trifle

Lemon Berry Trifle

It’s finally that time in the middle of summer when everything and anything you could possibly want is available at the farmer’s market and even the grocery stores. It was a friend’s birthday, and I had a gorgeous array of berries from the farmers market and also the last of the Meyer lemon juice I had frozen from my grandpa’s tree earlier this spring so I threw together one of my favorite summertime desserts…Lemon Berry Trifle.

I’ll admit it…sometimes I’m just to lazy to build a perfectly layered and smoothly frosted cake. Not just that, but I’ve never really been that good at getting the frosting super smooth. It’s a talent that I admire, really. I’ve always said “I’m a baker, not a cake decorator.” My friend Barry and I used to laugh every time we saw a want- ad for a cake decorator, because although we both have a bunch of experience in baking and pastries, neither of us could frost a cake with the finesse of someone whom would refer to themselves as a cake decorator. Which is why I love trifles…

A trifle is basically a deconstructed layer cake at it’s finest. With their layers of airy sponge cake, tart custard, sweet cream and fresh fruit, they are the cake decorating challenged’s best friend. They look beautiful in a trifle dish, a glass bowl, or even individually in wide-mouth mason jars.

This trifle has can be made ahead in stages. The cake is a basic chiffon cake, and freezes very well. I like to make a double batch of this recipe and keep the unused portion in the freezer because it’s so versatile and defrosts so quickly. It’s great as the base for an ice cream cake for this reason. Also, the recipe you see below is for a lemon cream versus the more commonly used lemon curd. I prefer creams to curds for a few reasons: 1) Because they use whole eggs as opposed to just egg yolks, you don’t get that metallic flavor that sometimes comes from mixing citrus with yolks. 2) There is a higher ratio of butter. ‘Nuff said. 3) They are incredibly easy too make. Another tip: If you mix the berries with the sugar about an hour before you need them, they will release enough juices so that you don’t even need to make a separate fruit puree to moisten the cake layers.

Lemon Berry Trifle

serves 10

For the cake: oven 350
adapted from Bo Friberg

Sift together and set aside:

  • 1 1/2c + 2 TBSP cake flour
  • 1c. minus 1TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix in large bowl and set aside:

  • 4 ½ yolks
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/4 c + 1 TBSP water
  • 1TBSP lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Make a well in the middle of the sifted dry mix and whisk yolk mixture in until completely smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer:

  • 7 egg whites at room temp
  • 1/3 cup minus 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Whip whites until frothy, add cream of tartar and then add sugar in a slow stream. Whip until they hold firm and shiny peaks. Beginning with about half of the whites, fold into yolk mixture using a rubber spatula. Gently fold the rest of the whites into the lightened yolk mixture until just combined.

Pour batter onto an 11×17 parchment paper lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 45 minutes. Cool in pan.

Lemon Cream:
Adapted from the Tartine Cookbook

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 9 oz lemon juice (1 cup + 2 TBSP)
  • 6 whole eggs
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • 1 # cold butter
  • pinch salt

In a large bowl, mix sugar, lemon juice, zest and eggs. Cook over a double boiler until thick, whisking frequently.( Be careful not to whisk to much, or incorporate any air because this will later make a runny cream.) Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a blender. Cut cold butter into 1 inch cubes. With the blender on low, add butter 1 cube at a time until all is incorporated and cream is emulsified. Transfer to a bowl for chilling. Press plastic wrap directly onto the top to avoid developing a skin and cool over an ice bath, and then in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before using.

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, preferably Manufacturing Cream if you can find it (available at Smart and Final)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean scraped or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Whip together until medium peaks. Set aside in refrigerator.

  • 4 cups mixed berries, hulled and washed ( I use raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries)
  • juice of one lemon
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch salt

Mix together and set aside for at least 1 hour before using, allowing juices to render.

To assemble:
Cut cake into 1 inch cubes. Put a single layer of berries on bottom of bowl or trifle dish. Top with cubed cake. Pour some of the rendered juices onto the cake to moisten. Add another single layer of berries. Top with ½ of the lemon cream and smooth using an offset spatula. Top with ½ of the whipped cream and smooth with offset spatula. Continuing layers until bowl is full, ending with whipped cream, and reserving some berries for garnish. Refrigerate.

This can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours without becoming soggy.

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