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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Joys of Trifle

If you've baked more than three cakes in your life, the odds are good that you've completely screwed up at least one of them.  You have experienced that brief, fleeting moment of delight when you are convinced it's going to release perfectly from the bottom of the pan, but when you pull the pan away, a huge chunk is missing - clinging to the bottom of the pan for all it's worth.  Now you can scrape it off, slap it back into the hole, and hope no one notices...not that I speak from personal experience or anything, but another option, and my favorite, is to turn it into a trifle.

What is trifle?  Traditionally a trifle is a sponge cake, soaked in port, sherry, or wine, a layer of custard, a layer of fruit, and a layer of whipped cream.  But, I'm not very traditional. 

A trifle bowl isn't necessary as you could use any large glass bowl, preferably clear so you can see the layers.  I bought mine at Wal-Mart for about $10, which I thought was totally worth it.  I happened to have the crumbled pieces of a Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme cake in the freezer.  (It was originally baked as a castle cake for my daughter's birthday, but refused to come out of the pan.  I literally had to dig it out of the cake pan with a I saved it for trifle.)  I let the cake thaw, and then put some bite-size cake chunks on the bottom of the trifle bowl.  Next, I layered a cup and a half of Jell-O Instant Banana pudding (the big box, the one that takes 3 cups of milk) over the cake.  The next layer was pineapple (I used fresh, but canned would be fine), followed by half of an 8oz. container of whipped cream.  Then I repeated the layers of cake, pudding, fruit, and whipped cream, and topped it with flaked coconut and garnished with cherries.
And it was fabulous.

If I'd had some bananas, I would have chopped them up and added them to the fruit layer, and if you aren't a  coconut person, it could easily be left out.  The wonderful thing about trifle is that you can mix-and-match your flavors.  Cake, fruit, pudding and whipped cream...any combination.  You can even leave out either the fruit or the pudding layer.  Chocolate cake and cherry pie filling? Yum.  Chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, and bits of peppermint candy? Awesome for Christmas.  Angel Foodcake, chocolate pudding and strawberries, or Yellow Cake and peaches, Devils Food and Pistachio Pudding... whatever you like.  Top it with chopped nuts, chocolate chips, cherries, or pieces of fruit, or heck, all off the above.

Because it's so pretty, all those nice colorful layers, it's a great dessert to take to a pot-luck.  It looks like you worked really hard on a beautiful dessert, when all you really did was dump a lot of stuff in a bowl.  Easy is awesome...and pretty!  So the next time you ruin a cake, throw it in a freezer bag and save it for a trifle, just don't eat the whole thing yourself.

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