- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My mother readily admitted that she didn’t like to cook, and as a result I have few memories of helping out in the kitchen as a youngster. She was, however, thrilled when I ended up in the food world, and would have been pleased that I have passed my love of cooking on to my son, who in turn is sharing his culinary curiosity with his 3-year old son and 5-year old daughter. For Mother’s Day I know that Mike and his two kids will want to serve something special to honor the mom in their house, and I have a new recipe for the occasion.

A Strawberry Orange Trifle is what I have in mind. This dessert looks impressive, but is not hard to prepare. Using a purchased angel food cake saves time and does not sacrifice quality. The cake is cut into cubes that are lightly toasted in the oven, then tossed in orange juice. The trifle is composed of multiple layers starting with the cubed cake, followed by sliced fresh strawberries mixed with a simple raspberry puree (made with frozen berries), and finished with orange-scented whipped cream. Trifles are traditionally served in trifle bowls, but if you don’t have one, a large container (such as a salad or mixing bowl, preferably clear glass) will work. Once the trifle is assembled, it needs a minimum of 3 hours in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld, but it will hold up well for as long as 8 hours. A single recipe feeds 10 to 12, making this confection well suited to big family gatherings.

You could serve the trifle as the finale to a special brunch or dinner. Or offer it at a dessert party with cups of coffee or tea for grown ups and glasses of milk for young diners. Gleaming with its golden, crimson, and snowy white hues, this trifle, which is silken smooth and creamy, would be a fitting (and irresistible) tribute to mothers everywhere on May 11.

MOTHER’S DAY STRAWBERRY ORANGE TRIFLE

1 15- to 16-ounce purchased angel food cake (see note)



1 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice, preferably fresh, divided

1 12-ounce package frozen unsweetened raspberries, defrosted

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 pounds strawberries

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

4 teaspoons grated orange zest

Fresh mint sprig for garnish, optional

Arrange racks at center and lower positions, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a serrated knife, cut the angel food cake into 1-inch cubes, to yield about 12 cups. Spread the cubes on two baking sheets and bake until lightly toasted and dried out, about 10 minutes. Stir the cubes and reverse the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Watch carefully. Transfer cubes to a large bowl to cool 10 minutes. Then, pour 1 cup of the orange juice over the cubes and toss to coat well. Set aside

Using a food processor, puree the raspberries until smooth. Place pureed mixture in a large saucepan along with sugar, lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice. Cook and stir just until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and cool raspberry mixture to room temperature.

Set aside 3 medium-size strawberries for garnish. Hull remaining strawberries and if they have white center cores, cut these out and discard them. Then, slice berries lengthwise to yield about 6 cups. Add berries to the saucepan with the raspberry puree and toss to coat well.

With an electric mixer on high speed, whip cream until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and beat in confectioners’ sugar, sour cream, and orange zest. Beat 20 to 30 seconds more until cream is just firm.

To assemble the trifle, use a 16-cup trifle bowl or a clear glass bowl of similar size. Layer 1/3 of the cake cubes on the bottom of the dish. Next, spoon 1/3 of the strawberries and a little of the raspberry puree over the cake cubes. Finally, spread 1/3 of the whipped cream over the berries. Repeat this layering process two more times. Garnish the center of the top layer with the reserved strawberries and with a mint sprig, if desired. Cover trifle with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours. Serves 10 to 12.

Note: Most groceries sell angel food cakes in their bread and bakery departments. I purchased a 15-ounce one that was about 9 inches in diameter across the bottom and 4 1/2 inches high.

(Betty Rosbottom is a cooking school director and author of “Big Book of Backyard Cooking,” Chronicle Books, 2004.)

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