The simplicity of trifle

Sometimes a bit of custard with fruit and sponge cake is all it takes to make me happy.

I am a trifle kind of girl, indeed.

My freezer is full of scraps of cake, unbaked crumble topping, and cookie dough. Any of those can make a spectacular trifle with fresh fruit, a bit of mascarpone with vanilla bean, or if you have 20 minutes, vanilla custard.

Even better.

Today was the last day of school and this afternoon, Jon, Miren and I made a simple trifle. They devoured it.

Vanilla bean custard, lemon cake, Rainier cherries, sliced saturn peaches, and a touch of soft-peak cream.

They sliced, whipped, and assembled.

Then long spoons in hand, we sat next to the window watching the rain downpour – torrential rain. And these trifles tasted even better.

Simple, simple, simple.

Rainier cherry, Saturn peach, vanilla custard, and lemon cake trifles

Lemon sponge cake

3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup (100 g) natural cane sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons (25 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (45 g) millet flour
1/3 cup (35 g) almond flour

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment and grease the sides with a bit of melted butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup (50 g) natural cane sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Whip the egg yolk mixture in high speed until they are thick and pale, about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites with the sea salt. When the egg whites are whipped and start forming peaks, gradually add in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in three batches.

Fold a third of the egg whites into the egg yolk batter until they are well mixed. Fold in the rest of the egg whites being very careful not to deflate the batter. Fold in the melted butter and the millet and almond flour carefully not to deflate too much. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until top is golden. It will feel springy.

Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a plate, and let it cool completely. Cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and reserve.

Vanilla Custard

2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 g) natural cane sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
4 teaspoons cornstarch

In a medium saucepan, heat the whole milk, half of the sugar, and vanilla bean over medium high heat until it simmers.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, rest of sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Add the coconut milk and whisk.

Add a bit of the warm milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Add all the milk and whisk. Return the custard base to the saucepan and cook until it thickens while whisking constantly. Remove from heat and pour into clean bowl to cool slightly. I like to use custard while still a bit warm, but you can refrigerate it at this point. make sure you cover it with plastic wrap (the plastic must touch the custard so it doesn’t form a skin).

Assemble the trifle

8 ounces Rainier cherries, pitted
2 saturn peaches, pitted and sliced
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 cups vanilla custard
2 cups diced lemon sponge cake

Layer the ingredients amongst 4 glasses and serve immediately.

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78 Responses to “The simplicity of trifle”

  1. MandaJ says:

    Absolutely could snack on peaches and bing cherries all day!
    Eat Cake

  2. Nisrine says:

    Trifles are delicious and sooo simple to put together. This one is quite lovely and refreshing for the warm days ahead.

  3. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but haven’t commented until now. You do such beautiful work. It really is inspiring.

  4. Victoria says:

    Delightful and so easy. I’m definitely going to whip up some of these at the weekend.

  5. Wow, can I come and live in your house? :) I love a good fruit trifle/parfait, yours looks delicious!

  6. Kim says:

    J’adore aussi les trifles, ils sont un dessert que j’aime bien manger!!!! superbe recette toute simple avec des beaux fruits de saison (du moins, chez vous)!

  7. Oh yes…..a trifle never fails to bring a smile!! That rain was something else. Can’t believe summer is already here.

  8. Valentina says:

    Thanks for the recipe, it is now just right. Cherry just lovely, sweet is she? wondering how much it costs? we have it within three hundred rubles ..

  9. diana says:

    This looks beautiful! I love trifle but I haven’t made one since I gave up gluten. I can’t wait to try it!

    One question, because folding beaten egg whites in is a method I’m trying to practice: how stiffly should the white be beaten by the time all the sugar is incorporated? Should they be stiff peaks or still soft?

  10. I adore trifles. I like to add a few drops of orange liquer to the cake beforehand to soften and flavor it up a bit. Yum!

