This Lemon and Berry Trifle recipe is a keeper… Trifle sponge (gluten free or not), spread with lemon curd and soaked in Limoncello Liqueur… layered with homemade tangy berry compote and topped with plenty of Mascarpone custard and pillowy whipped cream. The perfect dessert.
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Lemon and Berry Trifle… Eye catching and delicious
I have it on good authority that this Lemon and Berry Trifle is good… Hubbie declared it to be quite possibly his favourite ever trifle. And he’s a serious trifle lover… The sort of guy who would choose trifle over birthday cake any day. So, I’ll take it as a huge compliment!
It’s fresh and summery, but equally delicious as a Christmas and winter dessert too. Made with traditional trifle sponges… it is layered with homemade berry compote, a little zesty lemon (or citrus) curd, a dash of boozy Limoncello liqueur and lashings of sumptuous Mascarpone custard and pillowy whipped cream. Tempted?
The origins of my Gluten Free Lemon and Berry Trifle
The origins of this gluten free Lemon and Berry Trifle go back several years. Indeed, it was one of the first posts ever shared at Gluten Free Alchemist, way back in 2013. But it partly originates with Waitrose and was adapted from a freebie recipe card that I picked up on a visit to one of their stores.
The adaptations I made have been to change the cake to trifle sponges (and specifically to make gluten free ones) and to add the berry compote. But otherwise, the recipe is essentially the same (or in my humble opinion, better)… And remains tangy, boozy, sharp and sweet all at the same time… With a nutty pistachio topping.
What Trifle Sponges are best for making a Gluten Free Lemon and Berry Trifle?
When making a Berry Trifle, you want the berries to shine… A very fruity, deep and tangy loveliness that leaves you feeling fresh and zingy. With a tartness that sits in perfect harmony against the decadent, rich and sweet custard and cloud-light cream.
So, for me… The best trifle sponges in a Lemon and Berry Trifle should be ones that are not over-sweet and are simple and plain… That soak up the Limoncello liqueur (or juice) and layer well. In short… Traditional Trifle Sponges… Made with a light Genoise sponge
If you eat gluten, you can buy them at the supermarket. If you are gluten free, you can’t. But… They are super-easy to make and the extra effort will make this trifle utterly divine! To make it straight forward, I have an epic gluten free trifle sponge recipe that you can find here…
If you do need to use an alternative sponge, pick something as plain as possible… maybe Madeleines or Madeira cake…
Can I use different fruit in Lemon and Berry Trifle?
Trifles are as versatile as any dessert you might ever come across… But this is a Berry Trifle, so I guess, logically, it’s a good plan to stick with berries… However. There are a multitude of berries out there and the berries you choose to use can be varied according to season and where you are in the world. And all seem to pair well with lemon!
Although the recipe shared uses raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, you can use any of the many berries you can source. Combine and try…
- Golden or White Raspberries
Do I have to use lemon curd and Limoncello?
The addition of lemon curd and Limoncello to a berry trifle is undeniably a perfect pairing. The sweet yet tangy creaminess of the curd (whether homemade or shop-bought) adds another textural layer. And the Limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) offers the complementary boozy hit that every trifle deserves.
For those of you who aren’t lemon lovers however, it’s fine to use something alternative. Maybe try substituting a favourite jam to spread on the sponges (or just use the compote that is already in the recipe).
And if you want to avoid alcohol altogether, just sub with a little apple, cranberry or even pineapple juice.
What’s so special about Mascarpone Custard?
This Lemon and Berry Trifle uses a traditional combination of sponge, fruit, custard and cream. But with a twist… The custard has been whipped with a little Mascarpone cream cheese.
I’m a huge fan of Mascarpone. Whether whipped into cream, ice cream or used in cheesecake, it brings a richness and decadence that is mild yet sophisticated. And for my Lemon and Berry Trifle, its addition to the custard takes it from not just any trifle, but to a trifle deserving of its place on the table of any celebration or dinner party. Although that doesn’t by any means limit its eating to special occasions.
Of course, as always, if you prefer to use straight custard, that’s fine too.
Ready to make Lemon and Berry Trifle (gluten free or not…)?
So, there we have it… Lemon and Berry Trifle. It’s gone down a storm here, so I really hope you enjoy it as much…
If you make it, do let me know how you found it… And whether you made any changes… Leave a comment, rate the recipe and share the link with your friends and on social media, so everyone else can enjoy it too. You’ll find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. (#glutenfreealchemist)
A few more trifles to tempt you…
Lemon and Berry Trifle
- sharp knife
- flat knife
- large glass bowl or small glass serving dishes
- 200 g raspberries
- 200 g blueberries
- 200 g strawberries hulled and chopped
- 30 g caster sugar
- 80-100 ml/g water
- 120 to 150 g trifle sponges approx weight – See NOTES for gluten free trifle sponge recipe link (if needed) and alternatives
- 3-4 tbsp lemon curd good quality (zesty)
- 3-4 tbsp Limoncello liqueur or apple juice for a non-alcohol version
- 250 g Mascarpone
- 500 g vanilla custard
- 300 ml/g double or whipping cream
- 2 tbsp pistachio nuts chopped
- 200 g fresh raspberries
- freeze dried raspberry powder (optional)
- Core the strawberries and chop into chunks.
- Place into a medium saucepan with the blueberries and raspberries.
- Add the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the water.
- Bring to a simmer over a moderate heat, stirring frequently.
- Stirring intermittently, allow the mixture to continue slowly simmering until the fruit has softened and broken down.
- If the mixture looks like it is thickening too much, add water a further tablespoon at a time, until the fruit has a consistency of sauce which is not too runny, but is still easily pourable.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Making the trifle
- Cut the trifle sponges as preferred to make thinner (cut cross-ways).
- Spread a thin layer of lemon curd on one side of each of the trifle sponges.
- Using either a large glass/clear serving bowl or smaller individual serving bowls, place a layer of trifle sponges in the base.
- Drizzle Limoncello liqueur (or juice) across the sponges.
- Top with dollops of compote.
- Place further layers of sponge, liqueur/juice and compote in the same way until the bowl is about a third to a half full. Ensure you leave enough room for a thick layer each of custard and cream.
- Using an electric whisk, beat the custard and mascarpone together in a bowl until smooth.
- Spoon and spread the custard mix over the top cake-compote layer, ensuring it is fully covered. (Give a little 'jiggle' to help it settle).
- In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until is has a soft dropping consistency and leaves a trail.
- Spread the cream on top of the custard.
- Top with the remaining raspberries and chopped pistachios (and sprinkle a little freeze dried raspberry powder if using).
- Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist