When the berries of the summer are ripe and you are looking for an elegant dessert, try an English Trifle.
It is a very flexible dish to utilize any fruit and any sort of cake any sort of pudding and any sort of whipped topping. As you know I am a purist and do everything as close to homemade as possible.
Tackle this dessert in layers and here is what you will need:
Cake – I used lady fingers. They are Alessi brand and I find them at Meijer in the International section. They keep forever and I have them on hand year round for a quick addition to pudding. You can use pound cake, regular cake, or possibly angel food cake but I have never tried anything but pound cake and lady fingers.
Pudding – I make a homemade pudding. You can use boxed pudding.
Whipped Cream – I use heavy whipping cream beaten and flavor it with vanilla and Stevia. You could use Cool Whip as long as you don’t read the label of the ingredients and die of shock and heart attack when you see the chemicals it is made with.
Sherry – I use sherry as a dip and flavoring for the lady fingers. If I am taking the desert to church on Sunday, I barely dip the lady fingers in the sherry to lightly moisten. If I am taking the desert to work on Monday, I drench the lady fingers for possibly obvious reasons. If you are opposed to using liquor, then dip in a little fruit juice.
Have all the ingredients ready. For a full size Trifle bowl I make 6 cups of pudding. The trifle takes about 5 cups and this leaves a cup left for me to make two individual servings in mini trifle dishes for my lunch. This desert can be made a day ahead but it will be better if you make it the same day you serve it. Much beyond a day, things get too watery.
Wash the Berries
I wash all my berries in the sink with enough water to cover them and I add ½ to 1 cup of white vinegar. The vinegar kills off bacteria and the berries last much longer. Let them soak for 20 minutes. After washing, I cut the strawberries in slices but leave the other berries whole.
Make the pudding and let it cool. If using cake, make the cake and let it cool.
Adjust this recipe for the number of cups you want. I suggest 6 cups.
Two Cups Four Cups Six Cups
1/3 cup sugar 2/3 cup sugar 1 cup sugar
2 T. corn starch 4 T. corn starch 6 T. corn starch
Dash of salt ¼ tsp salt ½ tsp salt
2 cups of milk 4 cups of milk 6 cups of milk
2 eggs 4 eggs 6 eggs
2 T. butter 4 T. butter 6 T. butter
2 tsp vanilla 4 tsp vanilla 6 tsp vanilla
Mix the dry ingredients together and put in a pan. Slowly add the milk and mix well to avoid lumps. Heat on medium heat and stir constantly. Mix the eggs in a separate container and add a few tablespoons of the hot mixture to the eggs to temper them so you don’t end up with scrambled egg pudding. Keep adding hot mixture to the eggs until the eggs are warm and then add the eggs to the mixture. Keep stirring constantly. Remove from the heat once the pudding is thick. Once it cools, add the butter and vanilla.
Start by pouring some sherry into a pie pan. Take a ladyfinger and dip it in the sherry for just a moment and then dip the other side. You can line the bowl with lady fingers or you can break them into bite size pieces.
Layer some lady fingers in the bowl. Add a layer of pudding. Add a layer of all the fruit. If you like a lot of whipped cream, add a layer. I only use the whipped cream for the very top layer. Continue layering to fill the bowl. On the top, add a layer of whipped cream and top with some fruit.
If you don’t have a trifle bowl, just use a clear bowl. It is truly worth the effort to make the pudding and whipped cream from scratch. The sherry adds a flavor element that even those opposed to liquor will still enjoy. You will also be the envy of the office when you pull out your mini trifle. Trust me, there will be nothing left of the big one when you take it to an event. Make a couple small ones for yourself!