Lemon Trifle with Berries
If you have teenagers, you’ll probably want to skip this blog as the main ingredient in trifle is stale cake. If you actually do occasionally have stale (or extra) cake — with or without teenagers — read on!
If you’re unfamiliar with trifle, it’s a British invention for using stale cake. Which does lead one to wonder if stale cake is a common problem for the Brits because their teenagers are sent off to boarding school.
My stale cake was the result of a holiday food faire. I have a killer pound cake recipe which is always a big hit as it’s rich and full of the round bottom notes of ground vanilla beans and topped with a Tahitian vanilla glaze. Invariably there is some leftover cake and, as so easily happens during the holidays, the leftovers were tucked into the refrigerator and forgotten.
A true English trifle consists of the cake, sherry, fruit and custard or whipped cream or both. I wanted something with more zing than custard to brighten a mid-January evening. And, as I have an abundance of Meyer lemons, I liked the idea of cake with lemon curd, and whipped cream. Further, I discovered a bottle of Limoncello I made in 2011, which is now beautifully aged and mellow. I envisioned raspberries, but at $8.00 a pint I decided to check out the frozen berries. No frozen raspberries but, little, wild, boreal blueberries caught my eye. The contrast in color appealed and they turned out to be a perfect match for the tangy lemon curd.
No need for a recipe to make this trifle though I have included all the recipes you’ll need to put trifle together. If you already have stale cake, you can use this combination or choose one of your own. Otherwise, you can whip up this pound cake recipe, making it into two or more loaves. Freeze or use half the cake and dedicate the other half to trifle. You could also make this one bowl vanilla cake if you don’t want as large a cake.
Cut the cake into small squares, place in a bowl, and sprinkle generously with Sherry, liqueur or even rum or brandy. The Limoncello was delicate and moistened the cake without being overwhelming. I let it sit overnight before I made the trifle but you can sprinkle it on the cake as you assemble the trifle if your prefer, especially if the cake is only mildly stale (or stale at all).
Typically trifle is prepared in a two or three quart (or litre) glass bowl. I wanted to give my trifle as gifts to some of my new neighbors so I opted for glass canning jars with a few additional servings in dessert dishes to serve with tea. Depending on how much cake you have and how large or small you want to make the trifle, choose the appropriate container(s).
Place a layer of cake on the bottom and press it down slightly. Next, cover the cake with lemon curd. You can make it yourself or purchase it pre-made to save time. Sprinkle the berries onto the lemon curd and then add a layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Repeat the layers until you have used up the ingredients, ending with the whipped cream. You will probably use between a half and a full pint of whipped cream, and two cups of lemon curd.
I put the jars of trifle in the refrigerator overnight so that the cake would soften and the flavors would mellow, then delivered them to my new neighbors. I was delighted by their excitement over an unexpected, colorful dessert that certainly didn’t taste like a way to use up stale cake!
A few notes to make this task easier:
- Don’t want to make a cake from scratch? It’s okay to use a boxed cake mix; the lemon curd and cream will give it sparkle.
- Use wide-mouthed canning jars if possible. I only had narrow-mouthed jars. It can be a little tricky jamming each layer in without getting the lemon curd and cream all over the inside of the jars. I used paper towels to wipe out some of the smudges I made but, I discovered that when you get everything into the jars, they look fine, so don’t stress if you have only the narrow-necked jars and don’t worry about smudges on the inside.
- Only use pint-sized jars for couples or serious eaters as it’s a rich dessert.
- Feel free to switch it out. If you have chocolate cake, use strawberry or raspberry jam and whipped cream or chocolate or vanilla pudding. Play with your food — And have fun!!
Lemon Trifle with Berries
Double Vanilla Pound Cake:
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 4 cups flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, delete)
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2–1/2 cups Rain’s Choice Vanilla Sugar or plain sugar
- 6 jumbo eggs, room temperature (or 7 large eggs)
- 1 tablespoon Rain’s Choice pure Vanilla Extract plus 1/2 teaspoon
- Rain’s Choice ground Vanilla Bean Powder, or 2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste
For the Trifle:
- 1 bottle Limoncello
- 1–2 jars Lemon curd
- 1 box fresh raspberries
- 1 pint slightly sweetened whipped cream
First – Make the Double Vanilla Pound Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Re-sift the flour with the baking powder and the salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on moderately high speed until light; about 3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla (or plain) sugar in two portions, beating thoroughly after each portion is added. Beat in eggs, one at a time, periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure an even mixture. Blend in vanilla extract and ground powder or vanilla paste.
- On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour and scrape the batter into lightly buttered, floured 10-inch tube pan, a large square baking pan or three loaf pans. Bake the cake on the lowest rack of the oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake emerges clean and dry.
- Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
To prepare the trifle:
- Cut the cake into small squares, place in a bowl, and sprinkle generously with Limoncello.
- I let it sit overnight before I made the trifle but you can sprinkle it on the cake as you assemble the trifle if your prefer.
- Typically trifle is prepared in a two or three quart (or litre) glass bowl. You can opt for individual serving dishes if you want to serve guests individual servings.
- Place a layer of cake on the bottom of the bowl and press it down slightly. Next, cover the cake with lemon curd. Sprinkle the berries onto the lemon curd and then add a layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Repeat the layers until you have used up the ingredients, ending with the whipped cream. You will probably use between a half and a full pint of whipped cream, and two cups of lemon curd.
- Put the trifle in the refrigerator overnight so that the cake can soften and the flavors can mellow, then serve.
Don’t want to make a cake from scratch? It’s okay to use a boxed cake mix; the lemon curd and cream will give it sparkle.
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