Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes (Vegan Gluten-Free Option)

These Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes are the cutest lemon cupcakes packed with fresh cherries, sliced in half and served as mini cakes with a whipped cream cherry jam filling and more cream on top.

For my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary this year, I wanted to make them something special, but given all the cake we have at home, I didn’t want to go overboard with only the three of us to eat them. So, I thought cupcakes was a safe choice but to make these even better, I made cupcakes into mini cakes with only a few simple tricks. The flavours are a combination of my parents favourite flavours, Dad loves cherries and Mum always goes for lemon, so the cherry-lemon mini cake was born.

Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cake on a small white plate
Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes

Why will I love these Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes?

These mini sponge cakes are the cutest, they are:

  • Light, fluffy, tender and moist
  • Fruity and zesty
  • Creamy and smooth
  • Packed with real lemon and fresh cherries
  • Filled with a light-as-air whipped cream
  • Topped with more cream and cherries
  • Impressive to serve to guests and loved ones
  • Easy and quick to make
  • Naturally vegan and nut-free and easily gluten-free

If you already love these Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes then skip ahead to the recipe card below. Or, first let’s discuss the recipe in more detail.

Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes close up
Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes

What ingredients do I need?

The recipe for these cakes is a simple mix that I come back to time and time again with a few tweaks:

  • Fresh cherries: this recipe needs quite a few cherries and fresh is best as the tinned ones have too much extra moisture. I have a cherry pitter which makes fast work of this task.
  • Plant-based milk: any milk is great here like almond, oat, soya or coconut (from the carton).
  • Lemon juice and zest: the juice is here to curdle the milk to help create a buttermilk which, in turn, binds the batter. The lemon zest is for adding the lemon flavour.
  • Light olive oil: or you can use sunflower oil and most create a really moist sponge. I prefer using a liquid oil but I am sure coconut oil would also work.
  • Coconut sugar: or you can use caster sugar. These cakes are quite golden due to the coconut sugar which is richer in colour and flavour.
  • Vanilla and almond essence: vanilla is the classic cake choice for sweetness but I also add some almond essence which works so well with cherries.
  • Plain or gluten-free plain flour: this keeps the batter light and moist. If using gluten-free flour, please ensure it’s a recommended baking blend that contains xanthan gum to bind the batter and prevent crumbly cakes.
  • Baking powder and salt: for rise and flavour.

As for the filling and topping:

  • Vegan whipping cream: there are quite a few vegan cream options now, just make sure it’s one for whipping, like a dairy-free double cream. I used the new whipping cream from Coconut Collaborative here and it works so well.
  • Lemon zest: for flavour.
  • Cherry jam: for filling inside the mini cakes. You can make your own, using the recipe for cherry compote here and chopping the cherries much smaller (you can also skip the amaretto, if you prefer).
  • Icing sugar: to dust on top.

How do I make these Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes?

These are easy to make and are more like cupcakes in terms of method:

  • Pit the cherries and chop small: toss with some flour.
  • Whisk together all the wet ingredients: till smooth.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients: and whisk to a smooth, thick batter.
  • Fold in the cherries: and then scoop the batter into 12 large cupcake or muffin cases.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden and risen: an inserted skewer will come out clean.
  • Cool fully on a wire rack: and do not touch until they are cool.
  • Whip the cream and prepare the cherry jam: if needed.
  • Slice each cupcake in half widthways: be careful in case there are cherry pieces that may pull the knife.
  • Pipe on the cream to the bottom side of the cupcakes: either in small points or spread all over.
  • Fill the middle with jam: and sandwich together with the top of the cupcakes.
  • Decorate with more whipped cream and a cherry: and dust with icing sugar.
Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes cut open
Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes

Are these mini cakes gluten-free and nut-free?

Yes these are easily gluten-free, just use your favourite gluten-free flour blend for baking and check that your milk is gluten-free (e.g. some oat milks contain gluten still). As for nuts, these naturally do not contain nuts, just please check your milk and cream.

Can I make these into other flavours?

Yes, these Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes work so well with other flavours. You can swap the cherries for blueberries, strawberries or raspberries and swap the lemon for orange or grapefruit, too.

How long will these mini cakes keep for?

Once decorated and filled with cream, these are best eaten within 2-3 days and must be kept in a sealed container in the fridge. Unfilled cupcakes can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month and allow them to thaw at room temperature and then continue to decorate.

30th wedding anniversary Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes
Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes

I love these mini cakes, what else can I make?

I hope you are going to love these Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes and for more cakes and cupcakes, how about my:

Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes (Vegan Gluten-Free Option)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes are the cutest lemon cupcakes packed with fresh cherries, sliced in half and served as mini cakes with a whipped cream cherry jam filling and more cream on top.


    For the Sponge Cakes:
  • 200g cherries, pitted weight
  • 240ml plant-based milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 80ml light olive oil
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 280g + 1 tsp plain/GF plain flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Filling:
  • 220ml vegan whipping cream
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 12 tsp cherry jam
  • 12 cherries
  • Icing sugar, to dust


  1. Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and line a muffin tray with 12 cases.
  2. Slice the cherries in half and toss with 1 tsp of flour, leave to one side.
  3. To a large mixing bowl, add the plant-based milk, lemon juice, olive oil, coconut sugar, vanilla and almond essence and the lemon zest. Whisk till fully mixed.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add the salt, Whisk to a smooth, thick batter.
  5. Fold in the cherries and divide between the cases, filling 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove straight away from the tins to cool fully on a wire rack.
  7. Whip up the cream till really fluffy and thick and then whip in most of the lemon zest. Place the cream in a piping bag.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the cases and very carefully slice in half horizontally (you will have to cut through cherries which is easier to cut them through with scissors!).
  9. Onto the bottom half of the sponge cakes, pipe the whipped cream around the edge and then fill the middle with cherry jam. Sandwich together with the top of the cake and pipe more cream on top. Decorate with a cherry and some extra lemon zest and a dusting of icing sugar.
  10. Enjoy straight away or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days. You can freeze the unfilled cakes for up to 1 month, wrapped well.
Landscape photo of Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes
Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes

I look forward to hearing what you think of these Mini Cherry Lemon Sponge Cakes so please let me know in the comments below. If you do make these, I’d love to see so please tag me in our cakes, I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With cherry lemon love x

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