Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle (Gluten-Free)

Trifle is a thing of beauty.  It is boozy cake, layered like a parfait with fruit preserves, custard, whipped cream and nuts.  It  looks gorgeous and tastes amazing.  A trifle is an excellent desert make ahead of time when you need to feed a lot of people.  It is a British desert (I’ll say it again….I love british food).  There is a lot of room for creativity with trifle.   My Aunty Mona used to make a Mexican Trifle that had used  home-grown and homemade apricot preserves, toasted almonds and a dusting of dark chocolate shavings on top.  I’m not sure why it was called Mexican Trifle (maybe the cake was soaked in Kahlua?) It was soooooo good.  For Christmas once, I made a trifle that used cranberry preserves and a ginger chocolate pudding.  It was not bad at all.  Where I grew up in Canada, colorful jello was frequently a trifle  layer.  I think that putting jello in your trifle is gross now, but I have to admit not minding it all as child.

I recently bought fresh strawberries and rhubarb at the farmers market.  I had intended to make a gluten-free strawberry rhubarb pie. I didn’t feel like following a recipe… I just decided to cook the strawberries and rhubarb down with a bit of sugar and dry ginger powder to make a pie filling.  The result was delicious but not at all right for a pie filling.  My fiance Chris was content to stand at the counter and eat  the compote by the spoonful…but it was not pie filling.  I decided that it would be good in trifle, which I have not had the pleasure of eating since I stopped eating gluten about 5 years ago.   So here is my recipe for gluten-free strawberry rhubarb trifle!


  • About 10 stalks of rhubarb (rinsed, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths)
  • About a pound of fresh strawberries (rinsed, trimmed and quartered)
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground dry ginger

Put  everything in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, skimming the foam off the surface occasionally.  Let it cool to room temperature while you make the cake.


  • 1 cup garbanzo-fava bean flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 Tablespoon plus 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup mild oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon extract (or more vanilla extract)
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup boiling  water
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and grease 12 muffin tins
  2. Whisk together the garbanzo-fava flour, potato starch, arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In another medium bowl, mix together the oil, agave, applesauce, vanilla extract, lemon extract and grated lemon zest.
  4. Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine
  5. Add the hot water and stir the batter until smooth
  6. Pour 1/3 cup batter in to each muffin tin
  7. Bake for 22 minutes or until they are golden and springy to the touch
  8. Let them cool while you make the custard


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until slightly thick.
  2. In a heavy medium saucepan, warm the milk and cream over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the eggs and sugar
  4. Put the eggs, sugar and milk back into the saucepan over low heat.
  5. Sir the custard with a rubber spatula gently and constantly making sure that you scrape the bottom and sides of the pan.
  6. As soon as the sauce begins to thicken remove it from the heat and continue to stir it while it finishes cooking for another 2 minutes.  When done, the sauce should feel like heavy cream and register 170 degrees on a thermometer.
  7. Pour the custard into a clean bowl and let it cool while you prepare the cream and fresh fruit, but stir it occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (vanilla would work too)
  • Sugar if you like (I do not)

Whip it up!  This happens faster if you do it in a cold metal bowl.


  • about 1 pound of fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed  and thinly sliced


  • I used 4 Tablespoons of Grand Marnier on each of the two layers of cake.  The booze is totally optional and it could be some other kind of booze (brandy is common)
  • toast a cup of blanched, sliced almonds in a dry frying pan over low heat until they are golden.
I made my trifle in a large glass salad bowl.  It would have been nicer if the sides of the bowl were straight but who owns that kind of thing?  You can make very pretty individual trifles in high ball glasses.  What ever you use, it should have clear sides so that folks can see all of the pretty layers.
1.  Cut the cupcakes into four or five thin slices.  Layer half of the slices at the bottom of the bowl and sprinkle them with 2 to 4  tablespoons of booze.
2.  Spread 1/2 to 3/4 cups of preserves over the cupcake layer.
3.  Arrange about 2 cups of fresh fruit on top of the preserve layer.
gluten-free strawberry rhubarb trifle
4.  Pour half of the custard sauce on top of the fruit layer.
5. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup almonds.
6.  Repeat all the cake, booze, preserves, fresh fruit and custard layers.

7.  Top with the whipped cream and finally the last 1/2 cup of nuts.

8.  Let the trifle rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours before serving.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kerthy Fix says:

    Having been an eager consumer of said trifle, I can vouch for its supreme deliciousness. This is something that looking at the pictures makes me salivate recalling its goodness. Best dessert I’ve eaten in years. And I’ve eaten at Corton…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s