Growing up, back in the mid-sixties, every Easter we had fresh strawberries over the store bought sponge cake topped with whipped cream, which was dubbed Strawberry Shortcake. I wasn’t a huge fan of this concoction. Though the strawberries were delightful, the sponge cake was left on the plate. True Strawberry Shortcake is made with a shortbread cake or biscuit. The term ‘short’ means the leavening derives from baking powder or soda, not yeast. The biscuit is sweet, rather than the more savory breakfast biscuit and that version has graced our table on Easters past. I believe the sponge cake variety must have come about in the heyday of the “I Hate to Cook” cookbook.
The sponge cake variety is a favorite of my husband, but I still can’t bring myself to ever put that on the table. As Easter will be here soon, I wanted to put together a similar type of dessert, with an improved flavor while still preserving the rapid assembly of the sponge cake recipe.
For this I brought out the trifle bowl. Though once used frequently, it has been stored in a cabinet for too long. Trifles were very popular in cooking magazines twenty years or so ago, so, naturally, when first married I wanted a trifle bowl. Being before the advent of the interwebs, finding one I could afford was not easy. Of course there were crystal options such as the Waterford one below. This was way out of my budget then, and really, it still is.
Another issue is space. Trifle bowls are stemmed, thus taking up the bowl height plus the stem height in the cabinet. Anchor Hocking has an inexpensive glass bowl, but the stem is always attached. A few years ago at a Pampered Chef party, the consultant showcased a bowl with a removable stem, which can be stored in the bowl when not being used. I bought one. I love it. Though the Waterford bowl is still calling to me.
Onto the recipe! Again, this recipe was facilitated by the interwebs! I searched for trifle recipes in a general search, I found one which used lemon curd then proceeded to over process the fruit. There is generally no need to do anything but serve fresh fruit in this dessert, so that wasn’t an option. Then I found Bobby Flay’s version on Foodtv. It used fresh fruit, but I had no desire to make a lemon curd. So I concocted the version below. The lemon curd is jarred, the pound cake and the whipped topping are frozen, but the fruit is fresh, not frozen and macerated in raspberry liqueur, no sugar. Cool whip now has a whipped cream version of their frozen whipped topping which I like very much.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when Mrs. Lane would have made every bit of this from scratch, but this time, I was attempting to improve on the Eater sponge cake and still make it speedy. Trifles are actually intended to use up leftover cake, the process thus would have been simplified into cut up stale cake, layer with fruit and cream. Thus making a cake made little sense to me.
Two caveats. One, this makes enough for a crowd. Two, check the date on the lemon curd, one that is close to expiration won’t be as uniformly smooth as a fresher product.
Lemon Curd Trifle with Raspberries and Strawberries
• 2 pints raspberries
• 2 pints strawberries, sliced
• 1/4 cup Chambord or other raspberry liqueur
• 16 oz whipped cream or whipped topping
• 1 (11-ounce) jar lemon curd
• 2 store bought pound cakes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
• 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Place the berries into a large bowl and pour raspberry liqueur over. Set aside to allow berries to macerate.
Put the lemon curd into a mixing bowl and stir in a little of the whipped cream or topping to loosen it. Fold in the rest of the cream.
To assemble the trifle, line a trifle bowl with a layer of pound cake slices, overlapping slightly, drizzle with Grand Marnier, then lemon cream and then berries. Continue to alternate layers of cake, lemon cream, and fruit, ending with a layer of berries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.