This strawberry vegan trifle is an impressive dessert for any occasion! Vanilla sponge cake layered with strawberry jam, fresh fruit, custard and whipped cream.
Something exciting happened this week. I finally found a trifle bowl!
I know… Thrilling, right?
I am aware I sound like a bit of a weirdo getting excited over a trifle bowl but trust me when I say it has been a long time coming!
I’ve wanted to make a trifle for the blog for SO long but could never find one of those beautiful, tall trifle bowls.
At least, not unless I wanted to spend £30+ online with the risk of it arriving smashed into tiny pieces.
But looking around my local Next store the other week, I spotted one! It was the last one on the shelf and it was exactly what I’d been looking for.
Here’s the link for the glass trifle bowl if you’d like to buy it for this recipe.
If not, don’t worry! You totally don’t need a fancy bowl for this recipe. It will taste just as scrumptious in a regular large bowl!
Jelly or no jelly?
I always remember having trifle with jelly in it when I was growing up. But now, as an adult, the thought of eating cake with jelly gives me the shivers.
I know some people have the fruit and jelly at the bottom without any cake but to me, the cake is the best part of a trifle!
So I decided to opt for no jelly in my recipe. It’s totally up to you whether or not you use it though!
How to make vegan trifle
This is a layered trifle recipe which consists of cake, strawberry jam, fresh strawberries, custard and whipped cream. Then you simply repeat the layers until your bowl is full!
For the cake
The first step is to make the sponge cake. I used my vanilla sheet cake recipe here.
If you’d like something quicker that requires less effort, you can use a ready-made vegan sponge (if you can find one) or you can use a boxed vanilla cake mix.
In case you didn’t know, most boxed cake mixes are vegan-friendly and you can make easy switches for the ingredients they ask you to add.
Switch dairy milk for plant-based milk, butter for vegan butter, and eggs for flax eggs (mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 2 tablespoons of water for each egg).
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and line a 9-inch rectangular cake tin with baking paper.
Mix together 280ml of soy milk (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. This will act as your vegan buttermilk.
If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use white vinegar or lemon juice.
Set it aside for 5 minutes or so.
In a large bowl, mix together 230g of self-raising flour (1 + 3/4 cups), 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 180g of caster/superfine sugar (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons).
Add the vegan buttermilk to the bowl along with 95ml of vegetable oil (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Mix everything together well, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until you have a smooth cake batter.
Transfer the batter into your lined tin and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick through the centre comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then flip it out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking paper and let it cool completely.
Once the cake is completely cool, cut it into small rectangles or squares, around 2-3 inches in size.
Cut each of the small pieces in half. On one half, spread some strawberry jam and on the other, use a pastry brush to brush some fruit juice on. Sandwich the two halves back together.
If you prefer, you can use sherry to brush the cake with. I used mixed berry fruit juice instead because I’m not a huge alcohol fan.
For the custard
If you want to go all out, you can make your own vegan custard with just 5 ingredients! You’ll need 2 batches of it (~700ml or 2 + 1/2 to 3 cups).
Alternatively, you can use Bird’s custard powder. So long as you prepare it with a plant-based milk alternative, it’s vegan-friendly! You’ll need 2 batches of this too, according to the instructions on the pot.
I have to admit that I used the custard powder when I made my trifle because I’d ran out of cornflour that day and couldn’t make my own.
Note: It’s important that you let the custard cool completely before you add it to the trifle. Otherwise, it will make the cake all soggy and make the cream collapse. I like to keep it on the thicker side too so that it’s more sturdy for layering everything else on top!
For the whipped cream
I used Elmlea plant double cream for my trifle but you can use any kind of vegan whipping cream you like.
It just has to be sturdy enough to hold the other layers on top, so spray cream won’t work unless you only put it on the top and not in the middle.
I stabilized the Elmlea cream by adding icing sugar which made it a bit thicker, so it wasn’t so flimsy and floppy.
If you can’t find any vegan whipped cream, you can make your own coconut whipped cream.
Putting it all together
- Start with one layer of the mini sandwich cakes. Cut them to size if necessary so that any gaps at the bottom are filled up. It doesn’t matter if it looks pretty or not, as long as the gaps are filled.
- Spoon some strawberry jam over the cake layer.
- Add a layer of chopped fresh strawberries (or raspberries, or whatever kind of fruit you like).
- Spoon the cold custard in and spread it out evenly over the fruit.
- Add a layer of the whipped cream. I also added some strawberry slices around the side of the bowl halfway for decoration.
Then just repeat until your bowl is full! I did two layers of each ingredient in my 7-inch-tall bowl.
I then topped it with more fresh strawberries, some mint and a sprinkling of icing sugar for decoration.
I’d recommend eating it within 24 hours of making it. It will taste OK for up to 2-3 days but is always best when fresh.
In the fridge, loosely covered. I usually just wrap some cling film or put a plate on top of the trifle bowl and that works fine.
Yes! Trifle is traditionally made with sherry but I’ve heard people using other kinds of alcohol such as limoncello, amaretto and flavoured liqueurs.
I don’t personally like alcohol which is why I used fruit juice to brush the cake with but feel free to substitute it if you like!
Pin for later
Dairy and egg-free trifle made with vanilla cake, fresh strawberries, custard and whipped cream!
For the sponge cake:
- 280 ml Soy milk (1 cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 2 Teaspoons Apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice/white vinegar)
- 230 g Self-raising flour (1 + ¾ cups)
- ½ Teaspoon Baking soda
- 180 g Caster sugar (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 95 ml Vegetable oil (⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon)
- Strawberry jam
- Fruit juice or sherry for brushing onto the cake (this keeps it moist and adds flavour)
- 300-400 g Chopped fresh strawberries (2 to 3 + ½ cups)
- ~700 ml Vegan custard*, cooled (~2+½ to 3 cups)
- Vegan whipped cream (I used 270ml of Elmlea plant double cream**)
For the sponge cake:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C/325°F if using a fan or convection oven). Line a 9-inch rectangular tray with baking paper.
Mix the soy milk and vinegar together and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and sugar.
Add the milk/vinegar mixture to the bowl along with the oil and the vanilla extract. Mix well, making sure to scrape any mixture from the bottom of the bowl, until you have a smooth cake batter.
Transfer the batter to your lined tin and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Once cooled, cut the cake into small squares or rectangles around 2-3 inches in size.
Cut each piece in half. Brush one half with the fruit juice or sherry and spread some jam on the other half. Sandwich the pieces back together.
Place a layer of the mini sponge sandwiches at the bottom of your trifle bowl. Cut the pieces to size if necessary so there are no gaps.
Spoon a few tablespoons of jam over the cake then add a handful of strawberries.
Add a layer of custard and spread it out evenly.
Add a layer of whipped cream and spread evenly.
Repeat the layers until your trifle bowl is full. Top with fresh fruit and a dusting of icing sugar.
- *Use Bird’s custard powder made with vegan milk or use my homemade custard recipe. Alternatively, you can use a ready-made vegan custard such as Alpro.
- **If you can’t find a suitable vegan whipping cream, you can use 1 batch of coconut whipped cream instead.
- Store loosely covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. Tastes best on the day of serving.