This Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle is not a traditional English trifle. It doesn’t contain custard and jelly. It is made with layers of pound cake, rhubarb syrup, roasted rhubarb, fresh strawberries and mascarpone whipped cream. Gorgeous to look at and very delicious!
We’re back from the United Kingdom. It was an incredible 2-week experience. Lots of history and fantastic British food. To sum it up, we would love to go back one day. This recipe is inspired by our trip. We had a rhubarb trifle at a Michelin Star restaurant, St. JOHN in London. It wasn’t a traditional trifle, because it didn’t have jelly and custard. It was served in a little ceramic bowl with roasted rhubarb and mascarpone whipped cream. That sure left an impression.
So I’m bringing you my version of that trifle with fresh strawberries and roasted rhubarb. Just like the on at St. JOHN, I’m not putting custard and jelly either. It’s just going to be cake, syrup, fruit and whipped cream. To start, we need cake. I chose a simple moist pound cake. It’s very easy and it can be made a day or two ahead. If you want to save time, there is no shame of getting one from grocery store.
Next is the rhubarb. Rhubarb is popular in the UK. We saw it on many dessert menus in a lot of restaurants. Rhubarb is sour and tangy, which is very nice to end the meal. Rhubarb is available in the US too, but mostly in farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Actually, rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit. It looks like a red celery rib. The leaves are highly toxic, so make sure you get rid of them before cooking. It’s very easy to prepare rhubarb. You can eat it raw or cook, but most people cook them. All I did was to rinse them in water, pat dried and cut into pieces. Then toss in sugar and roast in the oven covered for about 10 minutes. Once they are tender, but still hold the shape. Transfer them to cool on the side, while saving the liquid.
The liquid is a flavorful rhubarb syrup. Reduce it on stove top for a few minutes to make a slightly thicker and more concentrated syrup. Set aside to cool. This will be used to soak the pound cake a bit.
Now, for the whipped cream. I added mascarpone cheese in it. It’s thick and creamy with a hint of mascarpone. It’s kind of like the cream in tiramisu. Sweeten with powdered sugar. Once it’s made, keep in the fridge until ready to use.
For the pound cake, I used about 2/3 of a loaf. Cut half a loaf into cubes first. Cut more if needed. The rest of the pound cake can be sliced and freeze for breakfast or dessert later. Also cut the strawberries into quarters or sixth if they are big. I didn’t do anything to the strawberries. If yours are on the tart side, toss them with a little bit of sugar.
When ready to assemble, pick your container. I used multiple different things, mini trifle bowls, mason jars and regular serving bowls. You can also do in a regular trifle bowl. The order for the layers is pound cake, syrup, rhubarb, strawberry, mascarpone cream. Repeat if your bowl is bigger. Finish with a big dollop of cream with a few pound cake cubes and decorate with strawberries.
I like to wrap the whole thing with plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge for at least a couple hours before serving. It gives time for the flavors to blend together and for the pound cake to soften slightly. One person can eat about 1 cup of trifle. You can keep the rest in the fridge covered for up to 2 days.
Not only this trifle has some gorgeous layers, but the flavors were amazing too. The sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb are really good together, then you get the buttery pound cake and creamy mascarpone cream. So good that you just want to keep eating. You guys will like this!
Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle
- ½ – ¾ loaf pound cake (recipe below)
- 1 pound strawberries (washed, pat dried, stem removed, cut into quarters or sixths)
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 3 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 5 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ pound fresh rhubarb
- ½ cup sugar
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- 16 ounces mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- One day before, prepare the pound cake. Preheat the oven to 325˚F (165˚C). Grease a loaf pan (9×5-inch) thoroughly with butter.
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrap down the paddle and bowl. Add salt, sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix to combine. Add 1 egg and vanilla extract. Beat well. Add eggs one at a time, scrapping down the paddle and bowl after each time. Mix until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Wash a butter knife under tap water to wet both sides, then run it into the center of the loaf cake lengthwise (about 1-inch deep into the cake), which will help to create a beautiful crack in the middle.
- Bake in the oven for 85 – 90 minutes until golden brown with a nice crack and toothpick comes out clean. Cover the cake with a piece of aluminum foil after 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Loosen the sides with a butter knife or offset spatula. Carefully invert the pound cake onto a towel on top of the wire rack. Remove the pan, flip the cake back and place on the rack to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap to store at room temperature overnight.
- Next day, start with the rhubarb. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Rinse and pat dried. Trim both ends off, and cut into 1½-inch length. Transfer to a 9 x 13 ovenproof dish. Toss with ½ cup sugar. Spread into a single layer. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until rhubarb is tender but still hold its shape.
- Remove from oven and remove the foil. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Gently transfer the rhubarb to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, transfer all the rhubarb liquid into a measuring cup. You should have more than ½ cup. Pour into a small saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat for about 3 – 4 minutes. You should have about ⅓ cup at the end. That’s rhubarb syrup. Set aside to cool.
- For the mascarpone whipped cream, in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add mascarpone cheese and salt. Beat on low speed for a minute. With the mixer on, slowly add the heavy cream and beat for 30 seconds. Add the powdered sugar. Turn up the speed to medium and beat until medium peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Once everything is cool, cut ½ of the pound cake into ¾-inch cubes. Cut more when it's needed.
- To assemble, prepare 1 large trifle bowl or 10 small trifle bowls or 5 mason jars. You can use anything you like as long as it can hold about 11 cups of trifle.
- Start with a layer of pound cake, then brush or spoon rhubarb syrups over. You want to use almost all the syrup at the end. Next, add a layer of roasted rhubarb and a layer on fresh strawberries. Cover with a few dollops of mascarpone cream. Depends on the size of your bowl(s), continue with more layers or stop there. To finish, top with a big dollop of mascarpone cream, a couple pound cake cubes & decorate with strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.
- This recipe makes about 11 cup of trifle. 1 cup is good for 1 person.
- If you want to save time, you can use store-bought pound cake.
- Homemade pound cake can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for a couple days. Leftover pound cake can be sliced and frozen to enjoy later.
- Rhubarb is in season during spring time from April to June in the US. Pick ones that are firm with no bruises and not too thick. Thicker ones are more fibrous. Colors don’t matter too much. Rhubarb is very easy to prepare. Just rinse, pat dried, cut into pieces, and roast.
- When making the whipped cream, make sure the mascarpone cheese has come to room temperature. If it’s cold, it will be hard to blend with the heavy cream.
- For the strawberries, I didn’t add anything to them. If yours are too tart, you can toss them with a little bit of sugar.
- For storage, trifle can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. Wrap in the plastic wrap or cover with a lid.