So I’ve given this dish a much fancier name than it actually has in my family. We call this recipe Strawberry Junk. I really wanted to title this post “F*cking Strawberry Junk” per my husband’s suggestion, but then I thought who in the hell will click on something called f*cking junk unless they’re related to me? It may be called junk, but it’s anything but. This delicious treat is a combination of light-as-air angel food cake, creamy homemade vanilla pudding, fresh strawberries, and fluffy whipped cream.
Junk is a much-loved dessert in my family that greatly resembles a trifle. We have a strawberry version like the one featured here and a chocolate junk recipe that I’ll be posting soon. Strawberry Junk is always my favorite while the temperature is still warm, and we switch to chocolate once winter arrives.
Strawberry Junk is a delectable mashup of layers of angel food cake, vanilla pudding, or custard if you want to continue with the fancy façade of trifle, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. My mom’s original recipe uses good old Jello Instant Pudding, but I find homemade pudding incredibly easy to make and totally worth the smidgeon of extra effort. As you would expect, this dish is best with really good strawberries hence why you won’t find this dessert on my family’s table in the winter months.
Strawberry Junk is such an easy way to provide dessert to a large group so it’s something my mom often made for family gatherings. Store-bought angel food cake or a box mix as I have used in this recipe is totally acceptable. I have made homemade angel food cake for this recipe, and it truly makes no difference. On top of that, making angel food cake from scratch requires a shit ton of eggs and is far more time consuming than necessary.
If you don’t have an angel food cake pan at home, I recommend just buying the cake from the bakery section at your grocery store. My mom always purchased the cake so I see nothing wrong with that option. Angel food cake pans are specifically designed to allow the cake to cool upside down. If you don’t have this specific pan, you can use a loaf pan and set the cake on its side to cool, but again, just buy the damn cake.
Making the pudding from scratch takes about 10-15 minutes and is certainly the most complicated part of this recipe. The remaining steps consist of tearing the angel food cake into pieces, a great task for kids to help out, slicing the strawberries and soaking in a bit of sugar and lemon, and lastly, whipping heavy cream into a heavenly fluff. That’s really all there is to it.
You can prepare this in a trifle dish if you’d like to create a special presentation, or you can do as my mom did and serve it from a large Tupperware. A 9×13 baking pan also works perfectly. Honestly, it’s junk. Serve it however the f*ck you like.
I hope you and your family enjoy a pile of Strawberry Junk as much as we always do. Let me know how it goes in the comments section below!
- 1 angel food cake store-bought or made from mix
- 2 lbs strawberries
- 1 lemon
- 2 C whole milk
- 1/2 C + 2 Tb sugar
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tb butter
- 2 C heavy cream
- 1/2 C powdered sugar
To make vanilla pudding*
- Combine 1/2 C milk, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt in a large liquid measuring cup or bowl with a spout for easy pouring. Bring 1 and 1/2 C milk and 1/2 C sugar to simmer over medium heat. When bubbles just start to form around the outer edge, remove from heat and pour into bowl with remaining milk and cornstarch. Pour the hot milk very slowly and stir the entire time to prevent from making scrambled eggs.
- Once all the milk and sugar is combined into the cornstarch mixture, return the entire mix back to the stove over medium heat. While stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes. The desired thickness is a bit looser than your standard pudding cup as it will thicken as it cools. Remove from the heat once thickened and add 2 tsp vanilla and butter. Don’t add the vanilla while the pudding is being heated or the vanilla flavor will just cook off.
- Pour the finished pudding into a bowl to cool. Place plastic wrap over the top and press the wrap down so that it is in contact with the pudding. This will prevent a skin from forming on the pudding. Place in the freezer for one hour to chill.
To sweeten strawberries
- Remove stem, hull and quarter strawberries. Place in a large bowl and add the juice of one lemon, being careful to remove any seeds and 2 Tb of sugar. Toss gently to combine and set aside while you prepare the other components.
To make whipped cream
- Pour cold heavy cream into a large mixing. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, whip the cream starting on medium speed and increase to high speed once the cream has thickened slightly. After about 1 minute, turn the mixer off and add 1/2 C powdered sugar and the remaining 1 tsp of vanilla. Turn mixer back on low first to blend in sugar and then increase speed to high until the cream forms stiff peaks or about 2 more minutes. Be careful not to overwhip or you’ll end up with something more like butter than whipped cream.
To assemble Strawberry Junk
- Prepare angel food cake if making from a box mix and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, tear into large chunks. Place chunks on the bottom of a large trifle dish or a 9 x 13 baking pan.
- Top angel food cake evenly first with the strawberries and accumulated syrup. Next spread the cooled vanilla pudding across the strawberries being sure to gently move around the cake and strawberries so the pudding can move down through the layers. Last, top with whipped cream.
- Place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours, but it’s even better if you let it rest for 6-8 hours before serving so the cake can soak up all the strawberry and vanilla flavors.