Today I will show you how to make an easy layered strawberry trifle dessert that requires only 4 ingredients and no baking skills! But first…
Did you know?
The first use of the name “trifle” to describe a dessert appeared in Thomas Dawson’s 1585 book of English cookery “The Good Huswifes Jewell”.¹ The trifle evolved from a similar dessert known as a “fruit fool” (pureed stewed fruit folded into sweet custard) and at first the two names meant the same thing.²
In the United States, we have 4 (that’s right, 4!) days where you can make a strawberry trifle to celebrate:
- February 27: National Strawberry Day
- March 4: National Pound Cake Day
- June 7: Have Trifle for Breakfast Day
- June 14: National Strawberry Shortcake Day
Or just make it any time!
Our family loves getting together. We gather at one of my daughter’s houses, and we eat good food. While the hosts cook the main course, everyone else contributes too: an appetizer, a side dish, beverages, or dessert. I’m always tagged for desserts because, well, that’s what I do.
What To Make
So we were planning a gathering, and I had my latest go-to chocolate dessert planned. But I needed something for those non-chocolate folks (shocking but true. There are people who hate chocolate! The horror!). That’s when inspiration struck. A trifle! Mind you, I’d never made a trifle in my life. I didn’t own a trifle bowl. And I’ve only ever eaten from a trifle once (delicious). But how hard could this be? Cut up a store-bought pound cake, slice up fresh strawberries, add some whipped cream.
I scoured Pinterest for strawberry trifle recipes, finding plenty using vanilla pudding. But for this recipe I didn’t want the heaviness of pudding. I wanted light, evoking summer at our winter gathering. So I went to one of my go-to people for dessert inspiration, Lindsay over at Life, Love and Sugar and adapted her Strawberry Shortcake Trifle recipe. She uses homemade whipped cream in her trifle instead of pudding.
On the Merits of Cool Whip
Of course you can use Cool Whip instead of homemade whipped cream. If you love Cool Whip, or the thought of making homemade whipped cream makes you sweat, or you want to shave a few minutes off the prep time, then use Cool Whip. But homemade is so much better. I’ll walk you through it – I promise it’s not intimidating (and you’ll never go back to Cool Whip).
When to Make It
The big question was: when do I make it? I realized that assembling the day before could cause it to become one big soggy mess. The internet weighed in on both sides. Knowing I didn’t have any time the next day, I said a prayer and put it together the day before our gathering. And you know what? It was just fine. I think the key is keeping the ingredients of the trifle chilled before, during, and after assembly.
You will only need four ingredients to make this dessert:
- Two Entenmann’s All Butter Pound Cake loaves: the day before you plan to assemble the trifle, freeze the pound cakes – this will give you clean, crumb-free cuts when you go to slice it up. While you’re at it, also freeze the bowl you will be using to make the whip cream (I prefer metal, but glass will work also) as well as the beaters from your hand mixer or the whisk attachment from your stand mixer.
- Two pounds of strawberries: make sure you have refrigerated these beforehand.
- One pint of heavy whipping cream: cold, of course.
- One cup of powdered sugar.
Assembling the Trifle
The first thing you want to do is cut your pound cake. I cut each loaf into six equally-sized slices, then I cut each slice into six equally-sized cubes. Place some of the cubes in a single-layer in the bottom of your trifle bowl. Put the trifle bowl in the refrigerator while you work on the strawberries.
Rinse and pat dry your strawberries, and remove the leaves. Cut each strawberry in half lengthwise. Put a layer of strawberries on top of the cake cubes in your trifle dish.
Next up is the whipped cream. If you’re using Cool Whip, spread an even layer on top of the strawberries, about an inch thick. If you want to make homemade whipped cream, read on!
How to Make Whipped Cream
- Chill baby!
Make sure that you put your mixing bowl, your mixer beaters, or the whisk attachment from your stand mixer in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before you start the process. And keep your heavy cream refrigerated up until you’re ready to use it.
- Mise en place (French for “putting in place”).
This is just a fancy way of saying get your ingredients measured out ahead of time. My ratio for whipped cream is 2:1 – so 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part powdered sugar. For this recipe, I use 2 cups heavy cream to 1 cup powdered sugar.
- Assemble your mixer.
- Put your ingredients into the mixer bowl.
It is not necessary to wait to add the powdered sugar until after you’ve started whipping the heavy cream. Go ahead and put both in the bowl at the beginning.
- Whip it good!
Starting out on a low speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form (increasing the speed of the mixer gradually while whipping). This can take anywhere from 2-5 minutes, depending on the speed you’re using on your mixer. You will visually see the cream change form, and, when it’s ready, you will see noticeable tracks in the whipped cream made by the beaters. It should look like this (photo credit: bakerbettie.com):
- Stiff peaks look like this (photo credit: dishinanddishes.com):
- Your whipped cream is ready to use!
Repeat the process for the second layer: cake cubes, strawberries, whipped cream. If you have extra strawberries, you can put those on top of the whipped cream for an even prettier presentation!
My first trifle was an astounding success! It assembled picture perfect, traveled well, held up until dessert time, and everyone loved it. I mean loved it. As in there was nothing left!
I hope you enjoy this strawberry trifle as much as my family did.
¹The Good Huswifes Jewell, World Cat, Retrieved June 7, 2015
²“Three British Desserts: Syllabub, Fool and Trifle”. Article by Diana Serbe. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
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