I love using fresh fruit in summer desserts. One way to enjoy I love to enjoy summer fruit (besides eating it out of hand) is to include it in a trifle.

Last summer I made a Red, White and Blue Trifle for the 4th of July.  It was so delicious and fun I decided to make it again this year.  I’ve included the recipe below and a few ideas on how you can put together a great summer trifle.

We love trifle. Trifle is an English dessert that originated out of using up bits of sponge cake, custard, a little dribble of booze (or a lot), and jam or fruit. (I’m paraphrasing here.) It has since evolved.

I like to make trifle for special occasions. Really, the sky is the limit on this dessert. You can take shortcuts, if you like, but taking the time to make things from scratch will give you the very best trifle. For instance, we never make ours with pudding, but you can. I will still like you, I promise.

For summertime I like to use lemon curd in place of a custard.  From there you can add in whatever combo of summer fruit you can find.  And it’s up to you if you choose to add the splash of booze or not.  (I don’t do this if I know there will be kids eating it.)

Note: The trifle shown in the picture is a bit smaller than a normal trifle made in a trifle dish.  I don’t own a traditional trifle dish, so I used a straight-sided glass bowl.  You may need to make adjustments to the recipe according to the size of your bowl.  You may not need all the cake, or other ingredients.  It’s okay.  They are perfect for snacking.

Red, White and Blue Trifle


1 prepared recipe sour cream pound cake, sliced or cubed (recipe follows)
1 prepared recipe lemon curd, chilled (recipe follows)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
16 oz. fresh strawberries, sliced
2 pints fresh blueberries


Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add the heavy cream and continue beating until thick. Chill until ready to assemble trifle.


Layer in a trifle dish or large bowl–

Half the sliced pound cake–use smaller pieces to fill in the gaps
Half the lemon curd
One third of the blueberries and strawberries
Half the whipped cream mixture

Repeat with the remaining cake, lemon curd, another 1/3 of the berries, and whipped cream. Top with the remaining 1/3 strawberries and blueberries.

Let chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Serves a bunch.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

adapted from The Joy of Cooking

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
6 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8″ square baking pans or a 9″ Bundt pan.

Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continuing beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Don’t skimp on this step.)

Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating for at least 1 minute between additions. Add the vanilla extract.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, beat just until it disappears into the creamed mixture. Add 1/2 of the sour cream. Beat to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and sour cream, making sure to end with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar a little at a time. Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Carefully fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter using a large rubber or silicone spatula. (It’s okay if there are some streaks of egg white. This is to lighten the batter before the remaining egg whites are added.)

Add the remaining egg whites by gently folding, being careful not to deflate the whites.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. If using 8″ square pans, bake for about 35-40 minutes. (Don’t open the oven at all during the first 30 minutes or the cake will fall in the center.) If using the bundt pan, bake for 60-75 minutes. Tent the pans with foil if the top browns too quickly. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes in pan before removing the cake to a wire rack to finish cooling. Cake gets better the longer it sits. Be sure to wrap it well in foil or plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.

Lemon Curd

from my husband’s aunt

Juice of 3 lemons
Zest of 3 lemons
1 cup granulated sugar
3 whole eggs
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

In a bowl, rub the lemon zest with the sugar until wet and sandy. Whisk in the eggs. Add the juice. Add the melted butter.

Transfer the mixture to a stainless steel (or other non-reactive) pan. Cook over medium heat while whisking constantly until the curd thickens. (It will be about the consistency of thin yogurt.) Quickly remove from heat. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface and chill until ready to use.


Cakes you can use for trifle:

Angel Food Cake
Sponge Cake
Chiffon Cake
Butter Cakes (chocolate, yellow, white, coconut, spice, etc.)
Pound Cake (if you decide to purchase it, make sure it’s a good one)
Leftover cupcakes
Gingerbread (this is great with lemon curd and cream)
Brownies (I’ve seen this done, but haven’t tried it myself)
Lady Fingers
Crumbled hard cookies–shortbread, amaretti, etc.

For the creamy layer:

Cream Cheese mixed with whipped cream
Vanilla or flavored whipped cream
Chocolate Mousse (bittersweet, milk, or white)
Homemade or store-bought pudding
Pastry Cream (plain or flavored)
Ricotta mixed with a little sugar

For the fruity layer(s):

Fruit curds–lemon, lime, passion fruit, pineapple, etc.
Fruit butters–apple, pumpkin, rhubarb
Sliced or whole fruit–apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, cherries, apricots, plums, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, banana, etc.

Other fun additions:

Chopped candy bars or cookies
Nuts–pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds
Caramel, chocolate sauce, marshmallow cream
miniature marshmallows
Maraschino cherries


*Raspberry-Peach Melba–vanilla sponge or pound cake, sliced peaches, raspberries, whipped cream or vanilla custard (splash of raspberry liqueur)

*Black Forrest–chocolate cake, poached cherries (or bottle pie filling), whipped cream and/or vanilla custard, toasted almonds

*Pina Colada–coconut cake, pineapple curd, coconut custard/pastry cream, fresh pineapple slices, toasted coconut (splash of dark rum)

*Aunt Robin’s Tropical Trifle–coconut cake, tropical fruit (lychee, mango, papaya, kiwi, passion fruit), custard/pudding, whipped cream/Cool Whip (she sometimes uses Twinkies, but I prefer cake)

*Rainbow Trifle–layer cake with cream and fruit of every color of the rainbow (strawberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries)

*Stone Fruit Trifle–almond cake or cookies, cream/custard, stone fruits (cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, etc.), toasted almonds, (a splash of amaretto)

*Liza’s Toffee Trifle–chocolate cake, caramel sauce and/or hot fudge, chopped Heath or Skor bars, whipped cream

*Baklava Trifle–honey cake, cardamom or rose water cream/custard, toasted pistachios or walnuts, apples or pears

*S’mores Trifle–brown sugar/honey cake (or chocolate cake), chocolate sauce, marshmallows (or marshmallow cream), chocolate chunks/chips, whipped cream. topped with graham cracker crumbs

More Trifle Ideas


(picture–Pina Colada Trifle)

*Make individual servings in tall, straight-sided glasses or individual trifle dishes (wine glasses also work for this)

*Have a trifle bar–let guests make their own trifle.  Set out various ingredients in buffet fashion and supply a bowl or large glass for each person.