Layers of sweet corn cake, gingery peaches and cream make a delectable departure from the traditional English trifle. Refreshing and full of sweet peaches and spicy ginger flavor, it’s an ideal treat for any summer day. All steps can be prepared in advance, so it’s perfect for entertaining. Partial to individual servings, we adore the idea of assembling the trifle in single glasses.
4-6 servings, depending on glass size
For the corn cake:
¾ cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn flour (or finely ground cornmeal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter
1½ teaspoons vanilla
For the ginger cream:
2 cups milk
1½-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
½ vanilla bean, halved and scraped
6 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, soft
For the macerated peaches:
4 ripe but firm peaches
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the trifle:
Ginger Pastry Cream
½ cup candied or crystallized ginger, chopped
1 fresh peach, ripe but firm
4 sprigs fresh mint (optional)
Prepare the corn cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a 12×15 inch (or similar size) baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a nonstick silpat.
Sift together the sugar, flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the butter and cream all together until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each. Mix in the vanilla.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden. Cool completely before preparing the trifle. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for easier cutting. The cake is best if made 1 day ahead so you have time to for it to chill.
Prepare the ginger cream:
Place the milk, ginger and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then turn off heat and allow the ginger and vanilla to steep in the milk for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding the ginger and vanilla bean.
Combine the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl, whisking until pale and well combined; whisk in the cornstarch. Bring the milk back to a simmer and temper with the yolks by adding a small amount of the hot milk to the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour, then add the warmed yolks into the saucepan with the remaining milk and whisk to combine.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1-2 minutes, whisking until cream is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Pour the cream into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to seal out air and prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use, for up to 3 days.
Prepare the macerated peaches:
Cut each peach in half, remove the pit, and thinly slice each half into about 10 slices. Gently toss the peaches with the lime juice, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Macerate at least 1-4 hours.
Prepare the whipped cream:
Place the heavy cream, bowl and beaters in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before making the whipped cream. Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in the chilled bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative piping tip. Use immediately or chill for up to 4 hours.
[Chef’s Note: Save the used vanilla bean, clean and dry in the oven overnight (at 200°F), and use to make vanilla sugar.
The less time you macerate the peaches, the firmer they will be in the trifle, but the longer you do, the more they will develop a sweeter and more lime flavor.
This may seem like a daunting recipe, but it is actually quite simple, as you can prepare each component at least a day ahead of serving time.]
6 wide rimmed clear glasses (we like large red wine glasses for the depth)
Pastry bags and a large piping tip
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into 1-inch cubes. The cake will be easier to cut if it has been refrigerated. Begin assembling the trifle by placing a layer of cake cubes on the bottom of each glass, fitting them together to form an even layer. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the ginger cream on top the cake layer, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of candied ginger on top of the cream, then fan about 6 macerated peach slices over the cream, positioning the skin to face the outer edge of the glass. Continue the layering process again with the cake cubes until you have almost reached the top of the glass. You should be able to fit 3 layers, depending on the size of your glass.
Using the prepared bag of whipped cream, pipe a swirl on the top of each glass; starting from the outer edge, work toward the center layering each round as you get closer to the center to form a point.
Using the same method for cutting the macerated peaches, thinly slice the fresh peach to use as a garnish. Top each glass with 3 slices of the peach, fanned out, and a fresh sprig of mint.
If you are not a fan of ginger (an idea we cannot fathom), you can make a vanilla cream by omitting the ginger and increasing the half to a whole vanilla bean. Follow the above instructions without the ginger.
Feel free to assemble the trifle, following the same layering scheme, in one large trifle bowl rather than individual glasses if you prefer.
Recipe and photo by Monica Glass