Saturday, May 24, 2014

Strawberry Citrus Trifle





Trifle is an old fashioned dessert hailing from the British Isles. Trifles and related rich desserts making use of stale cakes go back to the 1700's. Fools, Spanish Bizcocho Borracho  and Italian Zuppa Ingles are all related to the same culinary tradition.

A beautiful and showy dessert that can be used as a table centerpiece, Trifle is made with sponge (or pound) cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream.  The components are usually layered in a large serving bowl, but you can also create "mini" trifles in small canning jars or individual dessert bowls. The great thing about trifle is that it serves a crowd and making sure that you add the whipped cream just before serving its fine to assemble the day before, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Trifle is not an overwhelming project - you can simplify the components by using ready-made items (packaged cake, instant pudding, frozen berries, canned whipped cream) or you can bake a cake, whip the cream, cook the custard. The resulting dessert will be beautiful and delicious whether you go for shortcuts or not.

This trifle is made with a citrus-sour cream pound cake (adapted from Norwegian Sour Cream Cake on the King Arthur Flour website), pureed fresh strawberries (jazzed up with a bit of brandy and a small amount of confectioners' sugar), lemon custard (I used a packaged pudding mix) and whipped cream.  Although the cake is dairy, a non-dairy version can easily be created (it's harder to find a packaged non-dairy pound cake). I've included directions for converting the dairy cake to a very tasty pareve version.  Packaged lemon custard or lemon curd is often pareve. Non-dairy whipped toppings are available (although they generally have more chemicals than I'm comfortable with).

Choreography: 
These steps can be completed a day or two prior trifle assembly:
*Bake (or buy) the pound cake. If you are baking a cake you can do so a day or two before you plan to assemble the trifle- or you can do as did this time, bake and freeze the cake until you plan to assemble the trifle. At the time you assemble the trifle, cut the cake into small, bite size squares.
*Puree the fruit (I used strawberries, soft stone fruit or berries will work as well....try peaches or nectarines). The puree can be made a day or two before you plan to assemble the trifle.
*Make the custard or lemon curd  (use a "lemon meringue" pie mix or make it from scratch. Cool the mixture.

These steps should be completed at the time you plan to assemble the dessert:
*Slice additional fruit for decorating the top of the trifle.
* Whip cream (or use ready made whipped cream).
*Assemble the trifle. Chill until you are ready to serve.

Equipment:
For the cake: 
2 medium loaf pans or bundt cake pan
scale
measuring cups, spoons
electric mixer (or a sturdy wooden spoon if you are mixing by hand)

For the puree:
A food processor or blender

For the lemon pudding (or curd):
large saucepan (a heavy bottomed saucepan works better)
mixing spoon
measuring cups and spoons

For preparation of the whole fruit:
knife and flat surface

For the whipped cream (if you are making it from scratch) :
Mixer or portable beaters and a large bowl
Measuring spoons and cup

COMPONENTS OF THE TRIFLE: 

Cake ingredients:
This cake is adapted from Norwegian Sour Cream Cake on the King Arthur Flour website. The cake is made with dairy products, but I've included non-dairy (pareve) substitutions.

8oz unsalted butter (or pareve margarine or coconut oil)
14 oz granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Fiori di Sicilia flavoring (optional, but it really adds a wonderful citrus tone to the cake)
12 oz sour cream (or yogurt, or pareve sour cream substitute combined with 1/2 tsp vinegar)
    Note: you can use full fat or low fat sour cream or yogurt. Yogurt is a bit thinner than sour cream
    so you may find that you'll need to add another tablespoon or two of flour in addition to the
    amount called for in the recipe.
17 oz all purpose flour

Procedure:
1. Preheat the oven. I used 2 glass loaf pans and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  The original directions suggest a full size tube or bundt pan. Grease two loaf pans with spray oil and shake a tablespoon or two of unflavored breadcrumbs (or a small amount of flour) around the inside of the pan.


2. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time. I break the yolks before adding them into a batter or dough, I find it makes it easier to blend the egg into the mixture. Add the flavoring and salt. Mix.
4. Combine the flour and baking powder. I use an old fashioned metal strainer that I've used for many years.  This step add a minute or two to the process, but you'll never have the bitter taste of baking powder (or soda) that didn't mix into the flour correctly.  You can also use a sifter for this purpose.

5. Add the sour cream (in two additions) and flour mixture (in three additions) alternately to the sugar-egg mixture. Mix until the entire batter is hydrated and mixed. Do not over-mix, the resulting batter will be thick.
6. Add half the batter to each pan, smooth with a silicone spatula and/or your fingers.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes (check after 35 minutes). The finished cake will be a light golden color.


8. Cool the cakes and remove from the pan.  The cooled cakes can be loosely wrapped and used within a day or two - or you can wrap and freeze to use at a later time.

9. This cake has a wonderful and robust citrus flavor. Use one for the trifle and save the second and serve at another time by itself or with ice cream!

Fruit Puree:
1 lb ripe, hulled and cleaned strawberries
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1/4-1/3 confectioners' sugar (sweeten to personal preference)

Procedure:
1. Place the fruit, brandy and sugar in the bowl of the food processor.
2. Pulse the fruit until smooth (don't liquify).
3. Pour into a container. If you are making the fruit puree more than a day or two in advance, cover and freeze. Defrost several hours prior to dessert assembly.


Lemon pudding (lemon curd) :
I used a packaged mix, but if you want to make it from scratch, easy versions can be found at:
David Lebovitz's link or at the King Arthur blog .

The pudding/curd can be made a day ahead.

Sliced Fruit:
Slice 1 lb of hulled cleaned strawberries (or other berries or fruit if you choose). The fruit should be prepared when you are ready to assemble the trifle. Leave a few larger pieces to decorate the top of the trifle.

Whipped Cream: 
1 large can whipped cream or 2 cups sweetened home made whipped cream.
An easy recipe with directions for making whipped cream from scratch can be found at the Land o' Lakes website .  The proportion is 1 c whipping or extra heavy cream, 1/4 c sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.  You can use 1 tsp vanilla sugar instead of the extract.

Home made whipped cream can be prepared, covered and stored in the refrigerator a day or two before assembly.  Canned whipped cream is squirted directly over the assembled dessert just before serving.


To Assemble the Trifle: 

Building the trifle takes about 30 minutes.
1. Slice and dice one of the pound cakes. Set aside.

2. Have the prepared lemon pudding (lemon curd), pureed fruit (defrosted if you have prepared it previously) , sliced fruit and whipped cream ready.



3. Use half of each the ingredients to create the first layer: cubed cake, pudding, fruit puree and sliced fruit. Repeat to make a second complete layer. Top with whipped cream and decorate with the larger pieces of fruit you set aside. Serve in small portions using a large serving spoon - the trifle is rich and will serve a crowd.