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No Trifling Thing

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So on Memorial Day, my Friend-I-Can-Cook-With and I made a trifle. (We also made baked beans which turned out just fine, but are not nearly as interesting).

As FICCW noted, I was the architect of the trifle, and he was the engineer. This came in handy when, for example, I had baked two 9-inch rounds of cake and needed them divided into three equal portions. You may smile gently at this point and say to yourself “well, Annie’s a smart woman; she could have done that on her own…”) but you would be tragically mistaken. I cannot keep track of certain logical sorts of things (I am always confused by recipes involving “ending with a top layer of” something. Sometimes I have to draw myself a picture of alternating lasagna noodles, sauce and cheese that resembles a cross section of the earth’s core in order to avoid confusion and a last minute run to the store for extra mozzarella).

But I digress. What I envisioned were alternating layers of homemade white cake, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries. Once the project commenced, the following changes were made:

  1. There were no fresh blueberries, so I bought frozen
  2. I like yellow cake better, so I abandoned the patriotic color scheme and made a butter cake
  3. Having abandoned the color scheme, I decided that the last of the lemon curd might be quite good if we could work it in
  4. I found the bottle of Chambord on top of my refrigerator, and decided that the children probably wouldn’t eat the trifle anyway, and that if they did, their tempers and constitutions could only be improved with a little liqueur.
  5. I decided that the strawberries, although not frozen, looked a bit peaked from flying in from California, and required some fluffing.

Here is what we finally ended up doing, and, if I may so myself, it was magnificent.

Improvised Memorial Day Trifle

  1. 1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in slices lengthwise (reserve 5 of the most beautiful)
  2. 1 pint fresh blueberries (can substitute frozen, if necessary)
  3. 1 cup white sugar
  4. 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  5. 1 recipe white or yellow cake (enough to make two 8 or 9-inch rounds)
  6. 4 pints whipping cream
  7. Powdered sugar
  8. Vanilla
  9. Lemon Curd (optional)
  10. Chambord or other berry liqueur (optional)

-Make cake batter and bake

-While cake is baking, cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape one half pod into sugar and mix with finger tips. place in bowl with strawberries, toss to mix, and set aside.

-Whip cream with hand or stand mixer until stiff peaks form; fold in powdered sugar to taste, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Refrigerate.

-Bake cake until it is approximately 2-3 minutes past being “done.” (This will make it a bit drier and more absorbent). Cool, and divide into three equal sections.

-Crumble 1/3 of cake into bottom of bowl, sprinkle it with about 1 tablespoon of Chambord, and gently dab/spread 1/2 lemon curd over cake, cover with 1/4 whipped cream and half of the strawberries.

-Crumble another 1/3 cake, add second 1/2 lemon curd, 1/4 whipped cream, and blueberries

-Crumble final third of cake onto blueberry layer, top with 1/4 whipped cream and remaining strawberries.

-End with final 1/4 of whipped cream, and top with five beautiful strawberries arranged with four equidistant from the center and one in the center. If you are feeling very fancy, make vertical slices through the berries, leaving stem intact, and fan out.

This will be much better if it can sit for at least a few hours before serving – maybe four to six. Don’t let it it set much longer, or the cake will become mushy. Of course, this is best served in a trifle bowl or other clear glass bowl.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

10 responses »

  1. absolutely wonderful dessert. i’m a trifle fiend and it needs to have alcohol…

    one of my best memories is being 11 years old in london, ordering trifle at harrods for tea….

  2. Ann,

    Wonderful post with such a beautiful ending……..

  3. yum– will find a use for this recipe this summer. Was your cake wonderful? — would love the recipe.

  4. imagineannie

    claudia, I (obviously) like the alcohol, and i also like it really English – with jam. No trifle at Harrods, but there used to be a rooftop tea place in London (Derry & Tom’s, I think) where I had the best scones, jam and clotted cream ever. Now I want trifle at Harrods.

    Robert, I knew you’d go for the glass. 🙂

    Barbara, i used the yellow cake recipe from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.” If you can’t easily find it, let me know and I’ll send it to you ASAP.

  5. Hello:
    Having overheard your voice over the phone last night recommending Willa’s classic to my best FICCW, I feel as if we are fellow travellers. As the queen of all things triffle, I was of the school that only used the proper, sherry, as the all so Brit alcohol of choice. But after finally admitting that I don’t like sherry, and was loathe to adding the required full bottle to the sponge, I discovered a yummy and sweeter alternative. Next time, try a full bottle of Bonny Doon Framboise. A nice ice wine may also be a good alternative. (Certainly, an adult only version). I use a vanilla cream custard in place of the curd.

  6. oh my diet is hurting me now I what a Trifle!

  7. hellooooo, anyone out there. Ou es-tu cherie?

  8. Eilene, I don’t like sherry all that much myself, but anything framboise makes me happy. I’m sure that by now you have figured out that your FICCW and mine are the same person; that means you automatically have full faith and credit with me and that i will take your suggestions seriously.

    Shayne, have a trifle. It won’t hurt you – if you use fresh fruit and whipped cream, you are hitting on at least four of the food groups.

    Eric, je suis ici, comme d’habitude. Un peu deprime and fatigue, mais j’espere ecriver tous les jours. (Oh GOD don’t judge me on that).

  9. Almost perfect, I’m impressed, especially if you were drawing upon high school French. Did you continue studying post OHS? (s/b:ecrire un de ces jours) but, I said “ecriver” once to Jean-Pierre Rampal once after a recital I attended during High School-so proud of myself until Miss Coleman told me “you know, you just asked J-P Rampal if he was ABLE to write his name instead of “would you sign my program”. I still get a red face, esp. since I didn’t even say THAT right. Love and Hugs

  10. Eric, it was just high school – I did Italian in college, but not very diligently.I LOVE the Rampal story. I used to see him all the time when I was at The New England Conservatory – the flute professor lived in our dorm building on the top floor, and when Rampal was around he would stay with him and ride the elevator with us (or walk 8 flights of stairs). Fortunately for all concerned, I never spoke to Monsieur Rampal en franciase, or, indeed, at all.


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