Mixed-Fruit Trifle

Star chef Grant Achatz’s multilayered, monumental dessert-in-a-glass illustrates what a sweetly old-fashioned trifle can look like in expert hands. Slideshow: More Layer Cake Recipes 

Mixed-Fruit Trifle
Photo: © Abby Hocking
Active Time:
2 hrs 50 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs



  • 8 large eggs

  • 1 cup granulated sugar 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

  • Yuzu syrup

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 

  • 2 tablespoons yuzu juice (see Note) 

Lemon Curd

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin 

  • 4 large egg yolks 

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest 

  • Pinch of kosher salt 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened 

Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk 

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped 

  • 2 large eggs 

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch 

  • Pinch of kosher salt 

Macerated berries 

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 1 cup raspberries 

  • 2 tablespoons yuzu juice 

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 

Whipped cream and Assembly

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream 

  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar 

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

  • 4 kiwi, peeled and sliced

  • 1 pint blackberries, halved 

  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced 


  1. Make the cake layers Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the eggs with the granulated sugar at high speed until thickened, about 10 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and beat until more than doubled in bulk, about 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour until nearly smooth. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with a large dollop of the batter, then fold this mixture into the remaining batter until no streaks remain.

  2. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Unmold the cakes, peel off the parchment and let cool completely. Using a large serrated knife, cut both cakes in half horizontally to make 4 layers.

  3. Meanwhile, make the yuzu syrup In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, orange juice and yuzu juice with 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool completely.

  4. Make the lemon curd In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water until softened. In a medium saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the whole eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice and both zests. Cook over moderate heat, whisking occasionally, until simmering, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin and salt until incorporated. Whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool completely. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

  5. Make the pastry cream In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean and seeds just to a simmer over moderate heat; discard the vanilla bean. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the eggs with the granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt at high speed until very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the hot milk. Scrape this mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderately high heat, whisking, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl and let cool completely. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate, whisking occasionally, until chilled, about 1 hour.

  6. Macerate the berries In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the yuzu juice and granulated sugar and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.

  7. Make the whipped cream In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until stiff; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

  8. Assemble the trifle Arrange half of the kiwi slices and blackberry halves decoratively around the edge of a trifle bowl. Fit 1 cake layer in the bottom of the bowl and brush generously with some of the yuzu syrup. Spread half of the lemon curd on the cake and top with half of the macerated berries. Set another cake layer on top and brush generously with more of the yuzu syrup. Arrange some of the strawberry slices decoratively around the edge of the bowl. Spread half of the pastry cream on the cake, then top with more strawberry slices and half of the whipped cream. Repeat the layering to finish the trifle. Serve.

Make Ahead

The yuzu syrup, lemon curd and pastry cream can be refrigerated separately overnight. The cooled cake layers can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight. Beat the lemon curd and pastry cream until smooth before using.


If fresh yuzu isn’t available, look for bottled yuzu juice at Japanese markets.

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