Red, White & Blue Mason Jar Trifle
I'm back in Colorado, all settled in after my long drive from Spokane. For my trouble, Colorado greeted me with a blizzard and a foot-and-a-half of snow. I got to spend last Thursday morning shoveling the driveway, dressed in snow boots and a hat and gloves, while my dear home-state laughed at me and covered all my shoveling progress with nine more hours of snow. Puny human, your efforts are fruitless. But I enjoy watching you struggle. And by the way, watch out for that ice patch--yup, that one. Let me drop some snow chunks on you from the trees while you slide around, I believe that'll help you tremendously. Gotta love summer in Colorado, right? (The answer to that is no. Snow lingering past May 22nd is, in my humble opinion, an abomination).
There's nothing like not one but TWO freak mid-to-late May snowstorms to get you in the mood for Memorial Day. I guess Colorado was just feeling rebellious, wearing white before Memorial Day and all (hah, cheesy, I know). Whatever the case, all the time spent stuck inside avoiding the snow got me dreaming, brainstorming, cooking, and baking up new recipes, the first of which is this Red, White & Blue Mason Jar Trifle for Memorial Day.
This recipe came about because of an actual dream I had one night last week. I dreamt that I was yelling--like, absolutely berating--some poor individual because they dared to serve cake before a dinner of burgers (I know, I dream weird things). Dream-Heather was extremely embarrassed of the fuss dream-me was raising, but I was certain that my cause was both necessary and noble (by the way, let's all wish real-Heather good luck and good vibes! She started her real, adult-person job in Los Angeles this week!).
I woke up and instantly felt a strong sensation of unsettlement. I would never, NEVER berate someone about serving cake before dinner, even if that dinner was burgers (burgers are exceptional, but we all know that cake trumps all other foods except pasta, hallelujah amen and period end-of-story). I would jump wholeheartedly into the idea of having cake before dinner, and then I'd probably have another slice after dinner as well, just to obtain a nice balance. But dream-me was ruffled, and real-me decided that this disturbing dream came about because I was suffering from cake-withdrawal. Clearly it had been too long since I'd last eaten cake, and it was affecting both my mental and physical health in adverse and alarming ways.
I immediately began brainstorming cake recipes, and the approach of Memorial Day and the fact that fresh raspberries and blueberries were on sale in my local grocery store led me to an idea centered around red, white & blue cake. Then, the cake gods struck me with a moment of divine, sugary inspiration, and the vision of a gorgeous red white and blue layered trifle lodged itself in my mind.
Quickly, I came to the realization that I don't have a trifle bowl, but I didn't let this small snafu hold me back from achieving my patriotic trifle dreams. My mason jars called to me from the box they had been stuffed in during last week's move: Alexa. Alexa! We're here, we're clear, we're glass, we're portable, and everybody likes things miniaturized, so why not mini-trifles? Plus, we're mason jars--we're Pinteresty as heck! I conceded that they had an excellent point and unwrapped them from their newspaper blankets, and they said see ya later suckers to their fellow boxed tupperware and serving utensils. For my part, I got extremely psyched about the idea of Mason Jar Trifles, something that I'll probably be returning to again and again now that I've thought of them. The opportunities are endless--chocolate and salted caramel! S'mores! Lemon and lavender! Funfetti?!
And thus, Red, White & Blue Mason Jar Trifle was born!
Let's discuss the white cake recipe real quick. This cake on its own is not super pretty; it's rather flat, rather plain, and rather uninspiring. But here's the deal--it's not supposed to be pretty. It is supposed to be flat and somewhat thin, so that it can easily be cut into cubes to be layered into the trifle. This was intentional. And even though it's not much of a looker, this cake is quite beautiful where it counts: the flavor. It is perfectly moist, dense without being heavy, airy without being dry, all thanks in large part to folding in the whipped egg whites.
There's one other thing I feel compelled to mention in regards to the potential of mason jar trifles, and trifles of all sorts. Sometimes we have bad days in the kitchen, and this happens to all of us. Something doesn't rise quite right, something is drier or stickier than we mean it to be, etc. This especially happens with baking, because the chemistry of baked goods is so tricky and temperamental. So if you plan to make a gorgeous cake, but you pull it out of the oven and your hopes are dashed? Chop that bad boy up and serve it in a beautiful trifle instead (as long as it still tastes okay, of course). Just a thought I had--why waste a perfectly good-tasting cake just because it's not pretty? In my mind, that's a perfect trifle opportunity, but maybe this is because I've had trifle on the mind since that fateful cake-withdrawal dream brought me to mason jar trifle innovation.
Good luck with making your own Red, White & Blue Mason Jar Trifles! If you make them, go ahead and send me a picture or tag me on Instagram @thebasilandcinnamonsagas + #thebasilandcinnamonsagas, or comment here and let me know how it goes or if you have any questions! Also, please let me know if you have any mason jar trifle flavor ideas you'd like to see come to life--I'm seriously excited about all the potential here.
One last thing: I feel I must mention that Memorial Day is often celebrated with a lot of festivity and hoopla that is unrelated to what the holiday is really about--yes, even trifle. In complete seriousness, while it doesn't necessarily have to be a day of mourning, we do need to take time to remember and thank everyone who gave their life to serve and protect our country. Think of them, and think of their families; think of what they all sacrificed, and what that sacrifice is meant to guarantee.
With that being said, I do hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with family and friends and lots of good food, and (hopefully!) some nice summery weather!
Red, White & Blue Mason Jar Trifle
Makes: 6 (1 pint) mason jar trifles
Takes: About 1 hour & 15 minutes (55 for cake, 20 to construct trifles) **allow extra time for cake to cool completely before constructing trifles**
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup butter (softened)
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 5 egg whites
For the trifle:
- 1 9x13" flat white cake
- 12 oz. raspberries
- 12 oz. blueberries
- Strawberry or raspberry jam or preserves
- 8 oz. cool whip or whipped cream
- Red & blue sprinkles (optional)
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer or large bowl.
- Slowly add milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, stirring to incorporate.
- Add salt, baking soda, and baking powder, stirring to incorporate.
- Gradually mix in flour.
- Transfer batter to a large bowl (if it was in a stand mixer).
- Beat egg whites in a stand mixer, increasing the speed, until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into cake batter with a spatula until completely incorporated.
- Grease a 9x13" cake pan.
- Pour batter into cake pan, smoothing with a spatula.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Begin checking at 20 minutes.
- Let cool completely. Note: Cake does not have to look perfect, nor is is supposed to look pretty. It is meant to be flat and rather thin, so that it can be easily cut into cubes.
For the trifle:
- Cut white cake into small, 1 square inch cubes. Wash and dry fruit.
- Put a layer of cake squares in the bottom of a mason jar and press down until there are no open spaces.
- On top of the cake layer, put a layer of raspberries and blueberries, squishing down to slightly crush berries and ensure that there are no open spaces.
- Dollop a spoonful of jam on top of the berry layer, spreading to cover the fruit.
- Dollop a spoonful of whipped cream on top of the jam layer, spreading to cover.
- Optional: sprinkle some red and blue sprinkles over the whipped cream.
- Begin the layering process a second time, starting with cake, then berries, then jam, then whipped cream, then sprinkles, pressing down after each layer to ensure that there aren't open spaces. Two layers of each ingredient should fill the pint-sized mason jar.
- Repeat chapters 2-7 with the other mason jars.
- Enjoy immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to two days.
White cake recipe adapted from Southern Living's Mrs. Billet's White Cake recipe.