You know what Thanksgiving means? It means that it's epic dessert time! Okay okay.. I know that Thanksgiving means more than that. But one of the most fun things about any holiday is that, since you're cooking for a large group of people, you get to bake something amazingly huge and ridiculous. One of my favourite things to bring out for birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, et cetera, et cetera is this lemony cakey custardy fruity masterpiece. I've been slowly developing this insane dietbuster over the past ten years. I'm not even joking. It's taken several forms over that time, but three things have remained constant: some form of white cake, a butterfat laden custard and the tartest and tangiest most lip-smacking lemon curd in the land.
This booze-free trifle is not something you just 'whip up.' It requires a commitment. You have to pretty much have to spend most of the day in or near your kitchen. If you like making desserts, it's not a problem. It's fun!
However, if you're looking for something a little easier, you can use a store bought angel food cake for this, though I'd resist box cakes. I mean really - if you're going to go to the trouble of adding water, oil and eggs anyways, just bake your own cake from scratch and know what's in it. I'm in denial that 'just add water' box cakes even exist. La la la!
The cake recipe is a variation off the lemon cranberry muffins I posted before (didn't I say it was dynamic?). You might recognise the custard from the biscuit blackberry shortcakes I baked this summer (it's a standard recipe that I've been using since the dawn of time). The lemon curd is new to this blog, but I've been making it for years in this dessert, but I also put it on pavlova, scones... a spoon....
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk with 1 tsp white vinegar added
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I've used both)
1 tbsp minced lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a cake pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In a second bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, milk, oil and lemon zest.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, then add the wet. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, combine the dry ingredients with the wet until no flour patches remain.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
Adapted from Epicurious.com
3 cups whipping cream (yes)
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
6 tbsp granulated sugar
In a medium sized pot (off heat), whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add whipping cream then turn on the heat to medium low. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the cream. Stir constantly and bring to a simmer, custard should have thickened considerably.
Once it has reached a simmer, take the custard off heat and pour it through a fine sieve. Chill.
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) of butter, in pieces
In a medium sized pot (off heat), combine lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Whisk together. Once it begins to thicken, melt in the butter pieces. Run it through a sieve to remove any zest or lumps.
Blueberries and blackberries
I used 2 170g, 6 oz. containers each
Tear your cake into small pieces and put them in a large bowl. Put 2/3 of your custard in the bowl and toss until coated. Chill for a few hours to let it soak in.
When you are ready to put everything together, get out your trifle dish. Add a bit more of the custard to the cake and toss, just to get it a little wetter (this may not be necessary depending on what cake recipe you use, or if you buy an angel food cake etc.). Begin layering.
You can do this however you want. This is how I did it: a layer of cake on the bottom, then a drizzle of custard, some blueberries, another layer of cake, a layer of lemon curd, more cake, more custard, then aaallll the rest of the berries.
Chill for a couple of hours. It's best cold.
Then prepare to impress your relatives!