If you love lemons, cake, vodka and cream, this dessert has to grace your table! The crumb of the cake that makes up the body of the trifle is lemon-y--but made softer by vanilla bean--and very moist and voluptuous. A vodka-infused lemon syrup is drizzled over each cake layer, followed by big dollops of sweet, whipped cream. It is O H so good and pretty enough to serve for a special occasion.
*I made six 2-cup trifles and had a small amount of cake still leftover, so you should be able to get away with making eight. Or simply build the trifle as a whole, using a large glass dish. Too, I bake the cake in a bundt pan, for less mess with breaking it into pieces.
You will need 5-6 good-sized, ripe lemons for this recipe.
Notes: Butter is unsalted.
LEMON DROP TRIFLE
Ingredients: For cake: 3 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 2/3 cups sugar 2 tbsp. lemon zest, 1 vanilla bean, 1 1/2 sticks butter at room temperature, 3 eggs at room temperature, 2/3 cup lemon juice, 2/3 cup buttermilk. For the syrup: 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. butter, 1/3 cup vodka. For the whipped cream: 16 oz. heavy whipping cream, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 tbsp. powdered sugar.
1. Preheat oven to 350*. Spritz a Bundt pan well with cooking spray.
2. Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in a bowl, set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 tbsp. of lemon zest and sugar on low speed for 1 minute. Split vanilla bean lengthwise with the tip of a sharp knife, then scrape the seeds into the sugar. Beat on low speed to distribute into the sugar. Add butter and beat until pale.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in lemon juice (it will look curdled). Stir in flour mixture followed by buttermilk. Spoon batter into pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove to cool.
4. Make syrup: Bring lemon juice, sugar and butter to a light boil, cook for 5 minutes or until reduced by about half, swirling pan occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vodka. Set aside to cool. (If children are eating this dessert and you are worried about the alcohol, simply cook it along with the lemon juice and sugar.)
5. Make whipped cream: Mix cold whipping cream and vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium-high until stiff peaks form. On low, beat in powdered sugar.
6. Build trifle/s: Remove the cake from the pan into a large bowl, breaking it up into chunky pieces as you go. In each trifle glass, (or in the bottom of a large glass bowl if you are making a single, large trifle) place a layer of cake pieces to about 1/3 of the glass. Drizzle over 2 tbsp. of syrup for individual trifles or half of the syrup over for a large one. Dollop over whipped cream, followed by another layer of cake and syrup. Add more whipped cream and top with some cake crumbs and left over lemon zest. Refrigerate until serving.
Tip: Don't worry too much about the amounts in the layers, you can do multiple small layers or a few thicker ones. I generally build a trifle in this order: cake, syrup, cream, cake syrup, cream, garnish. But with that said, you might need smaller trifle portions for kids, or prefer to do many multiple layers in a large one. It all works- it will all be delicious.