Lemon Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle

My name is Erin, and I cannot stop with rhubarb.

Pretty much, I adore rhubarb. It is delicious, and also reminds me of my grandma, so its pretty much a rock star fruit. Over the weekend, I came through on my plans to make rhubarb syrup, and cannot wait to see how that pairs with some gin this summer. After that was done, though, I was left with a lot of stewed rhubarb goodness, and it really seemed like a shame to waste it! I cooked it down a little more and put it through my food mill, and the result was a glorious pink puree, similar in texture to applesauce.

Evan was on duty on Memorial Day, and I was thinking about what to bring the fire station. I settled on strawberry shortcake, and strawberries are amazing with rhubarb, so I was pretty sure that would be a good use of the sauce. I was also strangely obsessing over lemon cake- I have no idea what my issue was. In any case, I was kind of determined that lemon cake, strawberries, whipped cream, and rhubarb sauce would come together in one glorious dessert. No plan, just fearless determination.

Unfortunately, disaster struck when I tried to release my lemon cake from the pan. I greased the pan, and also lined it with paper, but I’m willing to bet that I didn’t let it cool long enough. So…life happened.

My cake fail kind of threw a wrench in my abstract plan for a gorgeously layered cake, but also meant that I no longer had to strategize. I’ve destroyed many a cake in my day, and I always find resulting success in trifles. So- lemon rhubarb trifle. Delish!


Lemon Cake:

1 ½ cups sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cups milk

½ cup greek yogurt

2 eggs

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Add the butter and beat at medium speed until light and creamy; add the vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and powder in a medium bowl, and the eggs, milk and yogurt in a separate bowl. When the butter and sugar mixture is creamed, add one third of the wet and one third of the dry ingredients; mix until incorporated and repeat twice, until all of the ingredients have been added.

Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the surface. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cakes are dry and springy to the touch, and a knife in the center comes out clean. Cool on racks for about ten minutes, and invert and cool completely.


Rhubarb Sauce

6 stalks rhubarb, diced

One clamshell of strawberries, sliced

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about twenty minutes, or until the fruit is very soft. You can either push through a food mill, which is easy but not really a common piece of equipment, or you can push through a strainer. Then try to restrain yourself so you don’t eat it all by the spoonful


Lemon Cream

Juice of one lemon

Juice of one lime

2 Tbsp sugar

Half pint whipping cream

2 tbsp powdered sugar

4 oz cream cheese

Combine the juices and sugar in a saucepan heated to medium, and reduce by half; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip the cream to stiff peaks; transfer to a separate bowl. In the mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese and the lemon syrup until fluffy. Gently fold in the whipped cream.


Trifle assembly:

Cut the completely cooled lemon cake into one-inch cubes. Layer cake chunks, then a cup of diced strawberries, then half of the cream, then half of the sauce. Repeat, and decorate with a fanned out strawberry.