Free Form Trifle

May 21, 2014 Published by Dina

Cooking mostly for two I find that I stay away from desserts that require a whole cake or a pan full of this or that. If I make a dessert I look for something that I can prepare with only 2 or 4 servings. No need for desserts lingering in my kitchen for too long and in any event I am sure I would want to make something new. This “deconstructed” or free form trifle works well for smaller servings and is quick to make, especially if you buy the sponge cake at a good bakery. I bought mine at my favourite bakery here, Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads Bakery. Their small sponge/angel food cake is moist and light with a good crumb and a hint of vanilla.

We had dinner at Mission Hill Estate Winery the other night on a perfect full moon Okanagan evening. The moon rose before our eyes over the mountains on the east side of the lake. I snapped a couple of shots in the dark trying to keep the camera from shaking the best I could (image below). It was truly a magical Okanagan moment. Dessert was spectacular, created by their new pastry chef. We shared a couple of desserts and both came “deconstructed”. Presentation was artistic and flawless and the flavours were clean, fresh and sparkling with the various elements. I was very impressed. Ours was a cheesecake and I wish I had an image to share but it was too dark by then for decent photos. It looked like an impressionist painting. Well, I didn’t let myself be intimidated by the beautiful dessert at Mission Hill, I am a home cook, not a professional chef.  So here is a simple dessert in the deconstructed trend, I think you’d find the idea useful.

Deconstructed food emerged a while back in the culinary circles. “Deconstructed” means that the dessert (or any dish) is broken into its basic components and reassembled on the plate in a way that is different than the original. This recipe is for a “deconstructed” trifle. The basic elements of a trifle are sponge cake, whipped cream, berries and pastry cream. Of course there are other ingredients that can go into a trifle: lemon curd, fruit puree, liqueurs etc. and you can certainly adapt the recipe to how you like to serve it. As long as the flavour palate is true to the original I think you can call it by the same name. I made this one with most of the basic ingredients, substituting custard with lemon cream that’s quick and easy to make. I have a secret ingredients here which is vanilla ice cream, melted. I either pour some over the dessert or  serve it in a small pitcher alongside the dessert  to pour over as you wish. Ice cream is a frozen creme anglasie and by melting it you return it to the original state. It’s a shortcut in the kitchen that is worth considering.  Make sure that there is enough of each component to combine in each bite. Not too little, not too much, just right. In terms of presentation, don’t fill up the plate, don’t be afraid of negative space (open) on your plate.

Serves 2-4



Store bought sponge cake or angel cake or a pound cake

2 cups berries: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries

1 1/2 cups whipping cream whipped with 1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup lemon curd (store bought)

Slices almonds optional

Good quality vanilla ice cream, melted




Cut the cake into small cubes, removing the brownish crust if any.

Whip the cream with the sugar until soft and fluffy.

Remove half the cream into another bowl.

Add the lemon curd to the cream, a little at a time, until you have a lemon cream of nice consistency. You can use more of the cream if you need.




Spread  a rectangle of whipped cream on the bottom of a large plate.

Arrange the cake cubes and berries over the cream.

Either pipe or spoon the lemon cream here and there over the fruits and cake. You don’t have to use it all, you’ll have some left over.

If you like it lemony spoon a a couple of lemon curd balls onto the plate.

Either pour some (not much) of the melted ice cream onto the desserts or serve it alongside letting each person pour some over the cake.

Enjoy this seasonal dessert.

Moonrise over the Okanagan Lake

Moonrise over the Okanagan Lake, view from Mission Hill Winery


Free from trifle

Free from trifle

Free form trifle

Free form trifle











  • Barb Chipeur says:

    Your wonderful description totally brings back the memories of your kitchen at Trail’s End. Wonderful fresh ingredients gathered on the massive granite centre island. Friends sitting on the counter chairs. You dressed in designer clothes and stilettos gently “teasing” the ingredients into what you called “simple food”. I can just hear you talking as I read your posts every week. Love it Dina!

    • Dina says:

      Barb, thank you so much for the lovely comment. Those were the days. I long for them now, stilettos and all. You guys, you know who you are, are still my favourite people to cook for (and eat with). Barb, you write so beautifully. You need to have a travel blog describing your excursions around the world, just like your mouth watering emails to us. Thanks for keeping up with the blog. XOXO.

  • bellini says:

    I was just thinking I would drizzle mine with lemon curd, and there it is!