For the vanilla pudding (makes 7 to 8 cups):
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups light or heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 cups 2% milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the trifle:
- 18 ounces angel food cake, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
- 2 pounds strawberries, divided
- 10 ounces (2 cups) cherries, pitted and halved
- 6 ounces (2 cups) raspberries
- 3 pounds (4 pints) blueberries, divided
- 6 ounces (2 cups) blackberries, sliced in half lengthwise
- 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
To make the vanilla pudding: Whisk the cornstarch and salt together in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the cream, making sure there are no lumps. Whisk in the egg yolks. It is important that this mix be very smooth.
Warm the milk with the sugar over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan until bubbles form around the edge of the milk and the entire surface of the milk begins to vibrate. Turn off the heat.
Pour 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cornstarch and egg yolks. Whisk vigorously to combine. They should come together smoothly, with no lumps. If you see any lumps, add a little more liquid and whisk them out. Pour the combined mixture back into the pot slowly, whisking constantly. Turn the heat back on to medium and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. The custard will come to a boil with large bubbles that slowly pop up to the surface. Boil, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Use this pudding immediately to make the trifle.
Begin assembling the trifle: Pack half of the angel food cake into the bottom of a large glass bowl. The bowl should hold 20 to 24 cups (160 to 192 fluid ounces). Immediately pour half of the warm pudding over the cake. Press plastic wrap or buttered wax paper onto the surface and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chilled.
Pour the remaining pudding into a shallow dish and press plastic wrap or buttered wax paper onto its surface. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm enough to be spooned out of the dish.
While the first layer of trifle and the pudding are chilling, prepare the fruit.
For the red fruit: Hull and quarter 1 pound of the strawberries and mix with the cherries and raspberries. Refrigerate. Reserve remaining strawberries for topping the trifle.
For the blue fruit: Lightly mash 2 cups of the blueberries just until they release their juices. Stir in 2 more cups of blueberries and the blackberries. Refrigerate. Reserve remaining blueberries for topping the trifle.
Whip the cream cheese with beaters or in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the cream, whipping until smooth, and continue whipping until it forms soft peaks. Whip in the powdered sugar and lemon zest.
To finish assembling the trifle, drain off any juices that have collected in the bottom of the fruit bowls. Remove the plastic wrap from the trifle and spread the red fruit over the base layer of cake and pudding. Top gently with the whipped cream, then with the remaining cake cubes.
Whip the remaining vanilla pudding until creamy, and spread over the cake cubes. Top with the blue fruit mixture, then with a final layer of the whipped cream.
To finish the trifle, hull and slice the remaining 16 ounces strawberries. Arrange the remaining strawberries and blueberries on top of the trifle. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.
- If you’re not using the pudding for this trifle, pour it into a shallow container, like a 9×13-inch baking dish. Press plastic wrap or buttered wax paper onto the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm enough to be spooned out of the bowl. Store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Before serving, whip the chilled pudding with a large whisk or in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 60 seconds to make it creamy and light.