One of my favorite bridal shower gifts was an elegant glass trifle dish with two lemon-yellow tea towels and a recipe inside. The recipe came from a family friend who had recently died, and who was one of America’s all-time great homemakers – outstanding cook, professional seamstress, mother of three great boys who all went to military academies, and friend to all who met her. “She who dies with the most fabric wins,” read the rather appropriate bumper sticker at the end of the photo montage at her memorial. Dale left too soon but she certainly won.
The recipe in the dish is for Lemon Ice Cream Trifle, which is simply two layers of cubed poundcake, softened vanilla ice cream, and homemade lemon curd. I don’t like to mess with perfection, but I noted the opportunity for a seasonal modification: why not make a pumpkin ice cream trifle with pumpkin bread, vanilla ice cream, and pumpkin butter?
One small complication is that I avoid refined sugar and grains, so most of my dessert recipes are a bit different from the standard sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, and butter concoctions that most Americans eat. The vanilla, eggs, and sometimes butter remain, but I’d rather avoid the systemic inflammation and sugar headache that comes from the sugar and flour. I found a fantastic pumpkin bread recipe here, and doubled a vanilla coconut ice cream recipe. I used Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter in place of the lemon curd, which ended up being my least favorite part of the dessert.
The creation was a tad troubled from the start. The recipe recommends baking the bread for 40-45 minutes, at which time my bread was still very much a bubbly liquid. I gave it another 20 minutes in the oven and still ended up with a moist cake, rather than a bread, but I found the bread pudding-like consistency after an hour or so to be rather delicious so I decided to go with it.
The ice cream was another story. I have never had luck with cooked ice cream recipes, probably due to lack of patience. My “batter” refused to freeze in the Kitchenaid attachment, so I dropped the whole thing in the freezer for the night. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near thawed after sitting out for several hours the next day, and I never got it to behave properly. If softened a but, I tried to mix it, and it seemed usable. The flavor was good, especially since I happened to have Madagascar vanilla beans on hand and scraped those into the mix.
I layered my questionable but tasty components twice – cubed pumpkin bread cake, unwilling vanilla coconut ice cream, and pumpkin butter- and hoped for the best.
On Thanksgiving morning, I moved the trifle to the fridge to soften, and later whipped some fresh cream (with a splash of pumpkin pie liqueur) for the topping, dispensed in fluffy stars via my trusty dessert decorator. A dust with cinnamon finished the appearance. Unfortunately, the pumpkin break custard cake was still rock-solid and the ice cream had ice crystals in it, so while the flavor was good, the texture was way off, and I think the pumpkin butter was too sweet. Nobody even tried it – most went for the fluorescent lemon meringue pie and shortbread/chocolate pudding dessert instead – but the leftovers were tasty.
Verdict: I think the idea still has potential, but in future, will modify again like this:
- Try layering with custard instead of ice cream. Autumn/winter desserts don’t need to be frozen. Mark has a good custard recipe, but use 3T (or less) maple syrup for the sweetener and optionally substitute coconut milk for the almond milk. Also bake it in a single glass bowl or soufflé dish, in a water bath as described.
- Bake the bread for an hour before slicing into 1″ cubes.
- Omit the pumpkin butter. Unnecessary and too sweet. A cinnamon sprinkle will work.
Therefore the layering goes like this: cubes of pumpkin bread, custard, cinnamon, repeat. Top with fresh whipped cream if desired. Chill for several hours, preferably overnight, and try not to eat it all at once.
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