Summer Trifle

Trifles make beautiful presentations when you serve them at the table. They are wonderful any time of year, and can use fresh fruit or jam, nuts, homemade or boxed pudding, and homemade or canned whipped cream. Add some booze for the adults, or keep it simple for the kids. It works best with stale cake – angel food, sponge or a simple yellow cake – use chocolate for extra richness! It’s an excellent, fresh use for leftovers, and can be made with perfect layers, or a messy jumble of ingredients. No matter how you throw it together it will be absolutely delicious!

You will need cake, pudding, whipped cream, and fruit for this summery recipe. It’s easiest to prep your components in the day or two before you need the trifle, except for the whipped cream. Everything can be kept in the fridge.


Step 1: Prep Your Fruit

You can use fresh or frozen. Any seasonal fruit will work. (Obviously frozen fruit in the winter.)

Sprinkle about 4-6 cups of fruit with 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside. You can prep this a day or two in advance, but keep it chilled until an hour or two before you assemble your trifle.(You can skip the sugar part if you want, but it helps bring out the lovely fruit juices and forms a syrup.)


Step 2: The Sponge Cake

If you’re making this from scratch, prepare it a day or two ahead, and refrigerate until an hour or two before assembling. (You can also purchase a premade angel food or yellow cake, no icing!)

120 g All Purpose Flour (about 1 C) – set aside

120 g Granulated Sugar (½ C + 1½ Tbsp)

4 Large Eggs, at room temperature, or warmed slightly in warm water (it is essential that the eggs are at room temperature otherwise the cake will not rise)

1 teasp Vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour a 8” round cake pan. (We used a springform, and it worked perfectly!)


Put eggs , sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. (You can do this with a hand mixer as well. You won’t get the required volume whisking by hand.)

Beat for about 10 minutes on high, or until the mixture is super fluffy and pale yellow in color. It should be at a “medium peak” consistency.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift the flour on top a little at a time while you gently fold it in with a spatula or wooden spoon. 

Pour into your prepared cake pan. Do not smooth out the top or tap the pan on the counter. It will smooth out on it’s own, and you don’t want to lose any of those air bubbles!


Bake for 25 minutes – DO NOT open the oven during this time. After 25 minutes, gently check with a toothpick to see if it is done. If not, bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Turn off the oven, but do not remove the cake! Open the door and leave it ajar for 10 minutes while the cake SLOWLY cools.

After 10 minutes, place the cake in the pan on a wire cake rack for a further 10 minutes.

Then, loosening around the edges, turn it upside down on the wire rack and remove the pan. Allow to cool completely before wrapping and refrigerating.


Step 3: The Pudding

Again, a boxed pudding mix will work just as well in the trifle, but homemade pudding is a delicious treat on its own or with crushed up cookies or fruit, so it’s a good skill to have under your belt.


3 C Whole Milk (Low-fat, skim or nut milks will give you a runnier pudding)

3 Tbsp Cornstarch

¾ C Sugar

3 Egg Yolks (save the whites for a delicious omelette!)

(1 C Cocoa Powder if you want chocolate pudding)

1 Tbsp Butter

1 teasp Vanilla Extract

1 pinch Salt


Place ¼ C of the milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the remaining milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk together while heating over medium – medium low heat until it begins to steam. Turn the heat to low.

Slowly pour about a ¼ C of the hot milk into the egg yolks, quickly whisking the whole time. (You MUST do this slowly, or you will end up with scrambled eggs.)

Slowly add the heated egg yolks back into the milk, again whisking all the time. Whisk up the milk and cornstarch and add that to the pan as well.

Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture thickens, whisking all the time.

Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Pour into a heat proof bowl and place plastic wrap on the surface so you don’t get a “skin”.

Allow to cool before refrigerating.


Step 4: The Whipped Cream

Make sure both your cream AND the bowl are cold.

Pour 1 pint of whipping cream or heavy cream into the bowl of your stand mixer. (You can also use a hand mixer.)

Starting at a low speed, then slowly increasing, whip the cream until it reaches “soft peak” consistency. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp powdered sugar and continue to whip until it just barely gets to “stiff peak” consistency. (You can also add a shot of fruit brandy or bourbon for an extra special kick! But only if you’re not serving to minors…)


Step 5: Assemble the Trifle

You can do what you want from here-on-out, but generally, this is how you layer a trifle:

(Use a glass bowl or trifle dish so you can see the layers.)

Cut or break up the cake and put a layer on the bottom of the bowl.

Top with about half the fruit.

Spread about half the pudding over the fruit.

Spread about half the whipped cream on top of the pudding.

Repeat all four layers.

Garnish with fresh mint or more fruit on the top.

Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Summer Trifle