Ziggy Stardust Cake

I’ve called this Ziggy Stardust Cake because I used Hammerton’s Life on Mars and man, oh man, was it good? Yes! It was the best fruit cake I have ever tasted. I am not exaggerating. Mr Rathbone said the same.


Plus, it won first prize in the fruit cake category at the Muswell Hill and District Horticultural Society Spring Show.  I was so proud!


It is the best. And it lasts forever.* I am going to tweak the cooking time now that I understand how my oven works.  I baked my cake at 150 degrees rather than 160 for an hour and 15 minutes – so a lower temperature and 15 minutes shorter than the recipe suggested.  I’m finally getting to know the oven.  We are almost on speaking terms now…

Also, next time I’m going to replace the figs with something else, as I’m not mad on the gritty texture of figs.  The mixture looked very pretty as I was making it…  It’s rich enough to be a Christmas Cake for sure.


This recipe is adapted from the Trappist fruit cake recipe in Paul Mercurio’s Cooking With Beer cookbook.


I highly recommend this brilliant book, as Paul puts it: “If there’s liquid in a recipe, it might as well be beer”. There are lots more recipes in this book I want to try, and I’ll be posting about his divine chocolate brownie recipe soon…


Who would have thought someone who does such a beautiful pasodoble could be such a genius cook too?


Ziggy Stardust Cake

125g unsalted butter, chopped

185g dark brown sugar

375g mixed dried fruit

100g dried cranberries

50g dried figs, chopped small

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

60ml sherry

250ml Hammerton’s Life on Mars

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

100g macadamia nuts, chopped

150g plain (all-purpose) flour

150g self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 160 C (325 F / Gas mark 2-3).  Grease a 22 cm (8.5 inch) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, letting the paper extend about 1 inch higher than the rim of the tin.

Place butter, sugar, dried fruits, spices, bicarbonate of soda, sherry and beer in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir to combine, bring to boil.  Remove from heat and stir again to ensure that the butter and sugar are melted.  Pour mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool.  Once mixture is lukewarm, add the eggs and nuts and mix through.

Put all the flower in a bowl, and stir to combine.  Fold the flour through the fruit until well incorporated.  Spoon the batter into the cake tin and bake for 1 and 1/2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, carefully remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

  • Paul notes that you should allow the cake to fully cool before you cut it.  He also says that the cake will keep for a week, mine was still good after a week, plus I popped a chunk in the freezer as it was a HEFTY cake.  I’ll report back about how it freezes.  Yum, yum.

Thank you Paul Mercurio for your lovely cake recipe, and thank you David Bowie for the music.  Next time I make this, I’m going to listen to the whole The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album while I am baking…

Ziggy Stardust

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