. Give each component it's place along the outer glass to display the layering beautifully. You may not have a piping bag as I did, however, spooning the whipped cream in billowy peaks is just as beautiful and surely tastes just as good! Finish your masterpiece by placing a few fresh strawberries on top. Serve with a smile!
* Vanilla Pastry Cream
makes about 3 cups
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter, salted
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. In a medium bowl, stir the sugar and cornstarch together, then add the 6 yolks, stirring with a wire whip. While stirring the yolk mixture, pour some of the hot milk into it, then a little more, all while stirring. Then add all the yolk mixture back into the hot milk saucepan, stirring. Bring it back to a low simmer, cook until velvety smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, placed right on the surface of the custard to keep it from forming a skin. Refrigerate until cold.