Friday, June 10, 2011

A taste of spring: Strawberry and apricot trifle

Once again, I find myself at a loss when I think about where spring went. With all the rain, I feel like I missed out. Spring is one of the few times in Montreal when the sun is warm, the wind is cool, and the humidity is low. Today is a perfect example of that, though we just went through a bout of rain, and hot, humid weather to get here. I guess spring can be pretty unpredictable.

In the kitchen, I took full advantage of spring, cooking and baking with spring ingredients (like fiddleheads and rhubarb) whenever possible. There are still loads of spring recipes that I'd like to play with. Thankfully, I still have a few more weeks. And now, a few early Quebec strawberries are trickling into the market stalls, which means we can officially make strawberry rhubarb pies with local fruits. Quebec strawberries are quite different from the jumbo-sized California strawberries (no offense to them, we do appreciate their year-round presence in grocery stores). Unlike those, the strawberries from Quebec are petite, bursting with flavor, and look just like a strawberry should like like

What I love about trifle is that every trifle is different because depending on the time of year, the fruits, and the flavors of the fruits used, can vary tremendously. This trifle tastes just like end of spring to me because I used the first berries of the Quebec strawberry crop. This early in the season, they are gorgeously red, firm, and delightfully tangy. The apricots (though imported from Frog Hollow Farm in California) are also best this time of year.

The perfect bite of trifle features all its components: boozy cake, fruit, and whipped cream. You need to literally dig deep to get it all in every bite. It's one of the best desserts for the spring-summer season because trifle is a great way of fancying up the fresh fruits of the season, without cooking them down or overpowering them with sugar. After eating a helping of trifle, I think it might actually be my favorite spring-summer dessert. Seriously! In my family, every trifle starts with a spongy Zilla's cake. I've republished the recipe here to record the measurements in grams and in cups.

Zilla's cake
Makes one loaf

  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (190 grams) granulated sugar, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) skim milk
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9x5-inch loaf pan by generously greasing and coating it with granulated sugar (just as you would with flour). Set aside for later.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,  beat the eggs and the granulated sugar until the mixture is airy and lightened in color (this takes a few minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, microwave the milk with the butter so that the butter melts and the mixture is warm (I do this for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between).
  5. To the egg mixture, alternate adding the dry ingredients (one third at a time) with the warm milk mixture (half at a time), beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40–45 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the sides, and a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Set the pan to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it right away (or it will stick!) and let cool completely before serving.
Spiked mascarpone cream
Adapted from here (originally), and then here

  • 1 package (250 grams) mascarpone
  • 3/4 cup (188 mL) 35% whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1–2 tbsp sweet liqueur (I used Gélinotte, but sherry or amaretto would also be perfect, or even just a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the mascarpone, cream, and sugar on low to combine, then increase the speed to whip it into soft or semi-stiff peaks (as you like, basically, just don't overwhip it).

Strawberry and apricot trifle


Makes about 4–6 individual trifles, but there will be leftover cake for snacks and breakfast late

  • 1 Zilla's cake, sliced
  • More booze (I used Gélinotte again, but sherry is great!)
  • ~ 6 apricots, diced
  • ~ 400 grams strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 batch of spiked mascarpone cream
  • 4–6 glasses or small jam jars
  1. Fit a layer of cake in each glass. 
  2. Sprinkle the cake with a teaspoon or so of booze.
  3. Top with a spoonful or two of fruits
  4. Add a scoop of mascarpone cream.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 so that you have two layers of everything. Don't be shy to press down a little.
  6. Top  the final cream layer with a pretty berry.


  1. This trifle is simply beautiful. We are still waiting on spring-like weather here... we were teased, then the marine layer of fog came in and has left us drizzly, chilly and gray for days.
    Apricots and strawberries are two of my all time favorites and a perfect combo. Nicely done!

  2. Gorgeous booze cake! Those apricots looks like they smell like heaven :) Buzzed!

  3. Oh yum!! Boozy cake? Fruit? Cream? I want this for dessert tonight!

  4. this looks wonderfully delicious lovely trifle

  5. this is soooo cute!!! I love all your flavors here! We had a very short lived spring as well!

  6. I love your simple vanilla cake! And what a great idea to spike the mascarpone. Looks fabulous!

  7. peach, strawberry, mascarpone, oh yes! yes! yes!
    your trifle looks amazing, you'd love to dig in.
    Thanks for sharing

    Happy Sunday

  8. The trifle sounds terrific!! And the photos are beautiful!

  9. Looks delicious. Great photos too.

  10. That looks delicious! I am used to see the chocolate version, but i looove yours!

  11. @Valerie Oh my! I've never made a chocolate trifle before. That must be great!

  12. Wow, this trifle looks yummy, thanks for sharing
    Christmas Trifle Recipes