A Trifle for Keepitcoming Love's Birthday

Tonight was Keepitcoming Love's 30th birthday, and to celebrate, I put the finishing touches on the birthday trifle I'd been slowly assembling this week. When I asked Keepitcoming what she wanted for her birthday cake, she asked for something boozy, mushy, floral, and containing berries. With a little creative research, I found a trifle on the blog Cream Puffs in Venice, made with lavender loaves, pastry cream, and macerated strawberries.It sounded good. But it needed to be extreme. So I amped it up a little with my own take on trifle. Luckily, we had a butt-ton of snow days this week. Day one, I baked the lavender loaves. It was an easy recipe with quite a few eggs, and with a little added orange zest and vanilla, turned out to make a delicious sponge cake. Very dense. I made this ahead of time because I had to let it sit. The more stale it is, the better it is for absorbing liquids and maintaining its shape. I also made the simple syrup for the cake. I wanted to have something to boost the floral notes in the trifle, so Keepitcoming and I made a lavender, honey, and rosewater syrup to soak the cake in.On day two, the pastry cream was made. This was an especially daunting task as I'd never made pastry cream before. Keepitcoming claimed she'd made it but couldn't tell me anything about when or why she did. I think she dreamed about it. Nevertheless, this was easier than I thought and made me even cockier about cooking than before. To make the cream even more unctuous, I added a few tablespoons of Chambord and it gave it a really custardy and fruity flavor.That night, we cut up and macerated the strawberries with a little Grand Marnier. They were really frothy and boozy and chilled overnight. In the morning, I assembled the trifle with layers of each component, and a topping of fresh whipped cream with a heart of raspberries and preserves. And that was it! It was a wonderful birthday (made even more wonderful with pasta carbonara and a 1981 Vina Bosconia) and I was glad to have had the opportunity to share it with her.For the basic gist of this recipe, check out this website: she didn't post the entire thing, so my ratios were off and I had to make some quick changes, but it's relatively easy to figure out from the photos alone.

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