I can't think of baking when the weather is so hot and humid that all I want to do is just turn on the air conditioning and pretend my room is a fridge and I'm a lukewarm bottle of white wine in need of a good chill.
But a dessert was needed for a barbecue on a hot June day, so I decided to go with trifle since it was a no-bake dessert and since berries are in season. What better use of berries than in a trifle? Don't answer that, just check out the recipe and assemblage instructions below and you'll see what I mean.
Berry Trifle with Lemon Vanilla Cream
1 store bought Vanilla Angel Food Cake
1 recipe Lemon Vanilla Cream
4 cups mixed macerated berries
Whipped Cream, about 1 or 1 1/2 cups
I used store bought Vanilla Angel Food Cake (already prepared mind you) because I was trying not to turn on the oven. What you need to do with this is slice it into 1/4 inch slices and set aside until assembling time.
Regarding the berries, I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - but you can use any summer berries you like. I added a 1/4 cup of white sugar, juice from half a lemon and zest from half a lemon to the berries, tossed to combine and set aside.
Now, for the Lemon Vanilla Cream (adapted from Mark Bittman's version)
2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
zest from half a lemon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Mix together the 2 cups of half-and-half or milk, sugar and salt in a small or medium saucepan over medium-low heat. If using a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into milk or half-and-half using small sharp knife. Do not discard the pod.* Cook just until mixture begins to steam.
Combine cornstarch and remaining milk or half-and-half in a bowl and blend; there should be no lumps. Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in butter and lemon zest.
Pour mixture into a bowl or dish to cool. Put plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent formation of a skin, or do not cover if you like skin. Refrigerate until chilled.
*I put the vanilla pod in my white sugar bowl to make vanilla sugar - it's definitely added a little something extra to my coffee!
In a glass trifle dish, or in my case, an 8-inch square glass dish, lay down a layer of the sliced angel food cake. Then dollop on a third of the lemon vanilla cream on top of the slices. Add a third of the berries and the juice from the maceration. Repeat until all layers are complete and then pipe the whipped cream around the edges. Voila - Summer Berry Trifle! Perfect for a lazy summer evening after a BBQ.