Lemon-Raspberry Plate Trifle

I had high hopes for this baking adventure. Maybe that's where I went wrong. 

I love cooking, but baking always seemed like too much chemistry for me. I can combine textures and flavors on a whim, but combining ingredients that chemically react with each other is a little bit more challenging. 

If you know me at all, you know that I can follow directions. In fact, I love following directions. So, I've always thought that if the recipe is written well, then I can make it turn out just by following the directions to the letter. That's what I tried to do with this birthday cake for my husband (our birthdays are just a few days apart). But alas, practice was needed to make this cake turn out perfectly.

The base of this trifle was actually the easiest part, ironic because that's the actual baking part. The cake is a dense lemon cake that after baking is soaked in a lemon-syrup. I cannot think of a better scent to have floating through my home on a summer day than an intensely lemon flavored cake. Everything went perfectly. I was even able to remove the cake from the pan without it breaking! 

The middle part of the trifle is simply fresh raspberries. This sounds incredibly easy... Yet, this is the step when all went downhill. My once beautiful, delicious raspberries were now turning to mush and fuzzy with mold. I had purchased them too many days ago...  I lamented as I thought of my grandmother's beautiful raspberry patch that yielded five gallons of raspberries this year (ironically, my grandmother claims this was not a stellar year). I picked through my sad pint of raspberries only to be able to use just 1/3 of the container. The berries are key to this dish; I realize now. Their lovely tartness contrasts beautifully with the sweet cake and syllabub.

Ah, the syllabub. Syllabub has the texture of pudding and is made from sweetened liquor and heavy cream. Simply divine. They key is to use a liquor that you love and not to whip the cream too much. Syllabub has soft peaks and is dense; whipped cream has stiff peaks and is light and fluffy. This recipe called for sherry as the alcohol. Not only don't I like sherry, but I used a horribly cheap sherry that should only be used when actually cooking, if at all. I think amaretto would be much better. Plus, I whipped the cream into a frenzy and ended up with something much lighter than I had expected. Nigella Lawson (author of this recipe and the book How to Be a Domestic Goddess) has a great video demonstrating how to make syllabub. Watch it before you make syllabub for the first time.

A photo-shoot gone awry... This piece wanted to be upside down on the table first! 

Our biweekly CSA veggies arrived to make up for the cake failure! I'm so excited to see what will be created from these veggies! 

Lemon-Raspberry Plate Trifle
Serves 10 (at least), Recipe created by Nigella Lawson

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
3 lemons
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon self-rising cake flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Syllabub and Filling:
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
8 tablespoons dry sherry (or a liquor you love)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 lemon
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 pint raspberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment or wax paper. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and the zest of one lemon; beat in well. Add the flour and salt, folding in gently but thoroughly, and then the milk. Spoon into the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. While the cake is baking, make the lemon-syrup by placing the juice of three lemons and the confectioners' sugar in a small sauce pan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar.
  4. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the cake using a toothpick or similar device. Pour the syrup all over the cake to saturate it. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. 
  5. Mix the sherry, sugar, and juice and zest of the lemon in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the cream and beat until airy and floppily bulky. 
  6. To assemble, slice the cake in half, top with fresh berries. Spread the syllabub over the top of the raspberries and sprinkle the almonds on the top.

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