Sunday, 10 August 2008

Trifle Cake and the Unveiling of The Lovely Wife...

Today is The Lovely Wife's Birthday! I wrote yesterday how much she loves Trifle and how I had decided to make a Trifle Cake for her. I used Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe, first baked for the March Daring Bakers Challenge, as the base for the Trifle Cake. This is truly a wonderful cake that is so delicious and practically melts in the mouth.

The cake turned out really well and The Lovely Wife loved it so much that she Finally agreed to let me post pictures of her on my blog. Hence the Unveiling of The Lovely Wife...!

Although I have made trifle many times, this is the first time I ever thought to make it as a cake. This cake also has many firsts. Its the first time I used jam rather than jelly (what my American friends would call Jello) as a layer. Its also the first time I made my own Creme Patisserie or Pastry Cream and also the very first time I have used Vanilla Pods! I usually simply use Vanilla Essence. Finally, it is also the very first time I have coloured cream. So yes, many firsts on this Dessert Cake.

This is what I did. (See end of post for individual component recipes)

1 recipe Perfect Party Cake
1 recipe Pastry Cream (from
1 can of mixed fruits
250gm jar of Strawberry Jam
1/8 cup water
2 tsp gelatine powder
1/6 cup Brandy
400 ml
3 Tbsp Icing Sugar
1 tsp vanilla Essence
200g Almond Nibs

Bake the Cakes as per the recipe and set aside. Make the Pastry Cream as per the recipe and set aside. Place one layer of cake on a cake board. Trim the top if necessary to get a flat cake. Drain the fruits and then arrange neatly on top of the cake.
Melt Jam with water until smooth. Add in the gelatine and stir until all the gelatine is dissolved. Allow to cool slightly. While still warm, spoon the jam evenly over the fruits taking care not to let the jam spill over the sides. Place in fridge a little while to firm up.
Place second layer on top of fruits. Press down slightly and then cover the top with Pastry Cream. Place in fridge for a little while to firm up. Meanwhile, whisk the Whipping Cream with Icing sugar and Vanilla Essence until stiff peaks form. Cover top and sides of cake with the cream. Cover top of cake with Almond Nibs. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

While I was adding the Pastry Cream to the cake, somehow my hands slipped and the pyrex bowl came tumbling down - onto the cake, knocking some of the cream off the top of the cake and on to the sides - and then the bowl went crashing to the floor and shattered! I was NOT happy and still don't know how I managed to let the bowl slip. Anyway, I managed to salvage the Pastry Cream off the sides of the cake and put it back on top. Fortunately there wasn't that much pastry cream left in the bowl so not great loss - other than the bowl of course.

Since I had some remaining cream and since I wanted to make the cake pretty, I whipped the extra cream with a dash of red colouring and piped it over the cake. It was getting a little late and my consistency wasn't as firm as it should have been which is why the stars are not as pretty as they should be! It always tough getting cream whipped to the right consistency, especially in warm, humid Malaysia.

When The Lovely Wife saw the cake sitting pretty in the fridge, she remarked that it looked lovely and asked me what cake it was. I told her it was a Trifle Cake and she looked at me almost in disbelief. I laughed and told her to just wait till she cut the cake as I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out anyhow. My biggest fear was that the cake wouldn't cut properly or worse still, would not stand on its own once sliced.

It turned out wonderfully though! The kids had fun taking pictures with Mummy cutting the cake.

Although I was enjoying taking the photos, I was also waiting for The Lovely Wife to take a taste of the cake. It's also sad that being the one behind the camera, there are no photos with me. Hopefully one day my kids will take up an interest in photography too - then they can take all the pictures!

The Lovely Wife was thrilled with the cake and pronounced it more than a success. She thought it tasted just like a trifle but the fact that it was in the form of a cake and wasn't 'messy' like how a trifle is after scooping out into a bowl got bonus marks! She just wasn't sure if she preferred a layer of jelly to jam but that is something that is easily fixed.

