Lemon Berry Trifle
Trifles are an ideal party dessert, especially in the spring and summer. Served in a lovely glass bowl or trifle dish, the presentation is equally impressive and beautiful. You can prepare trifles in advance and even though I recommend homemade cake for those layers, you can definitely get away with store-bought. Especially when you take the time to make homemade whipped cream and homemade lemon curd!
Trifles are as show-stopping as tall layer cakes, but worlds easier to assemble. There’s always an exciting new layer to discover and unlike Rachel’s trifle, each layer is pretty pleasant!!!
She made half an English trifle… and half a shepherd’s pie! (Lol that’s two Friends desserts in a week.)
Today’s lemon berry trifle is my latest kitchen creation. I assembled and photographed it a couple weeks ago when friends came to visit. It was an instant hit, so I made it again for my mother-in-law’s birthday this past weekend. The whole family gathered at our house to celebrate, so I chose this dessert not only because it feeds a lot, but for its ease of preparation. I also baked this easy funfetti cake with chocolate buttercream. Both desserts only had 1 serving left!
After preparing this lemon berry trifle for two separate large groups, I have some helpful make-ahead tips for you. But first, let’s discuss the layers.
4 LAYERS TO LOVE
- Lemon pound cake: I use and recommend my lemon pound cake recipe. You can prepare the cake a day or 2 in advance. Since there are other homemade components to the recipe, feel free to use store-bought pound cake or even angel food cake.
- Lemon cheesecake layer: The lemon cheesecake layer is the star of the show. It’s light, fluffy, and a pleasing balance of sweet and tart. It’s prepared with cream cheese, homemade lemon curd, vanilla extract, and homemade whipped cream. I strongly suggest using homemade lemon curd and homemade whipped cream in this lemon berry trifle. Both taste considerably more appetizing than their store-bought counterparts. Homemade lemon curd can be prepared up to a week in advance and the whipped cream is only 3 basic ingredients!
- Fresh berries: No extra steps here, just layer fresh berries right into the trifle. Whichever berries you use, I recommend using fresh. Frozen berries are a convenient substitution when fresh berries are not available, but they leak juices in the trifle layers regardless if you thaw or not before layering. Think about how you want the fruit to taste and go from there.
- Whipped cream: Always homemade. Prepared with heavy cream, a little sugar, and vanilla extract—you can’t go wrong with fluffy and lightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. Half of the whipped cream is beaten into the lemon cheesecake filling and the remaining half is spread or piped on top of the trifle. I used my Wilton 1M tip for piping.
THAT LEMON CHEESECAKE LAYER!
The lemon cheesecake layer was everyone's favorite. It reminded us of lemon mousse-- very light and very airy. Homemade whipped cream not only tops the entire trifle, but is beaten into the cheesecake layer itself. This addition incorporates air into the lemon cheesecake layer, promising a fluffy texture instead of a heavy texture.
All of the lemon flavor in this layer comes from lemon curd, so I definitely recommend using fresh. And all of the sweetness comes from the lemon curd and whipped cream. Store-bought versions of both, made with who the heck knows what, will quickly over-sweeten the entire dessert.
The lemon cheesecake layer uses 1 cup of my lemon curd recipe, so you'll have 1/2 cup leftover.
Homemade whipped cream is the finishing touch. You can use heavy whipping cream instead of heavy cream, but with its slightly higher fat percentage, heavy cream makes a sturdier whipped cream. If you're using your stand mixer, don't walk away from it. While beating heavy cream into whipped cream takes a few minutes, there's only a few seconds between perfectly whipped cream (delicious!) and over-whipped cream (lumpy!).
Rescue tip just in case: you can always fix over-whipped cream.
As we finished dessert on Sunday, I asked for everyone's opinion:
- Lemon is not overpowering
- Just the right about of sweet
- I'm having seconds
- The pound cake is really good on its own AND with all the layers
- The whipped cream is really creamy!
- My new favorite dessert
- So simple, but so good
- When can you make it again?
That last comment was my favorite!!
So there we have it. Lemon berry trifle is a stunning dessert that can be prepared in advance and impresses anyone who takes a bite. In my eyes, that’s the sweetest ending to any party meal!
Lemon Berry Trifle
- 1 9x5-inch loaf lemon pound cake, baked and cooled
- 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lemon Cheesecake & Berry Layers
- one 8-ounce block (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup lemon curd (homemade or store-bought), at room temperature
- 5-6 cups fresh berries (I use blueberries and raspberries)
- optional: additional berries and lemon slices for garnish
- Slice the lemon pound cake into 9 1-inch slices. Cut into bite-sized cubes. Set aside.
- Make the whipped cream: In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract together on high speed into stiff peaks, about 3 minutes. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use in step 4.
- Make the lemon cheesecake layer: In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy. Add the vanilla extract and lemon curd and beat on medium-high speed until combined. Lastly, beat in half of whipped cream (about 2 cups) that you prepared in step 2. Cover and store the remaining whipped cream in the refrigerator until used in step 5.
- Assemble: This trifle has 3 layers of pound cake, 3 layers of berries, and 2 layers of the lemon cheesecake mixture. Begin with a base of lemon pound cake cubes. Top with an even layer of fresh berries, then half of the lemon cheesecake mixture. Repeat. Finish with final layer of lemon pound cake cubes followed by a final layer of berries. Spread or pipe remaining whipped cream on top of the trifle. I used Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe the whipped cream on top. (Whisk the whipped cream to reincorporate any liquid if needed.)
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours (see make ahead tip if you wish to store longer). You can refrigerate uncovered for 2-4 hours, but I recommend loosely covering if storing longer than that. The time in the refrigerator gives the flavors a chance to settle and allows the pound cake to soak up some of the lemon cheesecake mixture.
- Garnish with extra berries and/or lemon slices and serve cold. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
Make ahead tip: I suggest making the homemade lemon pound cake 1 day ahead of time. Let it cool, then cover and store at room temperature overnight. You can prepare the lemon curd up to 1 week before using. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. After assembling the trifle, you can refrigerate for up to 6 hours before serving. If you wish to refrigerate for longer than 6 hours, I suggest making the whipped cream in two parts. To do so, only prepare half of it in step 2 (simply halve all the ingredients). Use this for folding into the lemon cheesecake layer in step 3. Prepare and assemble the trifle, then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. When ready to serve, prepare the remaining whipped cream and add it on top of the trifle.
- To save time, you can use store-bought pound cake or angel food cake.
- Interested in using frozen berries? Frozen berries are a nice substitution, but they will thaw and leak their juices in the trifle layers. If you thaw them before layering, they'll still be extra juicy.
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