Monday, May 31, 2010

St. Honore Trifle

This week is the Heavenly Baker's free cake week, and I chose the decadent and wonderful St Honore Trifle. The HCB made this trifle in early May, and everyone said such wonderful things about how delicious it was that I decided this would be not only be my free cake choice, but also my birthday cake.

me, with the freaking huge trifle of deliciousness

May 23, 2010,
Name of Cake: A Freaking Huge Trifle
Occasion: HCB, and my birthday/housewarming party
Constituents: genoise cake, chiboust pastry cream, fresh strawberries, whipped cream, booze

The crowning glory of this trifle is the beautiful nest of spun sugar that is placed on top. I, however, chose to skip the spun sugar as I had something else with which to top my trifle:

birthday kitty

This came all the way from Bath, via Melinda. I received it the day I was baking the trifle, the day before the party. How timely and perfect!! Thank you Melinda!! You are a most thoughtful and sweet internet friend, and I appreciate you :)

This trifle consists of several components, and upon first (and second and third) reads the recipe seems like it will be laborious and time consuming. However, I found that not to be the case.

On Thursday, I cleared away a corner of countertop, found my saucepan, and moved some boxes in order to get to my liquor stash. Not because I needed a drink, which I did, but because I wanted to make the Grand Marnier syrup for the cake. This is when I discovered I had about 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier left, but I substituted with Triple Sec which seemed to turn out all right. The syrup is really easy: sugar and water are brought to a boil and then immediately removed from the heat, covered and cooled. Once cool the liqueur is added, and you're finished. No problem.

st honore birthday trifle

Saturday I got to making the rest of the components. By this time, more boxes in the kitchen had been cleared away, the baking box had been found, and the counters were pretty clear. It was also my only major task for Saturday, and what a fun Saturday it turned out to be. I spent the whole day in the kitchen making chiboust pastry cream (the best stuff on earth!), my first well-risen genoise (hooray!), and a pound of beurre noisette.

st honore birthday trifle

Then, as if all that wasn't enough, I got to assemble all these yummy components into one freakin huge trifle. After scraping off the top and bottom crusts of the genoise layers, they are split in half and cut to fit into the trifle bowl. Each layer is spread with a mixture of orange marmalade and, in my case, Triple Sec. A layer is placed marmalade side down in the trifle bowl, syrup is applied to the top side, pastry cream is spread over the top and cut strawberries are sprinkled over the cream. Lather, rinse, and repeat until all the components are used. I had to sort of smush down all the layers to have enough room for the top layer of cake and pastry cream. At this point the trifle is covered in plastic wrap and sent to the refrigerator for an overnight rest.

The next day, just as people were starting to arrive, I whipped up the cream for the topping and clumsily piped it on with the biggest tube I had. A few more strawberries on top, the little kitty with a candle, and ta-da! Trifle!

st honore birthday trifle

This trifle was excellent. It was creamy and soft. It was bright and fruity. It was mellow with vanilla and punchy with booze. It was so, so good. Cookie fell in love with it and immediately got up for a second serving. I had more before bed that night. It was delicious.

It was still pretty good the next day, but after 48 hours this trifle just becomes kind of mushy and not so great. But really, why would it last more than 48 hours anyway?

Many people talked about the St Honore trifle being such a production to make that they don't really see themselves making it again. Sure, I spent a whole day putting it together but it was great fun and to my mind not laborious like I feared. I can definitely see myself making it again, as long as I have lots of people to feed it to!


  1. YUM...I want one! I'm impressed that you have a trifle dish, I'd have to substitute a souffle dish or something. I hope you're liking your new kitchen! Moving is such a pain... I just moved too, and I hope I don't have to do it again in a good long while. Happy belated birthday!

  2. Your trifle turned out beautiful! That chiboust pastry cream is amazing stuff. Birthday wishes for a happy and healthy year.

  3. I am thrilled to see your kitty candle holder being used already! When I saw it in the antique store in Bath, I knew it had to be yours!
    I am so glad you like it.
    Your trifle is freakin' gorgeous! The genoise looks fantastic...check out that perfect flat well risen cake layer(s!
    Guess the new kitchen oven is good then!
    Hope you had a wonderful birthday.
    Cheers and love to you! x

  4. Amanda, I found the trifle dish at Sur la Table for under $20--good deal for a dish I may or may not use that much. (who knows!) I am loving the new kitchen, except I discovered yesterday my broiler doesn't work :(. Moving is a pain! I hope you are liking your new kitchen too! Thank you for the birthday wishes!

    Vicki, thank you! Yes, the chiboust pastry cream is my new best friend. How can I sneak it into everything?

    Melinda, I have a thank you email languishing in my drafts folder as I wanted to send you some photos too, and somehow that has made the whole thing impossible to send out. But--thank you for your lovely birthday surprises!! The kitty candle holder was perfect and everyone loved it, especially me.

    I promptly shoved my latest knitting project in my new anglophile bag. It is the perfect size, and I look forward to shoving even bigger and more elaborate knitting projects into it!

    Isn't that a nice looking genoise (ignoring the sides)? I was so proud. I think I actually clapped when I pulled them out of the oven.

    Cheers and love to you, too!

  5. ב''ה

    Happy Birthday! Glad you tried out the trifle. Looks lovely. The chiboust cream is wonderful isn't it?

  6. Congrats and kudos, your trifle looks beautiful, especially sporting it's kittie candle holder. I know it was delicious.

  7. Happy Birthday! Glad to 'meet' you! :D Your trifle looks amazing! Makes me want to bake it again..

  8. Beautiful! I am so glad to see yummy things coming out of your new kitchen!

    Happy birthday, my friend!


  9. Happy Birthday! and oh wow, this brought me memories of me spinning sugar all over the place! Glad you like it... it will be better as the days go and the liquor soaks the cake more...

    you will even get a bit tipsy!

  10. Mendy, thank you! I'm glad I made the trifle, too, but next time I'm going to spin that sugar! I'm pretty sure I'll be making the chiboust cream again soon, for something, somehow ;)

    BSA, thank you! Btw, you are a very kind and loving cat owner--if I found my cat on the counter screwing up my mise I don't think I'd be taking photos!

    faithy, yes, I think one of these days we HCB should reveal ourselves to each other, just for fun!

    raiuchka,thank you darling! i wish you coulda been here to help me eat it!
    big hugs and kisses, zhenya

    Monica, yes, I thought of you bravely spinning sugar when I was putting the trifle together! My cakes were nice and moist when we ate it, and at 48 hours were super moist and then at 36+ hours mush. Gotta love a boozy cake!

  11. Happy Birthday Jennifer! Your trifle looks absolutely amazing and I can just imagine how it must of tasted - I love trifle.

    Hope you are enjoying your new digs.

  12. Oriana, thank you! If you are a trifle lover you would definitely love this one.


    Glad you had a fun birthday, Jen. I miss you a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Happy Birthday Jen (albeit a little late).

    Your genoise are amazing! So impressive. The trifle is stupendous, a very fitting resting spot for a little kitty.

    Glad your are moved in and back in the kitchen.

  15. Joelf, I miss you too cornhole! I would happily make trifle for you when you get back.

    Nicola, thank you! I am really proud of the genoise, as I have been making terrible genoise for like 7 years!