This fruit trifle is made up of layers of super light and fluffy angel food cake, fresh berries and their juices, vanilla pastry cream and silky chantilly cream.
Why you’ll love this fruit trifle
- Angel food cake is the lightest and most airy type of sponge and pairs perfectly with the fruit, pastry cream and chantilly cream.
- The cake and the creams both serve well chilled so the textures are spot on.
- This pastry cream recipe is simple and the chantilly cream is quite literally the easiest cream on the planet to make.
- Super versatile – you can use different types of sponges/cream/fruits, etc. and flavor them differently because there are NO RULES when it comes to trifles.
What is a trifle
A trifle is an English dessert that’s made up of layers of cake, fruit and cream. It can be made SO many different ways, with or without the fruit. A traditional recipe would include sponge cakes soaked in wine or fruit juice, fresh fruit and/or fruit spread, pastry cream and whipped cream.
It’s generally served in a tall glass dish – like a giant parfait but fear not, if you don’t have one, you can make it in a large bowl or a large pan as well.
I cubed an angel food cake for this trifle because I wanted it to be light as a feather. You can use any type of cake but I recommend a sponge cake that’s more squishy for the best texture. My daffodil cake is a GREAT option, you can download that below. A biscuit sponge or a hot milk sponge would also be phenomenal.
I paired it with none other than a combo of pastry cream and chantilly cream because they just go together phenomenally (mixing them would give you diplomat cream which would also be delicious!!).
As for the fruits, you can use whatever your heart desires. I went with a mix of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. I recommend at least 16 ounces of fruit but I prefer 20-24 ounces.
- Flour: Angel food cake is super delicate and requires cake flour. It can technically be subbed for all-purpose flour but you’ll risk a more “rubbery” texture because there’s a higher protein content and we’re already working with a cake made of only egg whites and no fat.
- I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured.
- If you do sub the cake flour for all-purpose flour, sub 1 Tbsp of the flour for cornstarch.
- My favorite cake flour is King Arthurs; I find that some other ones taste kind of funny…
- Sugar: granulated sugar can be used for the cake, the chantilly cream and the pastry cream. I don’t recommend reducing it.
- Eggs: Angel food cake uses all egg whites but you’ll need half of the egg yolks for the pastry cream so save those!
- Heavy Cream: Heavy whipping cream (or double cream) is used to make the chantilly cream.
- Make sure to use something between 35%-45% fat. I haven’t tried a dairy free cream but if you have a dairy free heavy cream or whipped topping you like, feel free to use that instead.
- Milk: I recommend a full-fat milk for the pastry cream but 2% will also do.
- Cornstarch: this is used to thicken the pastry cream.
- Vanilla: The main flavor here is vanilla so I like to use vanilla bean paste. Vanilla extract and vanilla beans also work, the higher the quality the better the flavor.
- Fruit: I used strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries – I let them macerate with lemon juice and a little sugar to bring out the juices so we can drizzle that on the cakes.
Step 1: Start making the cake by beating the egg whites with the sugar until it’s a thick fluffy meringue that forms SOFT peaks.
Step 2: Add the vanilla and sift the flour on top of the meringue, mix the flour just until the last streak is combined (you can fold it with a spatula or mix with the beater on medium-low speed – don’t over mix).
Step 3: Distribute the batter between two UN-GREASED (8 or 9 inch) pans OR spread it into a tube pan (17-18 ounces each) and bake for about 25 minutes (or 35 in a tube pan). The top will be a pale golden color and bounce back when you press on it.
Step 4: Remove the pans from the oven and flip upside down onto a cooling rack/tray. Let the cakes cool upside down in the pan (they won’t fall out if the pan wasn’t greased) until they’ve COMPLETELY cooled. If they’re even still slightly warm, angel food cake will sink/shrivel up if you take it out.
Step 5: Meanwhile, slice the berries and place them into a bowl with the sugar and the lemon juice. Toss them around for a minute and then let them rest while the cake cools.
Step 6: Make the pastry cream by whisking together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until they’re completely smooth.
Step 7: Gently heat the milk and then temper the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes, whisking continuously. Once it starts to thicken, whisk aggressively for a minute and then pour into a bowl with the butter and vanilla.
Step 8: Once the butter melts into the pastry cream, it may separate a little but it’ll come back together as you whisk it. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Step 9: Use a butter knife to release the cooled cake from the pan and then remove the cake. Slice the cake into 1×1 inch cubes and set aside.
Step 10: Make the chantilly cream – sift the sugar in a bowl and add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla bean paste. Whip the cream until it’s thick and fluffy and just when it reaches a stiff peak. Don’t over-beat or it won’t be smooth anymore (and can turn into butter lol). If you over-beat slightly, add a touch more cream and fold just until it’s combined.
Step 11: Strain the fruit from its liquid and begin assembling.
Step 12: Place the first layer of cakes on the bottom of the dish – just enough to fully cover the bottom, packed in a little (I recommend 6 ounces of angel food cake for each cake layer). Then drizzle 3-4 Tbsp of the juice left from the berries onto the cakes.
Step 13: Layer on ⅓ of the pastry cream (do a little more than I did in the photo lol), followed by a layer of fruit. I recommend about 7 ounces of fruit or ⅓ of however much you have.
Step 14: Top with a generous layer of whipped cream and repeat until you reach the top. I did three layers of each followed by a few berries on top. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or overnight, so it can all settle in the bowl.
This fruit trifle is best served cold or slightly chilled.
What can I make ahead of time?
The chantilly cream must be made fresh when using it.
The fruit should be sliced a few hours before assembling – best if done the same day though.
The pastry cream can be made a few days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.
