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A bowl filled with angel food cake, strawberries and whipped cream is a holiday hit

Marilynn Tuten displays her English Trifle at her St. Petersburg home. She features a double dose of whipped cream: “I don’t think you can ever have enough whipped cream in a dessert.”

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Marilynn Tuten displays her English Trifle at her St. Petersburg home. She features a double dose of whipped cream: “I don’t think you can ever have enough whipped cream in a dessert.”

Who: Marilynn Tuten, 53, of St. Petersburg, chief administrative officer at Central Vacuum Stores

What: English Trifle

About the Recipe: About 15 years ago, Tuten found a recipe for English Trifle in her Southern Living Cookbook and made it her own. She replaced the pound cake with angel food cake, the strawberry jam with fresh strawberries, and added twice as much whipped cream. "I don't think you can ever have enough whipped cream in a dessert," she said.

She called it a "festive" dessert for Christmas parties, with its red strawberries and white whipped cream. When served in a pedestal bowl, it becomes a centerpiece for the table. It's a hit at every holiday event.

"There's ... never enough," she said. "Because I use the angel food cake and the fresh fruit, it doesn't seem very heavy, and ... you always want more."

She loves to bake, calling it her "creative outlet." At past Christmas gatherings, she's baked pies — pecan, coconut cream, French silk — and triple chocolate tortes with raspberry sauce.

"It gives me joy when I bake something and share it and see the reaction of the people. I just want to see it on their faces."

Tips: Pay close attention while slow-cooking the custard to make sure it reaches the right thickness. "Most people think of custard as being firm. This one actually is a very soft custard, even ... softer than a pudding." When it's done cooking, it should be about the thickness of soft ice cream. She also suggested buying strawberries that are big enough to cut in half and line the inside of the dish.

On the Side: A cup of coffee or hot tea. "I personally like Lady Grey."

Can't Cook Without: Whipping cream. "There's usually whipping cream in my fridge because you can do anything with it. (If) somebody pops in, and you've got some fresh fruit and a little sugar ... and whipped cream ... dessert's instant."

Emily Young, special to the Times

If you have a recipe that you would like featured, or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, email jkeeler@tampabay.com with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Or mail to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731

>>MODERATE

English Trifle

2 cups of milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

4 eggs

cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Angel food cake

1 ½ quarts fresh strawberries (1 quart sliced thin; the rest halved)

¾ cup cream sherry

¼ cup plus 4 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Mint leaves (optional for decoration)

Make the custard by combining milk and ⅔ cup whipping cream in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until warm.

Combine eggs and sugar, beating well. Gradually stir about one-fourth of warm mixture into eggs; add to remaining warm mixture, stirring constantly.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the spoon. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature; chill. (The custard can be made the night before.)

To put together, slice the angel food cake. Line the bottom of a 16-cup trifle bowl with a third of the slices. Using a pastry brush, brush ¼ cup of cream sherry on the slices. Arrange strawberry halves, cut side out, around lower edge of bowl. Spoon 2 cups of the custard over cake slices and cover with sliced strawberries. Add another layer, using ⅓ of the cake slices and brush with sherry. Line cut strawberries around the edge and fill with half the remaining custard. Repeat for final layer, saving a few cut strawberries for garnish.

Finally, beat 2 cups whipping cream until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread over trifle; garnish with strawberries and mint leaves. Chill 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Source: Marilynn Tuten of

St. Petersburg

A bowl filled with angel food cake, strawberries and whipped cream is a holiday hit 12/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 3:30am]

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