For a few years now I’ve attended a Kentucky Derby barbecue hosted by my dear friend Ashley and her family. Affectionately nicknamed the DerBQ, it has become a tradition for all of us to gather to watch the “Run for the Roses” and enjoy a tasty meal in the company of great friends. Complete with Mint Juleps, expertly mixed by the hostess herself, the DerBQ is a fantastic party, and one I look forward to attending ever year. There’s always plenty of food at the DerBQ, and I usually volunteer to bring a dessert. I like to keep with tradition so I’ve made various Kentucky-themed ones in the past, including my very popular Triple Berry Trifle. Unfortunately, though, this year Ashley found out she’d be traveling for business the weekend of the Derby, so to preserve our annual May get-together, she decided to host a Preakness Picnic instead. From my years of attending the DerBQ, I’ve gotten to learn about the traditions of the Derby, like singing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ before the start, sipping those refreshing Mint Juleps and admiring the loads of red roses arranged all over Churchill Downs. Knowing that horse racing is a sport that is steeped in tradition, I decided to do some research on the Preakness to prepare for the big day, so we can celebrate in true style.
This Saturday marks the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes. Set at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, it is the second leg of the famed US Triple Crown, and is the second most attended thoroughbred horse racing event in the United States after the Kentucky Derby. Like the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness proudly upholds traditions meant to honor its home state. These traditions serve to highlight a host of Maryland’s local treasures and include the US Naval Academy Glee Club performing ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ before the start of the race and the winning horse being festooned with a blanket of black-eyed susans, Maryland’s state flower. Since I offered to bring dessert and Ashley requested my trifle, I thought I’d mix things up a bit and turn the trifle into an homage to Maryland too. Based on the colors of the Maryland state flag, this trifle features ripe red strawberries, pillowly clouds of whipped cream, rich custardy vanilla pudding layered with bananas, and decadent chocolate pound cake. This unique combo of flavors works really well together, and is a nice change of pace from my Triple Berry Trifle. I have to say, I think it will be the perfect dessert for the Preakness Picnic.
**Special Note: The measurements given in the ingredients are approximate. Adjust the amounts of your ingredients based on the size of your trifle container. You should have enough of all the ingredients to make at least two nice layers of each ingredient in the trifle bowl. Each of the ingredients can be homemade or store-bought. Use what you prefer. This can be made in a single large trifle bowl or in glasses for individual servings.
1-2 chocolate pound cakes
1 jar good quality strawberry jam
1 large container of strawberries, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
4 to 5 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
4 cups prepared vanilla pudding
whipped cream for garnish
chocolate sundae topping for garnish
Start out by prepping the pound cake. Slice the pound cake into even slices and spread each slice with a thin layer of strawberry jam on one side. Then, cut each slice of the jammed cake into cubes. Transfer some of the cubes, jam side up, to the bottom of your trifle bowl. You should add enough to cover the bottom without leaving any spaces. Next, layer some of the strawberries over the cake evenly so that the cake is completely covered. Top the strawberries with a layer of the pudding. You should see your layers start to take shape in the trifle bowl at this point. Top the pudding with a layer of the sliced bananas, then repeat the layers starting with the cake cubes and ending with the layer of sliced bananas. Continue to create layers in this fashion until the trifle bowl is filled nearly to the top. Top the whole thing with a good layer of whipped cream then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for a several hours. Just before serving, drizzle with the chocolate sundae topping.