Monday, September 12, 2011

Kids Make Berry Trifle

Sifting flour into pound cake batter

Welcome to season four of our 'round-the-world culinary tour.

My food appreciation classes have now landed in Great Britain after a gustatory sojourn in France. England, bless her heart, isn't exactly known for her great cuisine and I wanted to start the new school year with something fresh. I turned to the trifle--and I don't mean a small thing, but one of our favorite catering dishes. Traditionally, this is a cakey, pudding-like desert layered in a straight-sided glass bowl. Ours called for lots of fresh berries, pound cake and a filling of whipped cream and lemon curd.

Just remember this is a dessert, not a snack. It's full of sugar.

In a perfect world, I'd start this trifle two days ahead. Make the pound cake first, then after layering all the ingredients in your bowl, place it in the fridge overnight to set. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of time in our cooking classes, so our trifle turned out a bit runny. And while you could use a store-bought pound cake for this, we opted for making our own, which meant a very busy class. Kids love trimming and cutting the strawberries. And they love all the steps involved in making cake batter.

What's a pound cake, anyway? Apparently, the original recipe called for a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Or so the story goes. Our cake is not nearly so heavy. Start by greasing a 9x5-inch loaf pan, then lining it with parchment paper. Spray the parchment with Baker's Joy (flour and oil) and set aside.

In a large bowl (or using an electric mixer) beat 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) soft but still cool butter until smooth and shiny. We used the back of a wooden spoon for this. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and almost white.

Meanwhile, in a measuring cup mix together 3 eggs plus 3 egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 1/2 teaspoons water. Gradually stir this into the butter mixture until fully incorporated. Then beat in 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Sift 1/2 cup cake flour into the butter and egg mix and fold gently until completely incorporated. Do this twice more, for a total of 1 1/2 cups flour. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and place on the middle rack of a 325-degree oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the crack that forms in the top of the cake comes out clean, or about 70 or 80 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, then invert again onto a second rack to cool.

For the fruit, toss 1 quart strawberries, trimmed and quartered, in a bowl with 1 pint blueberries, 1 pint raspberries and the juice from 1/2 lemon. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch, then pour the fruit into a saucepan and cook over moderate heat just until the fruit is soft. Allow the pan to cool, then place in the fridge to chill.

Meanwhile, spoon 1/2 11-ounce jar lemon curd into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 1/2 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form. Fold some of the whipped cream into the lemon curd until smooth, then add the rest of the whipped cream and fold until fully incorporated.

Spread some of the whipped cream mix to cover the bottom of a small trifle bowl (or something similar). Cover with pound cake cut into 1/2-inch slices. Break slices into pieces if necessary. Spoon some berries with their liquid over the pound cake and cover with whipped cream. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients are used up, forming three or four layers. Place in the fridge overnight to set.

To serve the trifle, insert a large spoon all the way to the bottom, snagging pieces of cake, some berries and lemony whipped cream, now infused with berry juices. We turned this out in cups for the kids. But if you really want to impress your guests, you might place a slice of pound cake on a fancy plate, cover it with a big spoonful of trifle, then top with more whipped cream and some reserved berry juice. In either case, it's a pretty decadent taste of a British classic.


  1. Did all the kids eat it? I'd love to see a photo of them enjoying their baking. It sounds scrumptious!

  2. Marfa, I was shocked to see that not all of the kids at it. I think the smallest kids had a problem with the way it looked--the whipped cream colored by the berries. The older kids loved it.