  11. I am a trifle addict and make it all year round! A simple yet refined treat. Yours looks amazing!



  12. tinajo says:

    Oh my, this looks so beautiful and tempting! :-)

  13. What a truly pretty trifle…we take our trifles very seriously in Australia an this one ounds delicious!!

  14. Iratxe says:

    Como todas las cosas sencillas ¡perfecto, perfecto, perfecto!. Qué momento maravilloso, una merienda deliciosa para disfrutar de una gran tormenta. Muxuak,

  15. Carmen says:

    Yo veo estas recetas y me muero de ganas de ponerme ya a hacerlo pero y que haces con todas las claras que sobran? bso

  16. Carmen says:

    Ay otra pregunta el cake de limon de puede congelar? gracias

  17. Laura says:

    I love the simplicity of it. Today I wanted to make an elegant tarte but when I came home I ended up making a very simple “trifle-type” dessert instead…It must be in the air ;)

  18. ALITA: says:

    disfrutar de las pequeñas cosas… ese es mi lema! y mucho mejor si te acompañan tus hijos y un postre delicioso ;)

  19. Jo Hodson says:

    what beautiful photos! I love love love trifle…but i have yet come up with a good vegan recipe! I may need to work on that now you’ve just tantalised my taste buds :-)

  20. Giulia says:

    I love making trifle in the summer and it’s also a great potluck dessert to bring. I serve it in a large glass pedestal bowl and it looks great. My other summer favorite is an Eton Mess…berries and Meringue, can’t go wrong with that!

  21. Alexandra says:

    Looks delicious, as always. I can taste the tartness and the creaminess just by looking at your pictures. Aran, I also have a question, have you ever tried socca? I was just introduced to it by a friend and fell in love with it at first bite (although it has nothing to do with trifles). If you’ve never had it, I think you might like it (it’s gluten free and vegan) and opens up the world to many possibilities. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe and my whole family loved it.

  22. Diana- when you beat the egg whites, they are supposed to be light and already creating a bit of a ripple effect before you start adding the sugar. This will prevent them from deflating and also make sure to add the sugar gradually. then finish whipping them until glossy but not to stiff or they will be hard to fold into the yolk mixture. Hope this helps.

    Carmen- las claras valen para hacer meringues, financiers, macarons… Se piueden mantener en el frigorifico hasta una semana despues de separarlos. Tambien se pueden congelar y valen para financiers aunque no para montarlas. Y si, el bizcocho se puede congelar (todos los bizcochos cocidos se pueden congelar que es lo que hago yo muchas veces)

    Thank you everyone!

  23. Wow just such a simple but yummy idea! I always have scraps of randoms too and I love fresh fruit. The sun has been out for a whole week now over in UK, I will be making variations on this delicious looking trifle – why did I not try it before! Thanks for sharing :)

  24. this sounds and looks wonderful, refreshing. how i can not wait to be fully submerged in fruit season!

  25. Rebecca says:

    Oh how I miss those torrential rainstorms in FL. Watching the water pour off the roof was so mesmerizing! I imagine the trifles were the perfect snack for a rainy day. Beautiful photos, as always!

  26. Perfect refreshing treat! Lighty, fruity, creamy, just the right amount of sweet…can’t wait to try it!

  27. Aran, I too, love trifle! And I do the same thing with leftover bits of things – right now I have some scraps of orange blossom honey cheesecake in the fridge that I sliced off the top of a cheesecake that baked unevenly, and I’m thinking it will make a fantastic trifle next weekend with some fresh strawberries.

  28. Minna says:

    Where did you got that cute dark hot pat or whatever it is under the bowl? I have seen those in your other photos too and they’re so lovely. :)

  29. Minna- that came from japan actually from a company called fog linen work.


  30. Alexandra- no i have never tried socca but will look for it now! Thank you for tip!

  31. I’m always enthralled by everything you make (your carrot soup is an eternal favorite) BUT THIS! THIS is going to be the capper of our summer garden party this year. CANNOT WAIT to try.

  32. Hi Aran!
    spectacular triffle, really… but still no saturn peach here in Italy, I have to wait. I wanted to ask you some advice… two days ago I tried your strawberry scones recipe, and it didn’t turn out as it should. It was my first scone recipe… but the dough came out like a glue, and in the end the cookies were too soft, not crusty… why, in your opinion? Can you give me some tips about scones?
    Then… I made some poppy picture, and here you go:
    I’m not a brilliant photographer… but I hope you like the pics :-)
    have a nice day!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Your photos are always so fresh, crisp and clean. I could look at them all day and never tire of seeing them.

