Old-Fashioned Trifle

If whiskey-soaked cake cubes aren't enough reason to make this incredible trifle, the homemade orange-scented custard and tipsy cherries will send you running to the kitchen. For best results, use a fresh pound cake from the bakery, not the frozen kind. To make the trifle alcohol-free, omit the whiskey from the cherries and substitute an equal amount of orange juice for the whiskey.

Old-Fashioned Trifle
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
45 mins
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
12 serves



  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon Angostura bitters


  • 1 (12-oz.) pkg. frozen pitted dark cherries, thawed and drained

  • 1/4 cup cherry preserves

  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) whiskey


  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) whiskey

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 (12-oz.) bakery pound cake loaves or 1 (24-oz.) round pound cake, cut into 1-inch-thick slices

  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream

  • Orange peel twists


  1. Prepare the Custard: Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble, about 10 minutes. Continue to cook until thickened, about 4 more minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, orange juice, vanilla, and bitters until smooth. Transfer to a heatproof glass bowl. Let stand at room temperature until slightly cool, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of custard; chill until cold, at least 4 hours.

  2. Prepare the Cherries: Stir together cherries, preserves, and whiskey in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature.

  3. Prepare the Trifle: Combine whiskey and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high, whisking occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature, 20 minutes. Place cake slices in a single layer on a work surface. Brush with cooled whiskey syrup; let stand 5 minutes. Cut cake into cubes.

  4. Layer one-third of the cake cubes, one-third of the Custard, and one-third of the Cherries in a 4-quart trifle dish. Repeat layers twice. Top with whipped cream and orange peel twists. Serve immediately, or chill up to 12 hours.

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