Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leftover cake? What a trifle!

 I found myself with a bowlful of leftover cake yesterday, due to a lot of cake-trimming for an Oscars potluck dish. Red velvet cake, no less. I couldn't just let all that good cake go to waste! (Believe me, in this house, cake NEVER goes to waste, but I was feeling a might bit creative.) Though there are many great uses for leftover cake, including the ever-popular cake pops by the divine miss Bakerella, I decided to go with an old stand-by my mother taught me, the English trifle.
I took all of that beautiful crumb and cut it up into pieces. They don't have to be bite-sized, but make your cake bits manageable enough to ease the building of the trifle later on. I had all the trimmings from a jelly roll pan, plus mini cupcakes I baked to use up the extra batter that did not fit in the pan. (In case you're wondering, I got the recipe for the red velvet cake from Bakerella as well. If you aren't yet familiar with her sweets, you NEED to go see her site. NOW.)
 Trifle needs fruit to add to the melange of flavors and textures the dessert showcases. Since I was already going with a red theme, I decided to slice up a box of strawberries I had in the fridge, also left over from the Oscars potluck.

On a side note, the strawberries available in Quebec this winter have been exceptionally good, and if you happen to find yourself up here in the snow, might I suggest trying some? I know they're very imported, but the flavor has gotten much better in recent years. Nothing like those red-on-the-outside, white-in-the-middle excuses for fruit we use to get from Florida. But I digress...
This dessert needs something wet to hold it together, like the mortar between bricks. You can use any kind of pudding, custard, whipped cream or whipped topping for this application, but I like to mix custard and whipped cream to make a lighter, creamier filling. Yes, I make my custard from a mix. So sue me, I like the ease.
 After the custard is cooled, I fold in sweetened whipped cream, again left over from the Oscars potluck. What did I not have leftover from that potluck?! Anyway, now that the key trifle components are prepared, it's time to begin the assembly!
 First a layer of cake pieces go into the bottom of my trifle bowl. If you don't have a trifle bowl, use a glass bowl, a fish bowl, a flower vase, anything transparent. You want to see the layers of goodness.
 Next, the cake is drizzled with a liqueur that compliments the flavors of the dish, be it rum, cherry kirsch, amaretto, creme de cassis, whatever you like. Another good drizzler is jam, melted a little first, to add that hint of sweetness, and moisten the cake ever so slightly. I did a mix of raspberry jam and creme de cassis in my trifle.
I spread a layer of my custard-whipped cream mixture over the cake, trying to mush it into all the cracks and crevices.
On top of the custard cream, I placed a layer of sliced strawberries.
That's one layer. Cake, liqueur and jam drizzle, custard cream and berries. This layering gets repeated until there are not more ingredients left, finishing with cream to create a smooth top.
I managed three layers of trifle-y goodness, oozing with juicy berries. So yummy.
I saved a few strawberry slices to decorate the top of the trifle - that's why finishing with a smooth cream layer is a good  idea.
That's it! The trifle goes in the fridge for a little to chill, but you could also serve it right away. Don't forget to cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out and you can easily keep it for a few days - that is, if you don't eat it all in one sitting! Now go make some!

For more trifle-making deliciousness, check here.

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