Gluten-Free Cherry Trifle

This family-sized dessert has all the classic trifle layers – generous helpings of jelly, fruit & dairy-free custard! It takes inspiration from those naughty packet trifles some of us might remember from the 1970’s, which have a layer of jelly poured over sponges. We chose to make our own, healthier jelly using Cherry Active Concentrate. This fruit concentrate made from Montmorency cherries is packed with antioxidants and has a beautiful, naturally rich dark-red colour. As this juice is quite tart we sweetened it with a little Xylitol. The fruit cocktail mix and gluten-free sponges also help balance out this natural acidity. The jelly was easily thickened with Clearspring Agar Flakes. If you wish, you could swap the fruit cocktail mix with sweet cherries and other seasonal fruits.

We decided to make our own, gluten-free trifle sponges. This allowed us to control the sugar and fat levels, and there would be no unnecessary additives or artifical colours. Many of us are familiar with the traditional sponge mix which calls for equal parts of butter, sugar and flour. However, after trying the Doves Farm recipe for gluten-free Butterfly Cakes, we discovered that 150g of fat was just far too much, and the second time we used just 80g of coconut oil. You can of course substitute with margarine or butter as you wish.

Other Ingredients

3 eggs
500ml cold water
250g of Fruit Cocktail mix in fruit juice or your own choice of fruits
300ml/300g of 50% fat creme fraiche, Greek Style yoghurt or soya yoghurt


1) Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/ Fan 180°C/ Gas Mark 6.
2) Cream the butter and Xylitol together.
3) Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Then gradually beat in the flour, then the milk.
4) Spoon the mixture into a large muffin pan or cup-cake pan.
5) Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-20 minutes or until the sponges have risen, are golden brown on top and a cocktail stick comes out dry when inserted into the deepest part of them.
6) Allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
7) Using a sharp knife, cut the sponges in half and spread the raspberry jam onto one side, then sandwich the halves back together. Place into the base of your trifle dish.
8) Spoon your chosen fruit over the sponges. Cover and refridgerate.
9) In a saucepan pour the 500ml of cold water and sprinkle the agar flakes over the surface. Stir once or twice. Bring gently to a simmer. Then stir until the flakes have fully dissolved.
10) Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a heat proof bowl/jug. Allow to cool a little. Add the Cherry Active and your chosen sweetener. Taste and add extra sweetener if necessary. Pour gently over the sponges. Refridgerate once the jelly has cooled. You should find that the jelly will solidify more quickly than using gelatine/shop bought jelly.
11) Just before serving, spoon the Soya Custard over the jelly. Then in a separate bowl mix the creme fraiche, vanilla extract and your chosen sweetener together.
12) Gently spoon the creme fraiche over the custard. Sprinkle with chocolate flakes and garnish the centre with fresh cherries. Then serve. Our dish provided enough helpings for around 8 people. The dish measured 20cm/ 8 inches in diameter across the top.

Happy trifle-making!