In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl. Cool to room temperature without stirring.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the rhubarb, sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir 5-8 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and mixture is thickened. Cool completely. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold a fourth of the whipped cream into the custard. Fold in remaining whipped cream.
Place half of the cake cubes in a 2-1/2 quart trifle bowl. Spread with half of the rhubarb mixture; top with 1 cup of strawberries and half of the custard. Repeat layers. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Yield: 12-14 servings.
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If you were alive in the late 18th and early 19th century, as some of you might have been, you know that it was no guarantee that your cocktail would be served or cooled with ice. In fact, there was a good chance the tavern or bar you were in had no ice at all. Especially if you lived in the American South or a stone's throw from the equator. You can thank Frederic Tudor, the “Boston Ice King,” for remedying that. His ice deliveries from the Northeast to hotter climates paved the way for creative uses of ice like the crushed “cobble stone”-like pieces of ice found in the cobbler. Grab your Lewis Bag and get crackin’!