A trifle bowl's sides are perpendicular to its base.

A Trifle Advantageous

A trifle bowl's sides are perpendicular to its base.

โ€œTrifleโ€ is a traditional English dessert consisting of layered, fruit-soaked sponge cake, custard, and fruit.

In our recipe, the cake is angel food, sliced in half horizontally. The custard is instant pistachio pudding. And the fruit is strawberries soaked in their own juices.

Layering goes this way: cake, then fruit with juice, then custard, and whipped cream. Top the whole thing off with a generous layer of whipped topping.

My daughter specifically requested this cake when she visited last week. I sometimes made it for her birthday when she was growing up, so she must have been feeling nostalgic.

I hadnโ€™t made this particular trifle in many years. It’s an easy recipe, especially if you choose to buy an angel food cake, rather than baking one.

(Here’s another easy angel food cake dessert that’s light and refreshing.)

I found my trifle bowl and compared it to the size of the big angel food cake I brought home from the grocery store.

The bowl looked so small!

I wondered if I really needed to use the trifle bowl. Maybe a glass salad bowl would work as well. Its sides were not straight like the trifle bowl. Would that make a big difference?

I decided to go with the bowl rather than the traditional dish

Dessert layered in a slope-sided serving bowl isn't as tasty as one made in a real trifle bowl.

Turns out that the size and shape of the bowl are not accidental. It does make a difference in the taste, look, and texture of the trifle.ย 

The diameter of the trifle bowl is slightly smaller than a sloped serving bowl because the cake is supposed to be squashed into it. This makes the cake (traditionally a sponge cake) denser as it soaks up the fruit juices.

The denser, juice-soaked cake avoids being too mushy when served.

Additionally, in the straight-sided bowl, the layers of cake, fruit-in-its-juice, and custard, stay separated but the flavors of the layers meld.

Making the trifle early in the day and letting it sit in the refrigerator several hours or overnight brings out the best flavors. The tight fit of the bowl keeps the layers from sliding like they would in a slope-sided serving bowl.

Take a lesson from me and get a traditional trifle bowl for your trifle recipes. Your dessert will taste much better.

Strawberry Pistachio Trifle
Prep Time
1 hr
Resting Time
5 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs

Fruit in its own juice, sponge cake, and sweet pistachio pudding makes a light but impressive dessert.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: English
Keyword: trifle
Servings: 8
Author: A. JoAnn
  • 2 3.4 oz packages Pistachio flavored instant pudding or substitute your preferred flavor
  • 2 c. milk
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries Reserve a few strawberries for garnish.
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 angel food cake
  • 1 16 oz. container Cool Whip or make homemade whipped cream
  1. Slice fresh strawberries into a medium size mixing bowl. Add the sugar and allow the mixture to sit for several hours. The strawberries and sugar will create strawberry juice.

  2. Make the instant pudding according to package instructions. Refrigerate.

  3. Prepare the whipped cream, or defrost the Cool Whip. Refrigerate.

  4. Slice the angel food cake in half horizontally. Or, you can cut the cake into 2 in. cubes if you prefer.

  5. 2 hours (or more) before serving, assemble the trifle.

  1. Place half of angel food cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl. Cover with half of the strawberries and juice.

  2. Layer half of the pudding over the strawberries.

  3. Layer one third of the Cool Whip over the pudding.

  4. Repeat the layers. Then, cover the top of the trifle with the Cool Whip, sealing the trifle.

  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

  6. Place some reserved strawberries on top before serving.

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