May 7, 2010

Non-traditional English Trifle

We had some friends over for dinner last weekend. For dessert I made a non-traditional English trifle.  Instead  of lady-fingers, I used home-made lemon yogurt cake - which was very light and it didn't have butter for a change :)  I layered cake and mango-yogurt sauce and topped it with chopped mango and black berry sauce.

Someone in my house thought that the pattern I made on the dessert looked like Chinese armor and named it a 'Ming Mango Cake'. I won't mention the name of that person - who couldn't stop laughing for at least half an hour.

The yogurt cake had cardamom and saffron in it. I had some Swedish cardamom rolls couple of weeks back which was made by a student in my class. The cardamom flavor in the roll was enticing as well as surprising. In many Indian desserts cardamon is used as a flavoring agent, but I had never had cardamom in a baked good before. Since the non-traditional English trifle is English with Indian flavor, I used cardamom and saffron instead of vanilla. Actually, I used saffron because I have always liked the 'kesar pista'  flavored Indian ice cream. Kesar is the Indian name of saffron and pista is pistachio - which I have used in the mango-yogurt sauce.

The mango sauce is inspired by lassi - mango-yogurt based Indian drink. The black berry sauce added one more level of complex tanginess to the dessert along with piquant taste from mango-yogurt and sharpness from the lemon-yogurt cake.

Non-traditional English Trifle Recipe

Lemon-yogurt cake
11/2 cup flour
11/2  tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1  tsp cardamom powder
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
Few saffron strands
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degree.

Stir all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl combine yogurt, sugar, eggs and mix them well. Add oil to the wet mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients and mix them well. Add lemon zest and cardamom to the batter. Soak a few saffron strands in a little bit of warm water and add it to the batter. The warm water helps to bring out the flavor and color in saffron. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. I used a disposable 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 1/2 inch loaf pan. Pour the batter in the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or till a fork comes out clean of the center of the cake. After the cake is done, let it completely cool on a cooling rack.

Mango-Yogurt sauce
1 quart whole milk yogurt (try to use Greek yogurt which is much thicker)
1 30 oz canned mango pulp
1/2 cup chopped pistachio

If you are not using Greek yogurt then put the yogurt on a cheese cloth and squeeze out the water from the yogurt. Then add mango pulp and chopped pistachio to the yogurt. I added the entire can of mango pulp to the thick yogurt. Since the pulp is sweet it doesn't need any extra sugar. But if you don't like the strong mango flavor, you can go easy on mango pulp.

Blackberry sauce
12 oz black berry
1/2 cup simple syrup - which is made of 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar

Simple syrup - add sugar and water in a pan and bring it to a boil.

Let the sugar cool down a little and then blend the simple syrup and black berry together. Pass the sauce through a sieve to get rid of the seed.

Layering of the Trifle
1 lemon yogurt cake
Mango yogurt sauce
Blackberry sauce
1/2 cup freshly chopped mango

I used a pyrex 8-inch  baking dish to layer the trifle. Layer the bottom of the dish with slices of lemon cake, then add half of the mango-yogurt sauce and half of the freshly chopped mango. Add another layer of cake followed by rest of the mango-yogurt sauce. Then make the 'ming' pattern using the blackberry sauce :) Take a look at the picture - the black lines are the black berry sauce.  Then garnish the square made out of blackberry sauce with chopped mango. Let it chill in the fridge at least for a day. The longer you keep it, the better it tastes.

The two sauces are very versatile. You can make instant dessert if you have some left over sauce. Top any sweet cookie or wafer with a dollop of mango-yogurt sauce and a little blackberry sauce. It looks sensational and even tastes amazing.

I made this mini dessert by topping Nilla vanilla wafer with both of these sauces.


  1. What fascinating flavor combinations! Swap the mango for peach and you would have chosen my three favorite fruits. It never would have occured to me to pair lemon with cardamom (my favorite spice!) in a dessert. I will try this yogurt cake recipe soon!

  2. Hey, thanks for your comments. Let me know how you like the lemon cake.