The kids loved it too and they were excited to celebrate Mummy's birthday with so many photos. There was a lot of fun to be had as well as you can see below. This is where The Lovely Wife scooped up some pink coloured cream and placed it on my daughter's nose!

What I particularly liked about this dessert is that is very little wastage. 4 egg whites are needed for the Cake while 3 egg yolks are needed for the Pastry Cream. I actually considered using 4 yolks but didn't want to tempt fate. I'll probably try that another time.

Another creation to add to my list of winning desserts. I must say I was very pleased with how this cake turned out but what was most pleasing was how happy The Lovely Wife was with the cake. Happy Birthday Honey!

Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).
For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up

Creme Patissierie/ Pastry Cream by Stephanie Jaworski

1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 cup (20 grams) all-purpose flour
Scant 3 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch

In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.

Meanwhile in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. (The milk will foam up to the top of pan when done, so watch carefully.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor. This sugar can then be used in baking where you would like a vanilla-flavored sugar, e.g. pies, cakes, cookies.)

Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.


glamah16 said...

Bravo my friend! This looks like perfection. I love that Perfect Party cake recipe. You can adapt it to so many ideas and cant go wrong. Your wife is beautiful. Now I see where the kids get there good genes( and you of course!). So I haope she had a lovely day spiled and indulged by her family.

David T. Macknet said...

Beautiful cake!

By the way, just have to call you out on this one: you have the same camera I do, so I know that you have a self-timer function on there, so you could set the camera down, press the shutter, and dash over to get in the picture. So even if you don't have a remote or a tripod, you can make it work - I've done it, so can you! And I got my camera after you got yours, so you should know....

:) :) :)

Happy birthday to your dear wife.

Thistlemoon said...

WOWZA!!!! Your lovely wife is just GORGEOUS! Hi!!!! :) (*waves at Lovely Wife*) - that looks like a fantastic cake! Will you make a trifle for my birthday too Dharm? I mean, you already have my address and everything! :)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

gorgeous - the wife! hi wife ;-) the looks great to! What I am wondering though is what you did to get yourself such a nice looking lady and kids? Hugs!

Di said...

The cake looks wonderful, and you have a beautiful family.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

The cake looks so wonderful Dharm! Your wife is so beautiful!!!

GFAD said...

The wife is indeed-y lurver-ly. Happy Birthday, Mrs Dharm!

Such a sweet looking cake. I was just hinting to hubby that he has not bought me a birthday cake, let alone bake one, for quite a while now. We'll see what he comes up with.. :D


Poonam said...


Anonymous said...

Dharm, look how far you have come! What a fantastic cake!
Your wife is indeed lovely!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Dharm, beautiful cake and beautiful family. My best to your wife on her birthday. Today is my husbands birthday and he got his favorite, Chocolate of course. Personally I'll go along with your wife with strawberry.

Anonymous said...

Dharm, what a lovely cake for an absolutely lovely woman. You can see the joy and love for you and her family in her face.

giz said...

Beeeeauuuutifulll looking b-day cake. You're a good husband and I'm so sure the lovely wife (and she is lovely) really appreciated your efforts. But who's making your birthday cake?

Nikki @ NikSnacks said...

You're such a good husband, baking a cake for your beautiful wife. :)

Cynthia said...

moAt last we get to see the lovely wife and she is indeed lovely! Look at that smile. You are blessed with a wonderful family.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The Perfect Party Cake was one to be repeated Dharm. Your kids are so beautiful that we knew your wife had to be gorgeous as's genes fit in there too of course:D

BumbleVee said...

oh, yum..... looks like plenty of work and well worth the your efforts...

everybody is enjoying the day...such fun to see.

maybelles mom said...

wow your wife really is lovely. the cake seems like a real winner.

Anonymous said...

Dharm -

Your wife and kids are gorgeous! I love the pic where mom and the little girl are having a hearty laugh!

God bless your family!


Jen said...

Your wife is beautiful. :)


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