  34. I’ve been meaning to ask you – where do you get your colorful designed plastic spoons? I love them!

  35. Dulcistella- beautiful poppies! thank you for sharing. regarding the scones… it’s hard to say without having seen what you did.Did you use the same exact flours that I indicated? And the xanthan gum? It could be ingredients were slightly different in Europe, or that the dough was overworked, overbaked… Hard to tell. You can email me with specifics if you’d like.

    Julia- you can get them at Anthropologie now.

    Thank you1

  36. Health Guy says:

    Indeed all great thing are actually simple. Great foods (simple fiber rich foods such as fruits), great technologies and great happiness, all simple.

  37. Suze says:

    Those are Rainier cherries, no? Bing cherries are the dark, uniformly red ones. I prefer rainier – this looks delicious!

  38. Evitaa says:

    God, looks delicious! :)

  39. Suze- yes, yes, yes… what was I thinking when I wrote Bing? Rainier! Thank you for the correction.

  40. Jaime says:

    Gorgeous recipe Aran! I love trifle especially with peaches. Beautiful photos too as always :-)

  41. Maja says:

    How much I adore spring just because of cherries! Love this vanilla custard, definitely something to try out :)
    Gorgeous pics :)

  42. Alexis says:

    Gorgeous spring recipe!

  43. Synchronicity. I’ve had individual trifle on the brain for a few days and this is second post I”ve seen it. Love the peaches. Looks so fresh and pretty.

  44. Lemon says:

    Lovely trifle, looks delicious. And your photos, just beautiful.

  45. a. maren says:

    my mother always made trifle! she loves it, and so do i. she’s had to go GF in the past few years, so this recipe is so perfect. i will have to make it for her soon (and for me of course :)).

  46. Ranier cherries and those flat peaches (that’s what we call them here in Toronto) are some of my favourite summer fruits! Love, love, love them! So, I am sure that I will love this recipe as well!

    By the way, Aran. I was one of the people who got in your Montreal workshop. Unfortunately, I had to cancel because it will be difficult for me to separate from my so (still nursing). You know how it is…Hopefully, one day in the near future, I’ll get my chance again to meet you and learn from you through a workshop – be it here in Canada, in France, or anywhere else in the world you might be! Just wanted to let you know that your food images always make me smile :) Kudos! Have a great week!

  47. My grandmother always made us trifle when we went there for dinner and it will always have a special place in my heart.

  48. Jen- yes, I know and I completely understand. I’ve been there and good for you that you are still nursing. That will be a healthy baby.

    Thank you all!

  49. So true! This would make me very happy!

  50. I love the idea of the individual serve trifle. Too often even the little bit of leftovers never really keep. Thanks for the inspiration!

  51. This looks yummy:) I can’t wait for cherry and peach season to arrive here!

  52. I’ll have to try this one soon. Love the idea of individual trifles! And you can’t go wrong with sweet Ranier cherries!

  53. Sini says:

    Sometimes the best things are the simple ones. I love this post.

  54. zer0gluten says:

    Haces que todo apetezca siempre tanto…
    Me encanta tu trifle.
    Un beso grande.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Did this today for the Queen’s Jubilee in London and it was perfect…added a little Marsala wine in the grown ups’…

  56. Me encantan todas tus imágenes!! Muy bello blog! Saludos!

  57. You can’t beat how delightfully simple a trifle can be. I am loving the pairing of cherry and peach here, not to mention with a lemon sponge cake – scrumptious!

  58. These look delicious! And perfect for the incessantly rainy weather we have been having recently.

  59. Anonymous says:

    :) paraguayos!!! Amazing blog :) olá from Portugal

  60. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely delicious..I have made three of these recently and they have gone down a storm. I added small broken pieces of Divine’s raspberry dark chocolate to a couple and some marsala which I’d recommend.

  61. Cindy DG says:

    I love lemon! :) My name is Cindy and I blog over at I wanted to invite you to link up your recipe at our Gluten Free Fridays Recipe Link up party! It happens every Friday and we’d love to have you join us with some of your awesome recipes! You can find this week’s link up here:
    Also be sure to link up your blog on our Gluten Free Bloggers directory. You can reach the directory by clicking the “glutenfree bloggers” tab on our blog! Thanks, Cindy :)

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