Make Ahead English Mixed Berry & Rhubarb Trifle with a Classic Sponge Cake

For serious bakers, this spectacular dessert packed with berries will be the envy of everyone at your summer dinner party.

We have all had our share of heavy, sickly sweet pies, cakes and cookies while this summer has lagged on. I wanted to make something light and airy, but at the same time satisfying and sweet with just a touch of tartness. When you need tart- you have to go with rhubarb & ginger.

First of all, do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients or cooking instructions. This trifle is perfect for a make ahead show stopper dessert. The jam filling takes about 5 minutes to cook in a sauce pan. It is very easy and well worth the time. Most of the cake ingredients you probably have on hand in your pantry. Make a berry puree to moisten the sponge- takes 5 minutes.

If making a sponge cake is too time consuming, I recommend using a store bought or local bakery angel food cake or sponge. A pound cake, like Sara Lee, will be too sweet and heavy.

Cutting the sponge in half, I then made little chunks of cake and alternated with layers of the berry sauce, fresh berries and rhubarb “jam” and then topped with the Créme Anglaise and whipped cream. The result- a light, refreshing and oh so summery dessert. I have made this trifle multiple times and it really can take a double amount of creme anglais and berry puree. There is nothing worse than a dry trifle.

After deciding on a cake base, I then decided to up the flavor component of the rhubarb by adding fresh ginger- and lots of it. I made a jammy filling with the rhubarb, let it cool and whipped up heavy cream with a scant amount of sugar.

At first I wanted to make an angel food cake, but decided to wait another month for something with a chocolate component. More on that in a few weeks. Having watched endless episodes of The Great British Bake Off, I decided a Genoise Sponge Cake would be perfect. Its light and just barely sweet. But, being a purest, I also know not many people want to whip eggs over boiling water, so I opted for a simpler sponge based on The Silver Palates New Basics Cookbook. If you do not have this cookbook in your collection, I urge you to buy a copy.

My airy sponge cake incorporates sifted flour and whipped egg whites, yolks and sugar.

How to prepare the Summer Berry & Rhubarb Trifle:

  • First- make a batter by beating egg yolks and sugar, whip egg whites with salt and sugar, fold together with sifted flour, bake the sponge (just a fancy word for cake), let cool, then cut into squares
  • Make the Crème anglaise by heating milk and vanilla beans, temper with eggs and sugar, combine and cook until thick and let cool for 30 minutes
  • Make the rhubarb jam in a saucepan with a bit of sugar, lemon juice and fresh ginger and let cool
  • Throw the blueberries in a blender and puree til smooth then strain
  • Wash and prep the berries
  • Assemble the Trifle, cover with plastic and let rest overnight
  • Top with whipped cream, chill up to 2 hours or serve right away
Gently fold in the egg whites

Since we are doing a show stopper dessert, let’s throw in a Crème Anglaise to really impress the family.

Crème Anglaise is just a fancy vanilla custard- it takes just a few minutes to make and really takes the cake… ha ha. See the link on how to make mine HERE.

Refreshing Summer Desserts : Moist English Berry & Rhubarb-Ginger Trifle with a Classic Sponge

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Meggen Arthur Wilson Course: Holiday Baking, Recent Posts, Sweet ToothDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time





A make ahead show stopper dessert that will be the talk of the town this summer.


  • For the Sponge
  • 4 large 4 eggs, separated

  • 3/4 cups 3/4 sugar

  • 2 TBSP 2 sugar

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 vanilla paste or extract

  • 1 tsp 1 lemon paste or extract

  • pinch pinch Kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 All Purpose flour

  • 4 TBSP 4 melted butter, cooled

  • Blueberry Sauce & Rhubarb Jam
  • 2 cups 2 blueberries

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 sugar

  • 1 TBSP 1 fresh lemon juice

  • 6-7 cups 6-7 rhubarb, cut into 1-2″ pieces, stems and leaves removed

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 sugar

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 fresh lemon juice

  • 2 TBSP 2 freshen chopped ginger

  • 4 cups 4 mixed berries- blueberries, blackberries, raspberries

  • Whipped Topping
  • 1 cup 1 heavy whipping cream

  • 1 tsp 1 vanilla paste

  • 2 TBSP 2 powdered sugar

  • Créme Anglaise Filling – see this post


  • For the Sponge
  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9″ spring form pan
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar. Beat on high until mixture is thick and pale yellow. add in 1/2 tsp vanilla paste and lemon paste or extract. Scrap into a large bowl. Cover and set aside. Wash the bowl and whisk of the stand mixer.
  • Beat the egg whites, salt until they form stiff peaks. Add in remaining 2 TBSP of sugar and beat about 20-25 seconds more.
  • Fold one third of the egg white mixture Ito the egg yolks and sugar. Sift over one third of the flour. Repeat taking care not to deflate the egg whites until all the ingredients are well combined. Gently fold in the melted butter. Pour the batter into he spring from pan and bake for 25 minutes until he tops golden brown. Let the pan cool for 5 minutes, then release from he pan. Cut into 2″ cubes. Place one layer of the cubes into the trifle dish. Finish assembling in directions below.
  • For the Rhubarb Jam and Blueberry Sauce
  • In a heavy sauce pan, combine the rhubarb, ginger, lemon juice and sugar. Stir on medium high until Mixture comes to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Stir every minute or so to prevent sticking. after 5 minutes the rhubarb will break down into a “jam”. Scrape jam into a bowl until ready to assemble trifle.
  • In a blender, add the 2 cups of blueberries, 1 TBSP lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar. Process for 10 seconds or until nearly smooth. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the skins. Set aside until ready to assemble.
  • For The Whipped Topping
  • Just before serving, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream on medium low until frothy: about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and add the vanilla and sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. Spread over top of prepared trifle. Chill up to 2 hours or until ready to serve.
  • For the Créme Anglaise:
  • Follow the directions in this link, then stop after you chill the custard for 30 minutes.
  • To Assemble the Trifle:
  • In a glass trifle dish or large glass bowl, add half of the cut sponge cubes. Pour over 1 cup of the blueberry sauce. Top with 1/2 the fresh berries. Cover with the rhubarb jam.
  • Add the remaining sponge cake, berry sauce, remaining fresh berries, Crème anglaise. Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Top the trifle with the whipped cream topping .


  • To simplify this recipe: you can substitute store bought jam instead of making homemade.
  • Frozen berries for the blueberry sauce work great. macerate the berries in the sugar and juice for about 30 minutes to release more juice.
  • You can bake the sponge and freeze for up to 3 months before using for this trifle.
  • Don’t want to fuss with crème anglaise- just use more whipped cream in between the layers OR an instant vanilla pudding mix. ( gasp- I won’t tell). Chill for only 4-8 hours- not overnight. the whipped cream will breakdown.
Light, airy and summery- Berry & Rhubarb Trifle

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *