Wendy Barrie’s Scottish Trifle

Many families like a trifle on the table at Christmas time. This recipe is taken from Wendy Barrie's book, Meadows: The Swedish Farmer & The Scottish Cook which we reviewed on Wednesday. A badly made trifle can be disgusting. There are no shortcuts in this recipe as it features home made Swiss roll for the base and home made custard. There is a reference to vanilla sugar. Don't throw away a vanilla pod once you've used it. Make sure it's dry and put it in a jar and cover it with sugar. After a few days the sugar will be delicately perfumed. If you don't have vanilla sugar I'm sure the world won't come to an end.

Many thanks to Wendy and Bosse for permission to reproduce it. The particularly Scottish twist is the inclusion of rowans as a garnish. Don't go looking for them in Sainsbury's - you have to forage your own. Bear in mind that if you want to use them you'll have to start preparing them a few days in advance. See the method at the foot. As an alternative Wendy suggests flaked almonds. I think raspberries would work well too.

Scottish trifle (serves 6)


For the Swiss roll

4 free range eggs; 100g soft brown sugar; 100g plain flour; strawberry or raspberry jam.

For the custard

300ml single cream; 3 egg yolks; 1dsp (dessertspoonful) vanilla caster sugar; 1 generous dsp cornflour.

For the trifle

1 home-baked Swiss roll (see below); 350g mixed fruit  (defrosted summer berries are even better than fresh, for vibrant colour, great flavour and their own juice); 2 tbsp fruit liqueur; 1 batch custard (see below); 300ml double cream, whipped; rum-soaked rowans to garnish (or toasted flaked almonds).


Swiss roll

Pre-heat oven to 190°C.  Line a classic Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

Whisk eggs and sugar in a bowl, until pale and creamy. The mix should be sufficiently thick for the whisk to leave a visible trail on the surface for 3 seconds.

Sieve flour over the eggs and sugar mix and gently fold in using a spatula, taking care to retain as much air as possible.

Pour into tin and bake immediately for 10 minutes until well risen and set.

Turn out sponge onto a flat surface, lined with a sheet of baking parchment, and peel away the underside parchment. Trim away sponge edges with a sharp knife. To ease rolling, score lightly the edge you intend to roll from. Spread with jam and roll up sponge.


Heat cream in a pan to scalding temperature. In a separate bowl, whisk remaining ingredients together with a balloon whisk.

Pour piping hot cream over egg mix, whisking all the time.

Once smooth and beginning to thicken, return custard to pan on a very low heat and whisk until you feel it start to thicken further. At that point quickly pour custard back into your bowl and keep whisking again to prevent over-cooking of eggs. Set aside to cool.


Cut the Swiss roll in slices and place the spirals around the inside of a glass serving bowl, with a layer in the base. Drizzle liqueur all over.

Spoon the fruit on top of sponges, distributing evenly throughout the dish. Drizzle any remaining juice over the top. Spoon the cooled custard over, then spoon on the whipped cream and garnish.

Rum-soaked rowan berries

Soften berries in a pan with sufficient sugar to take the edge off then transfer to sterilised jars, pouring over spiced rum to fully cover. After several days spread out the rum-soaked berries on a tray and allow to partially dry in a low oven. Use these russet gems to spice up any dessert and retain the residual rum for cocktails.

Wendy Barrie














  1. Robert Corrigan on 9th December 2022 at 7:00 pm

    A very nice recipe with as you say “with a twist “

    A good trifle is a wonderful dessert. 👍🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿✅

  2. Liz Wood on 9th December 2022 at 9:51 pm

    The rowan berries sound amazing. Great to have a different way of using them.

  3. Pat M on 9th December 2022 at 10:39 pm

    No no. Real Scottish trifle. Bought Swiss roll or Madeira cake soaked with sherry. Tinned fruit cocktail. Jelly – essential. Custard made with Birds custard powder and top layer of cream decorated with glacé cherries. Retro and best. Rowan berries in December???

    • Tom Johnston on 10th December 2022 at 11:46 am

      Just giving you warning for the next season. Regarding your own recipe, many retro dishes are things of beauty – prawn cocktail, steak Diane, a good Black Forest gateau. But that trifle is NOT one of them! Have a great Christmas.

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