Summer Berry Trifle

I don’t have very many Fourth of July food traditions, but there was one dessert my grandma and I used to make every year: the quintessential flag cake.

I’m sure most of you know the cake I am talking about as I’m sure it has appeared on almost every Fourth of July spread at some point in time. Vanilla sheet cake, vanilla frosting, cut strawberries, or raspberries, laid across to create the stripes in the American flag, 50 blueberries placed in the upper left corner to mimic the flag’s stars.

It is a delightful classic, but I decided this classic needed a major makeover. As much as I love the original, oftentimes the red from the strawberries bleeds into the vanilla frosting if decorated ahead of time and who wants to be laying out lines of strawberries in the kitchen while everyone else is outside enjoying the barbecue.

Also, I am all about multi purposing and the flag cake is not really an enjoy-it-all-summer-long kind of treat. When I was looking through an old issue of the Food Network magazine I came across the perfect solution: this patriotic berry trifle.

Cubes of moist angel food cake are layered with fluffy homemade whipped cream and fresh sweet berries to create a delicious, fuss-free, make-ahead, presentation-worthy dessert. Now that’s a quadruple win right there!

I must admit that I had a serious addiction to this dessert and may have eaten three servings in one sitting… I’ll never tell!

Perfect for your Fourth of July party, Labor Day potluck and just-because-it’s-a-nice-day-out barbecue.

Summer Berry Trifle
Yield: 8-10 servings
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pre-made angel food cake, cut into 1" slices
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces fat free Cool Whip
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 2 pints blueberries, washed and stems removed
  • 2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled and thinly sliced
  1. Over medium-high heat in a small saucepan heat ¼ cup of the sugar and ¼ cup of the lemon juice. Stir frequently while heating until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
  2. Lay the angel food cake slices face down and brush with the syrup. Flip over and brush the other side of the cake slices. Cut into 1" cubes.
  3. Beat the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cream cheese on medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add the Cool Whip and very lightly beat until smooth. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon juice, to taste.
  4. Using a 13 cup trifle bowl place half the cake cubes in an even layer on the bottom. Add a layer of ⅓ of the blueberries, followed by half the cream mixture. Layer with half of the sliced strawberries, followed by the remaining cake. Then layer ⅓ of the blueberries, followed by the remaining cream mixture.
  5. Top with a layer of strawberries overlapping around the edge of the bowl. Place the remaining ⅓ of blueberries on the top in the center. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
For easiest preparation, cut angel food cake with a serrated knife in a slow sawing motion.

Recipe slightly adapted from the July/August 2010 issue of The Food Network Magazine.