When life gives you a bounty of juicy summer fruit—whether berries or peaches or cherries—prepare a trifle. Layers of light-as-air chiffon cake, whipped cream, vanilla custard, and loads of fresh fruit make up this gorgeous dessert that is perfect for a summer party.
Summer Fruit Trifle
For a special meal, make sweet little individual trifles by layering the ingredients in 6–10 glass serving cups or bowls.
For the vanilla custard:
1 cup heavy cream
2 1⁄2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
6 large egg yolks
1⁄2 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
3 Tbs. cornstarch, mixed with 2 Tbs. water
4–6 cups diced mixed summer fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, or cherries
1⁄4–1⁄2 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
For the vanilla chiffon cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1⁄3–1⁄2 cup sweet sherry
Whipped cream for serving
To make the custard, in a medium saucepan, warm the cream and milk over low heat. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a paring knife. Add the bean and seeds to the warm cream mixture. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt, then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Slowly pour about half of the warm cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan and raise the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thickened, about 4 minutes. Pour through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard, and let cool completely.
To make the vanilla chiffon cake, in a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Whisk in half of the sugar. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vanilla, egg yolks, and 1⁄3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water. In a third bowl, using a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. When the egg whites get frothy, slowly add the remaining sugar, beating just until stiff peaks form. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 15–18 minutes. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake pans to loosen the cakes, then invert the cakes onto the racks, peel off the parchment, and let cool before filling and frosting.
To assemble the trifle, in a bowl, toss the fruit with some sugar and set aside for about 20 minutes to macerate. Have ready a trifle bowl or a 3-qt. glass bowl measuring about 8 inches high and 8 inches in diameter. Cut the cake crosswise into thick slices (or you can cut it into chunks).
Line the bottom of the bowl with the cake slices, using about half of the slices. Sprinkle the cake with half of the sherry, then top with half of the fruit and half of the custard. Top with the remaining cake slices, sherry, fruit, and custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Top the trifle with whipped cream before serving (you can also top with the whipped cream and refrigerate for an hour before serving). Use a big spoon to dig deep down into the trifle to make sure you get every delectable layer. Serves 10.
For more delicious baking recipes be sure to check out our cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort.