Trifle is a terrific dessert to serve to a crowd during the holiday season. I had always wanted to make it, but most recipes call for purchased ladyfingers or sponge cake, which are off-limits in our house because they contain additives and preservatives. Then I found this recipe for Cranberry Trifle in one of my older cookbooks, The Canadian Living Entertaining Cookbook. The sponge cake is made from scratch, and is then combined with a delicious honey orange cranberry sauce, luscious custard and loads of whipped cream. Add added bonus: The cake and sauce can be made a month in advance and the trifle can be assembled two days before serving.

Cranberry Trifle

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, be sure to use pure vanilla extract (not artificial).


Sponge Cake:

4 eggs, separated

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp grated lemon rind

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¾ cup cake-and-pastry flour

¼ cup water

Honey Orange Cranberry Sauce:

3 apples, peeled and finely chopped

Juice of 2 oranges

1 stick cinnamon

3 cups cranberries

Grated rind of 1 orange

2/3 cup honey

2 tbsp orange liqueur


2 cups milk

2 cups light cream (half-and-half)

8 egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

2 tbsp vanilla


Juice of 1 orange

2 tbsp orange liqueur

2 tbsp dry sherry

2 cups whipping cream

2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds


Sponge Cake:

In mixing bowl, beat egg yolks for about 5 minutes or until pale yellow. Gradually add sugar, beating for 5 minutes or until mixture has doubled in bulk and falls in ribbons when beaters are lifted from bowl. Stir in lemon rind and vanilla. Alternately add flour and water to yolk mixture, mixing well after each addition.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; fold ½ cup into yolk mixture. Fold in remaining whites. Line 9-inch square baking pan with waxed paper and grease the paper. Pour in batter and bake in 325-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Cake can be wrapped and frozen for up to 4 weeks.

Honey Orange Cranberry Sauce:

In saucepan, combine apples, orange juice and cinnamon; bring to boil and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing apples with fork. Stir in cranberries, orange rind and honey; return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until cranberries pop and sauce thickens. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Remove cinnamon and stir in liqueur; chill. Sauce can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 weeks.


In saucepan, bring milk and cream just to boil; remove from heat and set aside. In mixing bowl, beat egg yolks for 3 minutes or until thickened. Gradually add sugar and cornstarch, beating until thickened and mixture falls in ribbons when beaters are lifted from bowl. Whisking constantly, pour in warm cream mixture in steady stream. Return to saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes or just until mixture comes to boil and has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set pan in cold water to cook quickly. Cover surface with waxed paper; chill. Custard can be refrigerated or up to 2 days.


Break cake into small pieces and place in large glass serving bowl. Combine orange juice, liqueur and sherry; sprinkle over cake. Spread one-third of the cranberry sauce over cake. In separate bowl, whip cream; fold half into custard. Spread half of the custard mixture over cranberry mixture. Repeat cranberry and custard layers once more. Spread remaining whipped cream over top. Dollop with remaining cranberry sauce; sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate until serving time or for up to 2 days. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

From The Canadian Living Entertaining Cookbook