Trifle was the holiday dessert centrepiece of my childhood and teenage years. The trifle, made with Sarah Lee poundcake, whipped cream and a soupçon of retro-fabulous Grand Marnier, was portioned into our special occasion china, served alongside a tray of classic Canadian Christmas desserts including nainamo bars and butter tarts. As time passes, tastes certainly evolve, too.
This particular recipe was inspired by my sister’s holiday gift request via text: “gooey gluten-free chocolate chip cookies *cookie emoji*” (she has celiac disease). Luckily, I have a recipe for that!
With her gift in the bag, I had my eye on more allergy-friendly baked goods that deliver a touch more sparkle than the everyday chocolate chip cookie. It’s lovely to play around with tradition to make it remarkably new and improved.
Ginger cake or gingerbread is traditionally a “damp” cake, fudgy in texture and succouring, something I know that many of you may need right now. A cinnamonic cream freshened up with a generous glug of apple cider adds a couple more layers of decadent tang.
The recipe makes two cakes, one more than you require for the trifles. The other cake can be used to make easy petit fours using the cake pops method. The petit fours/cake pops are gluten free and vegan, so everyone can enjoy them this season. (Chocolate Gingerbread Petit Fours photo below and recipe here.)
Even if you don’t repurpose the second cake into the dainty petit fours, it’s a delectable treacly slice to snack on or turn into breakfast with a pillowy dollop of thick yogurt.
The ginger cake recipe is smacked with the spicy warmth of 1/4 cup freshly grated ginger, adding both zing and moisture. It tastes remarkably similar to the steamed pudding-like cousin of a classic ginger cookie sparkling with its sugarcoated earthquake crust. Brown rice flour and oat flour offer another dimension of sweetness, texture and flavour.
As for the cream, it’s a pastry cream (though not done the “correct” way). I came upon this method for making dairy-free liquids, like the apple cider, thick and creamy when making a cake last month. Emulsified with a touch of cream, butter and cornstarch and chilled, this is a newfangled way to make a cheater’s pudding. Imagine the apple cinnamon cream inside an apple cider donut hole? Or piped into a homemade eclair? To die for.
We dress in layers this time of year to keep warm and I believe a sturdy, suaveolent ginger cake trifle bound by a tricked out apple cider cream can do the same.
Ginger Cake Trifle with Apple Cinnamon Cream recipe below.
Chocolate Gingerbread Petit Fours recipe here.
To make this entire trifle gluten free, dairy free, egg free and vegan, substitute the cream and butter in the apple cinnamon cream with thick canned coconut milk and vegan butter or coconut oil. It's as easy as that. The cake is naturally gluten free and vegan, so there's nothing to change there.
A super-spicy, damp ginger cake made with loads of fresh ginger is layered with a bold apple cider cinnamon pastry cream. The cake is gluten free and made with whole grain brown rice and oat flour, sweetened with apple cider (or apple juice) and a bit of brown sugar. To up the ante on the presentation, garnish with a dollop of whipped cream or pomegranate arils.
- 2 cups apple cider
- ½ cup 35% heavy cream
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup gluten-free cornstarch
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 2 cups oat flour
- ⅔ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp gluten-free cornstarch
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 2 cups apple cider or apple juice
- ½ cup neutral oil such as avocado, canola or grapeseed
- ¼ cup finely grated fresh ginger (no substitutions)
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- For Apple Cinnamon Pastry Cream: In a medium saucepan, whisking constantly, bring all cream ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, continue to cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or until solid (overnight best).
- For the Ginger Cake: Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease 2, 8- to 9-inch round cake pans and line with a round of parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk all wet ingredients until combined. Add wet mixture to dry and whisk until fully incorporated. Divide evenly between prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in cake pans, run a knife around outside and carefully turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks. Cool completely.
- For Assembly: Transfer set cream to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until lump free and silky-smooth, about 2 minutes. Chill until ready to assemble.
- Cut 8 rounds from 1 cake to fit in the tops of your jar; crumble scraps of cake from cut outs (you can just crumble the whole thing if you prefer). Layer cream, crumbled cake, cream, crumbled cake, cream and final cake top (cut outs). Seal jars and refrigerate up to 2 days.
- Store second cake airtight at room temperature, up to 5 days. It will stay damp and delicious all week long. A slice is best enjoyed with a cup of tea or a dollop of yogurt for breakfast.