Fourth of July

Red+White+Blue Berry Trifle

July 1, 2021

Fresh picked and washed under the water spigot at edge of the orchard is undeniably the best way to enjoy handfuls of summer berries. Short of that? A cool rinse and colander-jostle under the tap at home works fine. But if you want to fancy things up for Fourth of July festivities, layer the fruit with easy-to-make vanilla custard, fresh whipped cream and tender cubes of homemade pound cake in this in this red-white-and-blue berry trifle. You can stack everything in a tall, glass bowl, or, divide it up into single-serve parfait glasses.

This pound cake is perfection! I adapted the recipe from one I found in a pamphlet of favorite recipes from ‘70s folk-singers. (There’s a vintage community cookbook for every group, believe me!) The recipe includes whipped cream in the batter and calls for a very low-and-slow bake: 300 degrees for about two hours. But the result is perfect pound cake. The batter fills two 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ glass Pyrex bakers, and yields enough cake for both the trifle, and slices of cake to serve along side.  I like to cut some of the cake into wedges to poke into the cream on top as a fun garnish. (As I’ve done in the photograph.) I don’t sugar the fruit in the trifle, but I do make some sauces (strawberry and blueberry) for people to self-serve when I bring the dessert out. Oh–and if you prefer raspberries or cherries rather than strawberries in a trifle, substitute away! And have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Red+White+Blue Berry Trifle
Layers of fresh strawberry and blueberry with vanilla custard and whipped-cream pound cake, vintage delicious! Happy Fourth of July
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  1. Whipped-Cream Pound Cake
  2. 1 cup heavy cream (whipped it will make just-under 2 cups whipped cream)
  3. 2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound)
  4. 2 1/2 cups granulated pure-cane sugar
  5. 6 eggs
  6. 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  7. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp salt
  9. 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated
  10. 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Custard
  1. 6 large egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
  2. 2 cups whole milk 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  3. ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  4. For the Whipped Cream
  5. 1 pint heavy cream
  6. 2 Tbsp powdered sugar.
  7. For the Fruit Ingredients
  8. 3 pints fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and divided into two bowls: two pints in one bowl and one pint in the other
  9. 3 pints fresh blueberries, cleaned, stems and leaves removed and divided into two bowls; two pints in one bowl; one pint in the other.
  10. 4 Tbsp of sugar, divided
  1. Make pound cake: Whip cream. Store in refrigerator, covered. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating a full minute for each egg. Sift the flours together with salt. Alternate adding flours and whipped cream to the butter sugar mixture. Beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and grated nutmeg and beat just a bit more until no streaks show. Line two, 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ glass Pyrex bakers with parchment paper lengthwise and widthwise, leaving an overhang of paper all the way around. Divide batter between the two loaf pans. Place pans in a cold oven, rack set in the middle. Turn oven to 300 degrees and bake for 1 1/2 hours without opening oven. Open oven to check progress. From here, bake cake up to 1/2 hour (or even a little more) until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry.  Using the parchment paper overhangs, remove cake from pan and cool on a rack.
  2. Make Custard: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until light yellow and thick. Sift the flour into the bowl; whisk to combine. Set aside.In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat milk until bubbles form at the edge of the pan. (Milk will be quite warm, but not hot to the touch.) Remove milk from heat.Very slowly begin to pour the warm milk into the egg-sugar mixture, whisking vigorously. Continue to pour the milk into the egg-sugar mix, whisking until all is combined. Pour all of this back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk until the mixture thickens into pudding. Remove from heat, whisking vigorously until pudding is very smooth. Stir in butter and vanilla whisking again until smooth. Add the pinch of salt. Pour pudding into a bowl; press a layer of plastic wrap over the pudding, touching the surface of the pudding to ensure a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate while you prepare the fruit, whip the cream and trim the cake.
  3. Make Whipped Cream: Whip cream to soft peaks. Add powdered sugar. Refrigerate, covered.
  4. Prepare fruit and fruit sauces: Slice two pints of the strawberries into quarters (each strawberry cut into four pieces.) Set aside.
  5. For the strawberry sauce: Chop the remaining one pint of strawberries into small pieces. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Stir in two tablespoons of sugar. Set aside to allow the sugar and fruit juices to macerate. Stir occasionally.
  6. For the blueberry sauce: Place 1 pint of the blueberries in a saucepan over medium-heat. Mash a bit with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Heat, stirring until the blueberries release juice and darken to a pretty purple. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Trim Cakes: Cut sides, bottom and top of one of the cakes away. Save trim for snacking. You will now have a rectangle of poundcake without crust. Slice this into small cubes. Set aside. Slice the remaining cake into slices to serve alongside the trifle, or, if serving the trifle in individual portions, cut some of the second cake into wedges or fingers to garnish each individual trifle cup.
  8. To assemble trifle: Fill the bottom of the serving bowl with cake cubes. Pour the cooled vanilla custard over all. Layer the quartered strawberries over the custard. Layer the blueberries over the strawberries. Top the blueberries with whipped cream. Serve the strawberry and blueberry sauces, and extra slices of poundcake with the trifle.
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