Trifling things (birthday cake trifle)

7 Jun

You may know from Twitter that I think about and read about social justice-related things a lot.  I’ve been quite stricken this week about a certain, horrible thing that’s happened, and I don’t have words/am very overwhelmed right now to write about it.  So instead we’re going to chat about trifling things today, specifically, trifle, which is a delicious combination of pudding and cake and whipped cream and sometimes other stuff (fruit).  Banana pudding is basically a trifle, so you know trifle’s gonna be awesome.


Even when berry upset, trifle is a piece of cake, just a matter of pudding some ingredients together. (ignore the other fruits, they don’t (man)go in)

Last week was my birthday, so I decided to throw a little party and make a cake.  We didn’t actually want to be social for several hours, so it was a combination social hour + 3 hours of board games, and during those board game hours people kept popping into the kitchen to get another scoop of this birthday cake trifle!

I started the day before, by baking a Funfetti cake from a box.  You need a cake, if you make one from scratch that’s great too!  On the day of the party, I assembled the trifle a few hours early to give it time to meld flavors in the fridge.  You could do it even a few days early, but it gets mushier/more homogeneous, which is maybe what you want but not what I wanted.

I was worried about putting fruit in this trifle, but I had all that fruit that was going to go to waste, because baby decided he didn’t want berries this week, only bananas.  So I mixed up my blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and sprinkled them with a few tablespoons of sugar to macerate (aka soak/sit) while preparing everything else.  This softens and sweetens them.

Make pudding (from scratch or I used a box).  Box pudding is SO magical and easy; even my 20-month-old could do it! …sort of.


Sometimes he looks at me so whiskfully while I bake, so I let him help

Then either use cool whip/reddi whip or make your own whipped cream.  If you have a stand mixer/electric mixer, homemade whipped cream is really the way to go.  It’s SO DELICIOUS.  Take your cream, put it in a bowl, and start whipping it at half-power, then slowly up it to full power.  Add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar (I just tipped the bag toward it for a few seconds).  If you want, add extract (vanilla, almond, etc.), but I like it just pure and fresh and creamy and light.  Stop whipping when it looks not-liquid anymore.


I really hope Willow Smith loves whipped cream and sings while making it.

Now gently fold the whipped cream and pudding together; this is the glue of the trifle that will eventually soak into the cake.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly mixed (again, I prefer non-homogeneity in this dessert).


Aladdin’s little known-talent: trifle-making. I can show you the swirl/ shining, shimmering, splendid/ tell me, princess, now when did you last let your mouth decide!

Cut your cake into bite-size pieces.  Trifle is awesome because you can use any flavor you want!  Lemon cake would be so good here.  Also angel food cake.  Also chocolate cake.  Any cake!  Any pudding!  The world is your oyster/trifle!  Don’t make a trifle with oysters, please.


If you want to fool someone into thinking this is healthy, say a sentence about salad, and then mention that you have some lattice (say it real fast).

Take a big, beautiful glass bowl (or a trifle dish if you own one and also why do you own one?) and smear some whipped cream-pudding on the bottom.  Then top it with a layer of cake-cubes.


It’s for my birthday!  So it’s special!  A special cake-cube complex!

Now top that layer of cake-cubes with another layer of pudding-cream, and top that with berries.  You want to go all the way to the edge of the bowl so you can see the layers from outside.


If you’re upset someone’s razzing you, at least you’re not black and blue

Then cover that with another layer of cake-cubes, then a layer of pudding-cream, then a layer of berries, cake-cubes, and if you’re me and ran out of pudding-cream, top it all with more whipped cream!


If you’re failing at something and running on an empty stomach, why not have some trifle and try full?

I decorated the top with sprinkles and crumbled cake-cube.  Toss in the fridge for at least an hour, and serve with a deep serving spoon.

This has been a hard week for us because that adorable person up there is having some anxiety issues at daycare, and he’s only 20 months old!  Poor little dude.  We’re meeting with the pediatrician and the speech therapist later this week to figure out if we can do anything to help him be happier.  Parenting is a thing, and I’m still new to it, and my poor baby.  Anyways.  That’s why this post is about trifle!  Because sometimes you just need to make something delicious and easy, and it’s best if that something is light and fluffy and cloud-like too.  Baking is totally therapeutic.

20160604_165904Birthday Cake Trifle (serves 16 or so)

1 13×9 cake (you’ll have leftover cake) or use a 9×9 cake for a smaller trifle.  Any flavor

1 box of pudding mix (some flavor that goes well with your cake.  I did Funfetti cake-vanilla pudding)

1 pint heavy whipping cream OR 1 tub Cool Whip OR equivalent (reddi whip is also good)

1-2 pints of mixed berries or other fruit

2 TB sugar (optional)

1/4 c powdered sugar

3 c milk (or whatever it says on the pudding mix)

  1. If your fruit is a bit tart, toss with the 2 TB sugar to macerate, set aside.
  2. Make the pudding according to box directions.
  3. Fresh whipped cream: beat cream with whisk attachment of mixer at 2-3 speed, then slowly increase to full speed and add powdered sugar.  Beat for a few minutes, until it looks like whipped cream.
  4. Gently fold whipped cream into pudding.
  5. Cut cake into 3/4 inch-ish squares.
  6. Use a big beautiful glass bowl, and smear a small amount of pudding-cream on bottom.  Top with a layer of cake-cubes.  Top with a layer of pudding-cream.  Then a layer of fruit.  Repeat, alternating cake-cubes and fruit with pudding-cream–top layer should be pudding-cream.
  7. Decorate with cake crumbs and/or fruit.
  8. Refrigerate at least one hour.  Serve cold with a spoon.

2 Responses to “Trifling things (birthday cake trifle)”

  1. bf June 8, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    Great recipe! My 13-year-old who was into raspberries is taking a break from them, and I have about 3 pounds in my deep -reezer and I love raspberries, so I’ll probably do it raspberry-only. And maybe I’ll use ladyfingers instead of the cake, tiramisu-style, because I’m lazy like that. I also loved your idea of adding extra whipped cream on top. What would you say about crumbling meringue on top of it all?

    I hope your toddler’s issues will be solved, just a warning though that it might take a tad longer and it’s not your (plural!) fault: some kids just need extra time to get used to spending time with a group of non-family members – one of my kids took about a decade.

    • bf June 8, 2016 at 4:02 am #

      Oh, and happy birthday!

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