Trifling Matters

Shattered beyond repair, my once grand glass trifle dish lay in ruin. Wordlessly closing the cardboard shipping box that had become its tomb, I placed it by the door, ready for the next trip to the dumpster. No tears were shed, no outpouring of emotion could be summoned. It was a devastating loss, without a doubt, but I was already numb from uncovering the very same scene in each of the over 40 packages I shipped to save moving expenses. Of all the pieces I would mourn, the trifle was at the bottom of that list. Who really needed a vessel that would feed a crowd in the middle of a pandemic, after all?

Glorious layered affairs that are the stuff of royalty, grand parties, and celebratory gatherings throughout the centuries, there is no such thing as a small trifle. It transforms into a parfait or a verrine when scaled down; no less delicious, but a far cry from its original grandeur. Even the most humble of ingredients can become sublime in such a magnificent presentation.

This one stacks as a summery strawberry shortcake fit for a crowd. Soft cubes of freshly baked vanilla cake soak in jam like sweet sponges, layered with fresh berries, buttery custard, and clouds of whipped coconut cream. Though simple in concept, it makes a big impression as one generous, family-style indulgence.

Time heals all wounds. No, it’s not possible to put those irreparably fractured shards back together, but there is hope for a new start. A new life, a new community, and a new trifle dish; some how, they all seem linked in my mind. It’s just a trifle, but being able to share it freely with a full home of new friends feels incredibly significant.

Yield: Makes 10 - 12 Servings

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Stacked up like a family-style strawberry shortcake, this trifle starts with vanilla cake soak in jam, layered with fresh berries, buttery custard, and topped by clouds of whipped coconut cream.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes


Vanilla Custard:

  • 2 1/2 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Vegan Butter
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Simple Vanilla Cake:

  • 1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

To Assemble:

  • 1 (13.5 Ounce) Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk, Chilled
  • 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Other Orange Liqueur
  • 1 1/2 Cups Strawberry Jam
  • 1 Pint Fresh Strawberries, Hulled and Halved


  1. Begin by making the custard. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, vigorously whisk together the non-dairy milk, tapioca starch, and sugar. Beat until completely smooth, with no lumps of starch remaining. Bring to a gentle simmer, taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with your whisk frequently to prevent it from sticking.
  2. Add in the butter, vanilla, turmeric, and salt. Whisk until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is smooth, sunny yellow, and considerably thickened. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Let the custard chill in the fridge for at least 2 - 3 hours, until cool all the way through. If it seems a bit lumpy at this point, you can toss it in your blender or food processor and puree until perfectly silky smooth.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the cake by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and lightly greasing a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the non-dairy milk, vinegar, oil, and vanilla to combine. Add the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry, folding the two together with a wide spatula. Stir until incorporated, but do not over-mix; a few lumps are fine.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smoothing out the top with your spatula. Bake in the center of your oven for 20 - 24 minutes, until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into 1-inch cubes.
  7. To assemble the trifle, carefully open the chilled can of coconut milk, being sure not to shake it, and scoop off the top layer of thick coconut cream. Discard or save the watery liquid left behind for another recipe. Place the coconut cream in the bowl of your stand mixer and install the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed for about 3 minutes before slowly beginning to sprinkle in the sugar, just a little bit at a time. Continue beating the mixture for up to 10 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  8. Pull out a 2-quart glass trifle dish and place about half of cake cubes at the bottom. Try to fit them together snugly in an even layer. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the liqueur on top, followed by half of the jam. Spread it out evenly and top with half of the strawberries.
  9. Spoon half of the custard on top, followed by half of the whipped coconut cream. Repeat this order once more, completely filling the trifle dish and using up all of the components. Serve right away, or cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Serve thoroughly chilled.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 261mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 1gSugar: 46gProtein: 4g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

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