Spring Berry Trifle for a Clam Bake

Perhaps because my dad owned his own business, my parents entertained a lot. My mom would make elaborate meals with tantalizing desserts that would make her audience, my dad's future clients and contacts, swoon. One such sweet ending was the ever-fresh, creamy mess called trifle. The first time I put a spoonful of trifle in my mouth, I wasn't so sure what was happening. Sweet, tart, light, was that alcohol I tasted? and creamy, trifle was different from the cobblers, cakes and pies mom normally made. But, it was impressive. Gorgeous to look at and kind of a jumble of flavors and colors, it was both fancy and dressed-down all at once. When my husband Jeremy and I were invited to a clam bake at Chef Tom and his wife Dani's house last weekend, it seemed it could be the perfect ending to a fabulous meal. And, if I was trying to impress Chef Tom a wee bit, who can blame me?

I can't say I'm really certain what effort goes into steaming shellfish, potatoes and corn, but let me assure you I earned our keep with this dessert and my mama would have been proud. Like the Pavlova I made recently, this was an all-day affair as it requires a cake, fruit sauce, custard and whipped cream, plus assembly and presentation. The Type A in me was in heaven! My recipe is based on Tartine's Summer Fruit Trifle, although I had to modify each step due either to ingredients I'd forgotten to buy, taste preference or what is in season. One thing I loved about this book is all the notes the chefs have made and advice they give along the way. Those things make complicated recipes totally do-able. This one is not particularly complicated, but does have quite a few moving parts and is really incredibly rewarding once it's on the table, spoons digging in and smiles spreading across the faces of friends and those you love.

Spring Berry Trifle (based on Tartine's Summer Fruit Trifle)
(all recipes & photos below)
One 12x17 sheet of Genoise Cake
3 C vanilla bean pastry cream
2 C raspberry sauce
4 C fresh or frozen mixed berries
2-1/2 C freshly whipped cream

Serves 14-16

Genoise Cake
(photos below) 

1 C + 2 T flour
3/4 C sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1/3 C + 1 T water
1 t vanilla
3/4 t grated lemon zest
5 large egg whites
1/4 t cream of tartar (or lemon juice)

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 12x17 baking sheet with a sheet of parchment that's been cut to fit. Do not use oil or butter on the pan or parchment as the extra fat will affect your batter.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, all but 3T of the sugar, the baking powder and the salt. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and whisk the egg yolk mixture in as quickly as you can until well blended.

Place the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add the cream of tartar (or lemon juice) and blend. With the mixer going, add the 3 tablespoons of sugar and beat until shiny, stiff peaks form. This can take up to 4 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about one third of the egg whites into the cake batter until blended. Repeat with the next third and then the next, until all the egg whites are incorporated. Spread onto your baking sheet as evenly as possible. Genoise tends to come out the same way it goes in, so, if it's lumpy going in, that's what you can expect to see coming out.

Bake 30-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool while you make the sauces.

Making Genoise.
Spreading Genoise batter into the pan. Try to spread it as evenly as possible.
Ready to bake.

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
(photos below)

1 C lowfat milk
1 C heavy cream
1 T vanilla bean paste
1/4 t salt
3 T cornstarch
1/2 C sugar
4 egg yolks
4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks

Set a bowl and fine mesh sieve on the counter.

Stirring constantly, heat the milk, salt and vanilla bean paste over medium-high heat just until the milk begins to boil. Remove from heat immediately.

Whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Add in the yolks and whisk until smooth.

Slowly ladle one cup of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you pour the milk in. This step is very important as you want to make sure to be mixing while adding the milk or else the eggs may cook and become icky. Whisk completely and then whisk the yolk mixture into the hot milk, stirring constantly until blended.

Continue whisking over medium heat until the custard thickens, 2-4 minutes depending upon your range. There may be a slow boil, but turn the heat down immediately if it gets any more vigorous. Gentle bubbles are ok.

Remove from the heat and run through the sieve. Then stir the chunks of butter in, one at a time, mixing completely before adding the next.

Place plastic wrap over top of the custard and set in the fridge until assembly of the trifle.

Raspberry Sauce
(photos below) 
3 C frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 C sugar
2 T water

Throw everything into the blender and mix until smooth. Strain if you'd like to remove the seeds. Set aside until assembly of the trifle. 

Raspberry sauce, straining.
Freshly Whipped Cream with Grand Marnier
1-3/4 C heavy cream
1/4 C sugar
1 T Grand Marnier or other sweet liquer

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until light, happy peaks form. 

Assemble the trifle (photos below).

Gather 16 mason jars, your cake and sauces and set up an assembly line. Cut the cake into 2" circles and start assembling in this order:
  1. Cake
  2. 3 T Raspberry Sauce
  3. 2-3 T Berries
  4. 3 T pastry cream
  5. 3 T whipped cream
Make 2 layers per jar, ending with the cream. If transporting, place the tops on the jars. If not, put the jars into the fridge and chill at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. These are all-in-one, ready to eat. Enjoy!

Ready to assemble!


I know, I know, I've probably lost most of you by now. For those who hung in to the end, you are true blue. Thank you!



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