The cake can be made in advance. If it’s 1 day, cover it or wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it’s cooled and leave it at room temperature. If it’s longer, refrigerate for a few days or freeze the cake for up to a few weeks. Bring the cake back to room temperature and slice before assembling.
Expert tips on getting the perfect cake
- Don’t swap ingredients unless I mentioned them in the ingredient section above.
- Don’t over-mix the cake or the cream at any stage.
- Don’t reduce the sugar in the cake or the cream (I promise it’s not overly sweet).
- Weigh the ingredients with a digital scale.
- Don’t skip sifting the sugar and flour.
- Weigh the batter for each cake to make them even (17-18 ounces each).
- Use a light colored stainless steel cake pan for a more even bake and browning.
- Don’t rush the cooling process for cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can use any type of fruit in a trifle. Kiwis, raspberries, bananas, etc. If it’s not juicy, like berries, you may want to consider making a simple syrup or using a fruit juice. It’s not entirely necessary, the trifle will still be delicious without it but if you want the cake to be even more moist and flavorful that’s an option.
You definitely can. I used 18 ounces of cake to give you a rough estimate but the density of the cake can definitely make them weigh differently. A store bought angel food cake would work perfectly or even a boxed mix if you want to make that instead.
You definitely can – I always recommend Cool Whip over other brands. Make sure to thaw it in the fridge before using it.
You can make or buy vanilla pudding instead of making the pastry cream – you may need 2-3 packs of pudding.
How to store a trifle
Cover the trifle with foil and refrigerate for up to a week – best if eaten within 3-4 days though.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.
If you make this fresh berry trifle, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me. If it’s less than five stars, please leave a comment with the rating so I know why! 🙂
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Fresh Fruit Trifle
Angel Food Cake
- 12 large egg whites room temperature
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice OR 1 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated or superfine sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 1/4 cup (144g) cake flour spooned and leveled
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 6 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (90g) granulated sugar scant cup
- 2 cups (480mL/16oz ) milk
- 6 Tbsp (84g) salted butter room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar spooned and leveled (OR 1/4 cup/50g granulated sugar)
- tiny pinch fine sea salt
- 2 cups (18oz) heavy whipping cream cold (18 ounces in weight, not fluid ounces)
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste OR vanilla extract
- 20-24 oz fresh mixed berries strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
- 1/4 cup (60mL/2oz) lemon juice juice of 1 large lemon
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
Angel Food Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F/176C convection (325F/163C conventional) and line two un-greased 8 inch baking pans with parchment paper or use a tube pan.
- Make sure to clean your pan, metal bowl and whisk for the stand mixer well. I wipe it with a little vinegar after cleaning to make sure there is no greasy residue.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of the stand mixer with the lemon juice (or cream of tarter) and turn the mixer up to medium-high speed.12 large egg whites, 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Beat for a minute or so and when the egg whites look frothy, stream the sugar into the bowl with the mixer going. It should take about a minute to get all the sugar in slowly.1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated or superfine sugar
- Continue beating for a few minutes, just until the meringue reaches a soft peak (see image in blog post). Add the vanilla and mix again just until it's combined.2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Sift in the cake flour and salt, turn the mixer up to medium-low speed, just until the flour is mostly combined, about 30-60 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the edge of the bowl and fold the batter a couple more times until it's well combined.1 1/4 cup (144g) cake flour, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- Spread the cake into two UN-GREASED 8 inch cake pans. Make sure to spread the batter evenly with an offset spatula or spoon because the lack of fat will prevent it from spreading and if left uneven, it will bake uneven.
- Bake for about 25 minutes. Press gently on the top center and there should be a slight bounce/resistance and no wet batter.
- Remove from the oven and flip over onto a cooling rack (not a flat surface or it will sweat) and allow it to cool completely to room temperature, 1-2 hours.
- Slice the fruit as desired – I sliced everything to about the size of an average blueberry.20-24 oz fresh mixed berries
- Toss in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice and let it rest for a while.1/4 cup (60mL/2oz) lemon juice, 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- Before assembling, strain the fruits from their juice and keep both.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt aggressively for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture becomes smooth and runny, with no more chunks.2 large eggs, 6 Tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 cup (90g) granulated sugar
- In a medium saucepan (preferably stainless steel or nonstick – avoid aluminum), heat the milk over medium heat, just until it comes to a simmer.2 cups (480mL/16oz ) milk
- Temper the eggs by streaming half of the milk into the egg mixture while continuing to whisk.
- Dump the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, while whisking continuously.
- Within 1-3 minutes, the mixture should start to thicken, continue whisking.
- Once it's starting to stick to the pan, whisk aggressively for another 30-60 seconds. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl with the butter and vanilla.6 Tbsp (84g) salted butter, 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
- Allow the heat from the pastry cream to melt the butter for a second and then gently whisk it. It may separate at first but it'll come back together as you whisk it.
- The pastry cream should be smooth and silky now, if you have any lumps, feel free to push it though a sieve.
- Sift the powdered sugar and salt into the bowl of the stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer).1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar, tiny pinch fine sea salt
- Add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla bean paste on top and beat at medium-low speed for about 1-2 minutes, until it starts to thicken.2 cups (18oz) heavy whipping cream, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating for another 1-2 minutes, until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't over-beat passed this.
- Use the rubber spatula to scrape the edge of the bowl and fold it a couple of times to make it smooth and silky.
- Once the angel food cake has cooled completely, use a large serrated knife to slice it into 1 inch cubes.
- Spread 1/3 of the angel food cake into the trifle dish and drizzle 2-3 Tbsp of the fruit juice on top.
- Spread 1/3 of the pastry cream on top, followed by 1/3 of the fruit and 1/3 of the chantilly cream. Repeat with the rest of the layers.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour to set and serve fresh!