Our version of this classic English confection is a festive feast for the eyes. The luscious layers of gingerbread cake, vanilla custard, raspberries, and whipped cream form a dramatic dessert that also stacks up in taste. This three-part recipe lets kids bake a cake, cook custard, whip up a fluffy topping, and assemble it all into a treat that can feed a crowd. You can serve it in any deep bowl, but for maximum impact, we recommend a trifle (ours is about 5-inches deep).
Total time: 1 hour, 55 minutes (plus chilling)
Where to Find It: A glass trifle or footed bowl like the one pictured can be purchased at a cooking supply store or a large retailer, such as Target, for around $20.
Baker's Tip: Save the egg whites for omelets, meringues, and other dishes: refrigerate them (up to four days) or freeze them (up to 12 months).
Kathy Farrell-Kingsley is a Connecticut-based food writer and cookbook author.
Make the Gingerbread: Heat the oven to 350°. Generously grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the butter until it's soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the sugar and molasses and beat again until the mixture is well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and beat well. Reduce the mixer's speed to low and slowly add half the flour mixture to the bowl and beat until blended. Repeat with the other half.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use. It can be stored in the pan at room temperature for up to two days.
Make the Custard: Divide the egg yolks and whites by carefully tipping each yolk back and forth between the shell halves, letting the whites spill into a bowl. Place the yolks in a separate bowl. In a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Slowly pour half the milk into the egg mixture and beat until blended then pour the mixture into the remaining milk in the pan. Over medium heat, bring the ingredients to a boil while whisking constantly. Allow the custard to boil for 1 minute as you continue to whisk. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Let the custard cool slightly, then cover its surface with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let the custard cool completely, then refrigerate it until ready to use (up to three days).
Assemble the Trifle: In a medium bowl, toss the thawed raspberries and sugar. Remove the gingerbread from the pan and use a serrated knife to slice it into four equal wedges. Turn each wedge on its side and slice it into three equal pieces. Stack them, slice the pile in half, and cut off 1 1/2 inches from the tips, reserving the pieces.
Arrange a layer of six cake wedges over the bottom of a 2 1/2-quart bowl. Fill the center with a few of the trimmings. Spoon and spread 3/4 cup of the raspberry mixture over the cake, then top the fruit with 1 cup of custard. Repeat the layering three more times with the remaining ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours to let the flavors meld (the dessert can be stored overnight).
Before serving, make the whipped cream. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the cream with the confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Use a spatula to spread the whipped cream on top of the trifle, and garnish it with the fresh raspberries.
Per serving (1 cup): Calories 362 ● Total Fat 14 g (21% DV) ● Saturated Fat 8 g (40% DV) ● Cholesterol 164 mg (55% DV) ● Sodium 225 mg (9% DV) ● Total Carbohydrate 52 g (17% DV) ● Fiber 3 g (13% DV) ● Sugars 30 g ● Protein 6 g (12% DV)
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