Summer Berry Trifle

This patriotic strawberry summer berry trifle packed with fresh fruit, whipped cream, vanilla creme anglaise and strawberry jam is the perfect holiday dessert for your star spangled spread.

a trifle dish with strawberries and blueberries on a wooden picnic table and a blue gingham checked tablecloth

There are 2 ways to make this Summer Berry Trifle: One easy or One from Scratch

The easy way-

I see it all over the internet- slap some Sarah Lee Pound cake in a dish with strawberry jam, a pile of chopped berries, top it with Cool Whip and call it done. That’s fine. Live your life.

Or… there’s The Meggen Way:

I’m not saying this recipe is easy, But I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.

Give yourself a full morning to make this recipe. There are 5 components: a jam layer, cake layer, custard layer, berries and whipped cream. This recipe needs to chill a FULL 2 HOURS before serving.

a bowl of four eggs, a jar of flour, sugar and butter on a black counter top

If you have been following me for ANY length of time, you know one thing, I rarely take short cuts. I love the process of baking, creating, testing and serving up the best dishes I can. This is one of those recipes.

First we are going to make a light sponge cake by separating eggs, whipping them with sugar, folding them into sifted flour and adding in butter. Bake this light batter in a spring-form pan and you have a perfect little cake as the base for this recipe.

  • a yellow bowl with a cake batter in it
    sift and fold the flour into the beaten egg yolks and egg whites
  • heavy whipped egg whites on a whisk
    the white whites should look like this
  • a golden yellow cake in a spring form cake pan
    the golden cake ready to go into the trifle
three kinds of cake on a cutting board next to a bowl of strawberries

Next Steps:

Then we are going to make a quick berry jam- I mean quick- throw strawberries, lemon juice and sugar into a pan- bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Pour that into the bottom of your trifle dish. Top with the cake, that you have cut up into cubes, add a layer of berries, then pour a Crème Anglaise custard over that layer- what? It’s the base of my banana pudding. It’s just vanilla pudding. Next layer- more cake, whipped cream. Repeat.

Crème Anglaise is just heating milk, adding in a vanilla bean or vanilla extract, and slowly tempering egg yolks, cornstarch, salt and sugar that have been whisked together – that’s it. I make it so often I don’t even look at the recipe anymore.

a trifle dish with a layer of strawberry jam and a cut up cake

Equipment needed for this Summer Berry Trifle:

  • 9″ spring-form pan
  • stand mixer
  • large sauce pan
  • serrated knife
  • paring knife
  • ladle
  • whisk
  • scraper
  • large mixing bowl
  • off-set spatula
  • glass trifle dish- I love this one by Sur la Table
a trifle dish with a layer of vanilla creme pat and a pound cake and a bowl of strawberries

How to Assemble a Summer Berry Trifle:

  • Layer the trifle dish with 1 cup of fresh strawberry jam
  • Add a layer of cut up cake
  • Slide sliced strawberries down the side facing out- so it’s pretty to look at
  • Pour a layer of Crème Anglaise over the cake
  • Next- Add a layer of sliced berries
  • Top the berries with freshly whipped cream
  • Repeat starting with the cake layer, then Crème Anglaise, berries and whipped cream
  • Top with thinly sliced berries fanned out of the top of the trifle and wild strawberry blossoms- because you’re so extra
a trifle dish filled with a layer of whipped cream


  1. The cake will look likes it’s not going to be enough- it’s just a one layer cake and it is the perfect amount for this recipe.
  2. Make the jam up to a week in advance.
  3. Make the cake in advance and freeze it.
a woman's hand filling trifle dish with cubs of cut up golden yellow cake

Shortcuts to make this Strawberry Trifle:

  • Use a store bought pound cake or angel food- I don’t need to know
  • Try a box mix for the cake. I prefer this one by Duncan Hines.
  • Use a store bought jam- heat up so it loosens a bit
  • Lemon curd make a great substitute for the jam as well
  • An instant pudding mix will work or a deli-style vanilla pudding for the cream layer- BUT- the Crème Anglaise is far superior in flavor and is so quick to mix up. Just sayin’ .
  • No frozen whipped topping- just no. You’ve got to whip up that fresh whipping cream. No cheating on this step.
a trifle dish filled with fruit and cream

If you like Strawberry Summer Trifle- try these recipes as well:

  1. English Berry and Rhubarb Trifle
  2. Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
  3. Glazed Strawberry Bread
  4. Mixed Berry Shortcake
  5. Mixed Berry Pavlova with Cream
a trifle dish topped off with a layer of whipped cream

Common Questions:

Can I make this dessert in advance?

Yes, the flavor actually tastes best if you let the layers soak into each other for at least 8 hours. Store the leftover trifle, covered, in the fridge for 3 days. After 3 days the berries and whipped cream begin to break down.

Can I use frozen berries?

Yes and no- The texture of frozen strawberries is not the same as fresh berries and you cannot slice frozen berries and layer them up the side of the trifle dish, BUT- frozen raspberries and blue berries work very well. Thaw the fruit, pat until slightly dry on paper towels and use as directed. You can use frozen strawberries to make the jam.

Does this dessert freeze?

No – the whipped cream and custard will break down in the freezer.

What other fruit would work in this trifle?

Any stone fruit like cherries, peaches, plums or nectarines would be delicious. I would avoid citrus.

Is this recipe gluten or dairy free?

No- but you could make a whipped aquafaba cream and use a gluten free cake recipe. I’m not certain how to make a dairy free custard, but you could use an additional layer of jam instead of the custard.

Can I freeze the cake in advance?

Yes- you can bake the cake and then wrap the completely cooled cake in plastic wrap, pop in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just thaw it overnight in the fridge and cut and use as directed in the recipe.

I don’t have a trifle dish? What else can I use?

Any clear glass bowl of deep glass dish will work. It’s best to use glass so you can see all the beautiful layers. trifle dishes are very inexpressive. I’ll bet a neighbor or friend has one in their pantry they’d be happy to share. Try thrift shops or garage sales as well.
Do NOT use an old glass flower vase- they are not made with food safe glass and there may be lead in those type of containers.

a trifle dish filled with strawberries and blueberries on a picnic table

Summer Berry Trifle

Recipe by Meggen Arthur Wilson
Course: DessertCuisine: EnglishDifficulty: intermediate


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This showstopper homemade summer berry trifle features a fresh berry jam, a light sponge cake, mounds of fresh berries, whipped cream, and a mouthwatering creme anglaise. It’s the perfect dessert for summer holidays. Make early in the day or overnight.


  • For the Sponge
  • 4 large eggs , separated

  • 3/4 cups sugar

  • 2 TBSP sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract

  • 1/2 tsp lemon paste or extract

  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup All Purpose flour

  • 4 TBSP melted unsalted butter , cooled

  • For the Strawberry 5-minute Jam
  • 2 cups strawberries, stems removed, washed and chopped

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

  • For the Créme Anglaise
  • 3 cups whole milk

  • 2 large whole vanilla beans – split in half, seeds scraped out OR

  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 21/2 TBSP corn starch

  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 TBSP butter , cut into pieces

  • For the Whipped Topping:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

  • 1 TBSP sugar

  • Fresh Fruit
  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

  • 2 cups blueberries

  • 4-5 edible flowers such as wild strawberry blossoms or pansies


  • 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 for 3- 4 minutes on high speed until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add in 1/2 tsp vanilla paste and lemon paste or extract. Scrape into a large bowl. Cover and set aside. Wash the bowl and whisk of the stand mixer.
  • In the same bowl of the stand mixture with a whisk attachment ( make certain it has been throughly washed) Beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks- about 2 minutes on high speed. Add in remaining 2 TBSP of sugar and beat about 20-25 seconds more on high .
  • With a silicone spatula, fold one third of the egg white mixture into the beaten 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 cooled melted butter. Pour the batter into the spring from pan and bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the pan cool for 5 minutes, then release from the pan. Once the cake is cooled, cut into 2″ cubes. Finish assembling in directions below.
  • For the Créme Anglaise:
  • Bring milk and scraped vanilla seeds and empty vanilla pods to a simmer over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed medium size sauce pan. After 2 minutes, Using tongs, remove the pods from the warm milk. If using vanilla paste- just add to warm milk-omit the whole beans.
  • Thoroughly combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add in yolks and whisk well until thick paste is formed.
  • Add a ladle (about 1/4-1/2 cup) of the hot milk to the sugar/egg mixture to temper*. Whisk the milk in gently to incorporate. Add 3-4 more ladles of hot milk, (whisking in between) until yolks are warmed. Turn the saucepan of remaining milk to down to low heat. Gently pour the now tempered egg mixture into the saucepan of remaining hot milk and whisk constantly until custard/ pudding comes to a slow boil and thickens. Small bubbles will form as it thickens. Keep whisking.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in butter.
  • Transfer the pudding mixture to a bowl, cover the surface of pudding with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. With the tip of a knife, poke a few tiny holes in the plastic, to allow steam to escape. Let rest for 30 minutes until just tepid.
  • For the Strawberry Jam Filling
  • In a heavy sauce pan, combine the strawberries, 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 berries will break down into a “jam”. Add a tablespoon of water at a time if the mixture is too thick. Berries have different amounts of water in them. Scrape berry filling into a bowl until ready to assemble trifle. You can make this filling in advance and keep in an airtight jar in your fridge for up to 1 week.
  • For the Whipped Topping:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream on medium low until frothy for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and add the vanilla and sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. Chill up to 2 hours or until ready to serve.
  • To Assemble the Trifle:
  • In a glass trifle dish or large glass bowl, spread all of the berry jam over the bottom of the dish. Add half of the cut sponge cake cubes. Reserve 1 cup of whole berries to use for the top garnish.
  • Slide a layer of sliced strawberries against the glass so they show through just above the cake layer. Add half of the a layer of the Crème Anglaise/ custard to the cake layer. Top the custard with sliced berries.
  • Top the sliced strawberries and blueberries with 1/2 of the whipped cream mixture.
  • Next add the remaining sponge cake, remaining Crème anglaise/ custard another layers of fresh berries, and top with whipped cream. Smooth the whipped cream with an off-set spatula for a very even layer.

    Create a pattern with sliced strawberries fanning out over the whipped cream. Sprinkle blueberries among the strawberries. Dot with edible flowers or w,ild strawberry blossoms. . Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving or overnight.


  • *tempering means to slowly add a hot liquid to eggs to prevent them from scrambling.

a trifle dish filled with strawberries and blueberries on a picnic table

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