Saturday, April 22, 2006

Trifle Made Easy

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

Today my brother and his girlfriend are hosting a post-Easter pot luck dinner, and I got elected to bring dessert. I awoke with energy this morning. Yesterday I was thinking of bailing on the pot luck because I felt magnatized to my bed, but this morning I felt great and was super productive. I decided to give the pot luck a go, and decided that a trifle would be an easy thing to take to dinner.

My maternal grandmother made the most awesome trifle. She bought a jelly roll from the grocery store and sliced it, lined a trifle bowl with the slices, and then added liquid jello. She put this in the fridge overnight to set and then added a layer of custard (Bird's) and lastly a layer of whipped cream. It was quite heavenly. I made it for a Christmas dinner several years ago and it was a big hit.

Since then, I've discovered that the sky's the limit with trifle. Originally, it was designed to use up stale cake/pastry pieces. You added some fruit, custard, whipped cream, and Bob was your uncle. I prefer to use fresh ingredients, and have evolved beyond jello by using fresh berries.

A note about bowls, before we go much further. Obviously, since a trifle involves layers, you want to show those layers off in a glass bowl. I own a beautiful footed trifle bowl that makes a stunning presentation, but alas it is in Ottawa still, pending shipping when a friend of mine moves out west next month. If you can, get creative. There are some vases I've seen that would make stunning trifle bowls - again, the sky's the limit. The bowl in the above picture is a glass salad bowl. Use what you have on hand, and if you don't have a glass bowl don't worry. The trifle will speak for itself as it is consumed!

The Components

You'll need:

- 1 8" layer of sponge cake, cubed, of your choice (the recipe I use follows),or a few cups of cubed pound cake, or a few cups of angel food cake. Again, use your imagination and preferences as a guide. You need enough cubed sponge to line the bottom of your trifle bowl and make a thick layer. You don't want too thin a layer of sponge because this is the base. I'd say, on average, depending on the size of your bowl, the bottom sponge layer should be about a quarter of the bowl.
- 1 box Jello vanilla pudding, yielding approx. 2 cups. Yes, this might seem like cheating to you, but let me tell you, this tastes way, way better than Bird's custard and it's way cheaper and far quicker and easier than making a homemade pastry cream.
- Fresh berries of your choice, or a medly of berries. Two cups minimum, again depending on the size of your trifle bowl, and more if you wish to garnish the top of your trifle with the berries. This trifle I just made used one pound of strawberries.
- 1 cup whipped cream, minimum (again, this is dependent upon your bowl) sweetened, whipped to soft peaks
- chocolate shavings, or other suitable garnish - get creative. I used a chocolate bunny left over from Easter and took my vegetable peeler to it to get the shavings.


Once you've put your sponge in the bottom of your bowl, you may wish to sprinkle it with some sort of booze. Sherry is traditional. You don't have to, especially if you have a nice moist cake. If you're using something day old or that's been in the freezer a while, you may want to hydrate the sponge with some type of booze or simple syrup (a 50/50 combination of water and sugar, brought to a boil for a few minutes, then cooled - a staple in the pastry kitchen let me tell you), or even a fruit syrup from tinned fruit.

Make up the pudding and whisk it until thoroughly combined. Pour over the sponge. Put the berries in next.

Again, depending on the size of your bowl, you can either add another, thinner, layer of cubed sponge or just proceed to the whipped cream stage. In the trife I just made, I added a second layer of sponge because I could.

Spread your whipped cream smooth on top of the trifle, and garnish as you want. You can do whatever you want on the top, really. You can pipe whipped cream if you're feeling adventurous and have the equipment, or you can do a fruit arrangement as I did.

Simple, eh?

The Sponge

This recipe came from the Dieticians of Canada cookbook, and is called Lazy Daizy Cake. It's an excellent recipe and is very versatile.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
- beat until light and fluffy

1 cup flour
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
- combine

1/2 cup milk, scalded
2 tsp butter, melted in the milk

Add the flour and milk in alternate additions, with three of flour and two of milk. Combine until just mixed.

Pour batter into prepared 8" round or square cake pan. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely.


Enjoy the trifle, and enjoy the compliments you'll get when serving it!


Bridget Jones said...


I'm not a dessert person, and don't mean to be disgusting, but I think I had a delightfully satisfying sexual experience just looking at the picture, let alone reading the description.

HOly heaven, lady are you TALENTED or WHAT!!!

YEE GODS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you!!!

Seriously, thank you!!!!!!


p.s. apologies to anyone I've just offended...

tshsmom said...

My family LOVES trifle! Their favorite is one I make with chocolate pudding and bananas.

Have you tried the sugar free Jello pudding? It's fabulous, with more flavor than the regular version.

Bridget Jones said...

tshsmom, thank you for posting a clean and nice comment.....raising the bar in this lovely blog....

Wandering Coyote said...

Bridg: that's quite the compliment! Thanks. Don't worry about not being G-rated with me.

tshsmom: some people associate trifle with iff stuff, so I'm glad to hear your family likes it. It's a good sign. And the chocolate pudding/banana one sounds great. I want to make a black forest type trifle next: chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, cherry pie filling...mmmmm....

Ivonne said...


That looks fantastic. I was telling someone earlier today that I have never made trifle. You have inspired me to try. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

greatwhitebear said...

That does look delicious!

Rather than use Jello, my grandmother always used frozen berries, and reserved the juice. She mixed the juice with butter and cornstarch or arrowroot, and heated it just until it turned clear and started to thicken. My favorites were always blueberry or blackberrry.

Haven't had a homemade trifle (cept at Fiddler's Hearth) since i was a kid, because no one in the family besides Grandpa, Grandma, and I liked it.


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