This easy strawberry trifle is a quick and incredibly delicious dessert combining flavors that pair wonderfully! It comes together in no time if you use a purchased pound cake.
One of my favorite desserts ever is my version of Eton mess, with fresh strawberries, cream, crushed meringue cookies, and dulce de leche. This recipe comes close to dethroning it.
With the addition of olive oil pound cake - which by itself is a fabulous recipe, you just have to try it - it is the perfect summer dessert. Good for large gatherings, graduations, small weddings, or just because.
If there's an easy-to-put-together dessert for a crowd, that is a trifle.
This one has a cake made from scratch of course, but a good bakery pound cake is a quick alternative. The rest is prepping mostly.
What is a trifle?
Trifle is a dessert consisting of layers of sponge cake, fruit, custard, and whipped cream. Give or take. I have old recipes that use jam instead of fruit.
Fast forward to this day and there are trifles of whatever you can imagine. They all have layers and usually cake, but nowadays you can take, say, this Margarita Key Lime Pie and serve it as a trifle, by layering crushed cookies instead of cake, the lime custard, and adding layers of whipped cream.
Not long ago I made a trifle with chocolate wafers, dulce de leche and cream, a thick layer of chocolate whipped cream, and walnuts. A chocoholic dream come true. As you can see, the possibilities are many.
Layering a trifle
As I said, there are a few mandatory layers in a trifle, but it's up to what you like and, in my case, what I have available.
- Servings: First of all decide if you're doing individual servings, like I made today, or using a big glass trifle bowl (it has to be glass so you can see the different layers).
- Cake layer: this layer is mandatory. You can use cake pieces or, as I mentioned above, crushed cookies, brownie crumbs, or something like that.
- Cream layer: The cream layer is good after the cake because it will moisten it. The cream has a lot of liquid that will seep into the first dry layer.
- Fruit layer: this one is optional, but diced fresh fruit such as strawberries (or other berries), or other juicy fruit - think ripe peaches or plums - work well. You have to take into account the rest of the flavors. If they match well go ahead.
- Custard layer: this layer is very traditional in old-fashioned trifles and I hardly ever use it. Not because I don't like it, but because I put together trifles at the last minute and never have time to prepare custard and let it cool down. What I sometimes add is this microwave pastry cream.
A dessert that comes together quickly and lets you enjoy the day, with family, friends, or whatever.
Strawberry trifle is one of my favorites because of the tanginess of the fruit pairs well with creams and cakes and other flavors.
If you never tried it with dulce de leche (or caramel, which is more easily available), you should. There's something about the tangy but sweet strawberries, the gooey sweetness of the milk jam, and the silky cream that is out of this world. Paradise in a jar.
Other alternatives: use lemon curd or thick caramel.
Types of cake
The cake that I used here is an olive oil vanilla cake, a fantastic recipe from Bouchon, Thomas Keller's cookbook. This is no surprise since he is a master cook and baker. But still, I'm amazed at this cake, the texture is perfect for a trifle.
The cake is quite simple, sort of a genoise with olive oil instead of melted butter.
The result is a great crumb, not so spongy, more firm, and grainy. And it lasts for many days in the fridge, especially if making a dessert like this strawberry trifle. I am a big big fan of olive oil cakes so I knew this would work.
But you can use purchased pound cake or your favorite vanilla layer cake. I am known for using this Brown Butter Cake because the flavor is so darn amazing.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: consider that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Cake: the olive oil cake in this recipe is phenomenal and can be frozen, but you can substitute a purchased one if you are in a hurry.
- Cream layer: make sure you add the layer of cream after the cake layer so it moistens it enough. You want to bite into a soft cake, not a dry one.
- Strawberries: dice them in small bites. You want to fit all layers in one spoon. I use them fresh and cut them at the last minute, but you can cut them, add a few tablespoons of sugar and let them macerate for half an hour until they release their juice. They will add more moisture to the dessert. It will not last as long since the extra liquid from the fruit will add a lot more moisture and the layers will become mushier quicker.
- Dulce de leche: can be easily bought online, and I recommend brands like Vacalin dulce de leche repostero and Veronica dulce de leche. But caramel sauce can be used if you need to. It's a different consistency and flavor, but it will work.
- Alternatives to dulce de leche: use lemon curd or thick caramel.
- Sweetness: depending on how sweet you like your desserts, add more or less sugar to the whipped cream or use a sweeter cake.
This strawberry trifle keeps well for a day or two in the fridge. It will be a different texture, but still great.
The strawberries will have somewhat dissolved the cream and sugar, and the cake will be integrated into the rest of the ingredients. Truly wonderful. Every single spoonful of deliciousness.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the olive oil cake:
- 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) sugar
- ½ cup (115ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup (80ml) olive oil
To assemble the trifles:
- ¼ pound (½ kg) fresh strawberries, rinsed and cut into small chunks
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ¾ cup (200g) whipping or double cream, cold
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese (cold)
- 1 cup (300g) dulce de leche or lemon curd or thick caramel sauce
For the olive oil cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Butter or spray a 9x4inch loaf pan, or similar and line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl start beating egg while adding sugar slowly. Beat for 4-5 minutes, until very foamy and light in color.
- Add half the flour, baking powder and salt (all sifted, I do it directly over the batter) and mix lightly.
- Add half olive oil and milk and mix a bit.
- Repeat with rest of dry ingredients and wet ingredients, mixing until no dry streaks remain, but not too much. We want to keep air in the batter.
- Pour into the pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out dry.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack before using.
- You can wrap it well in plastic wrap and keep for a few days in the fridge.
To assemble the trifles:
- Use a large glass serving bowl or individual jars.
- Put strawberry chunks in a bowl with the powdered sugar, mix a bit and let rest while you prepare the rest.
- Beat cream with cream cheese until beginning to make soft peaks. It should be a bit firm, but careful not to beat it too much.
- Now make the layers. I build it with a layer of cake, one of cream, a large dollop of dulce de leche, and some strawberries. Repeat if you like. Decorate with half a strawberry.
- Keep refrigerated until serving time.
- Cake: the olive oil cake in this recipe is phenomenal and can be frozen, but you can substitute a purchased one if in a hurry.
- Cream layer: make sure you add the layer of cream after the layer of cake so it moistens it enough. You want to bite into a soft cake, not a dry one.
- Strawberries: dice them in small bites. You want to fit all layers in one spoon. I use them fresh and cut them at the last minute, but you can cut them, add a few tablespoons of sugar and let them macerate for half an hour until they release their juice. This way they will add more moisture to the dessert. Take into account that it will not last as long since the extra liquid from the fruit will add a lot more moisture and the layers will become mushy quicker.
- Dulce de leche: it can be easily bought online, and I recommend brands like Cachafaz and Havanna. But caramel sauce can be used if you need too. It's a different consistency and flavor, but it will work.
- Sweetness: depending on how sweet you like your desserts, add more or less sugar to the whipped cream or use a sweeter cake. Or add more dulce de leche.
- Ratios: you can change the ratios of the layers depending on what you like more or less. I use a lot of strawberries and not so much whipped cream for example.
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Layering
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: ⅙
- Calories: 624
- Sugar: 58.7 g
- Sodium: 304.4 mg
- Fat: 31.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 80.1 g
- Fiber: 2.2 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Cholesterol: 86 mg
Keywords: strawberry trifle