Mabon Apple Pomegranate Cake
The Isle of Apples in Michigan
To celebrate Mabon I love to pick apples with my family. I feel the connection to Avalon, the Isle of Apples, so strongly in an apple grove. Here in Northern Michigan, I feel I am in the heart of the Isle of Apples of the new world. The golden hue of light in the orchards here in the fall is a powerful portal to Avalon and to Christ Consciousness for me.
Participating in the harvest helps me to connect to the gratitude and fullness of this season and helps me to lead my family into feeling this thanksgiving too. I love to let my mind wander where it will while I’m picking, letting each shiny jewel I pluck inspire me in another dream and remembering of harvests past and future. I love to daydream about the days when the apple trees were ever blooming and fruiting simultaneously.
My daughter Rowan dreamily picking apples at an orchard in Elk Rapids, MI.
The fruits of Demeter and Persephone
Apples are an ancient symbol of the harvest. Their seeds are kept safely tucked deep inside the core, under the apple flesh. These are the seeds for the harvest to come. The pomegranate has long been a symbol of both death and the evergreen, ever alive reality of our souls. When we open the pomegranate we find it is made entirely of the seeds for future life, and so it is with death. Death is the seed of rebirth.
In the myth of Demeter and Persephone, the daughter descends to reign alongside her husband Hades each autumn. In the underworld, Persephone eats seven pomegranate seeds, one for each of the seven gates of the underworld, following in Inanna’s footsteps. Through the myth of Demeter and Persephone we see the continuation of the story of Inanna’s descent and rebirth onto the earthly plane. We celebrate the truth that although this body is temporary, our soul is eternal and all returns to love.
The apple is the first fruit of the womb. The apple is Demeter’s promise to renew the harvest each year with the return of her daughter. The Pomegranate is Persephone’s promise to descend into the underworld each fall so that we can ascend and be reborn anew with the spring. Both the apple and the pomegranate teach us that though our current body will die and decay, the seeds of rebirth are ensconced within.
As mothers, we grieve when our daughters, our loved ones dive into the underworld. We grieve the loss of their innocence, we grieve our perfect union with them as they become fully sovereign and seek the experiences they need in order to become initiated. The mother’s job is to let the daughter go, knowing that when the time is right, mother and daughter will come together again. This process is a paradox of grief and rejoicing at their descent/ascent process.
As we prepare both apple and pomegranate to make our cake, we honor the love of Demeter and Persephone. We honor the pain of their separation, and the joy and rebirth of their reunification. We acknowledge the descent that is necessary for our growth and rebirth as mothers and daughters, and we celebrate the knowing that all that dies will be reborn.
FOR THE CAKE:
- 3 C. oat flour
- 2 t. Baking Powder
- 1/8 t. Salt
- 1/4 t. Cloves, ground
- 1/2 t. Nutmeg, ground
- 1 t. Cinnamon, ground
- 6 oz. Butter, (cold is fine, chop up for easier mixing)
- 3/4 C. Beet Sugar
- 4 large Pink Lady apples (or other)
- 2 Eggs
- 3/4 C. Milk
- 2 T. Sugar in the raw (for sprinkling on top of cake)
FOR THE SAUCE:
- Pomegranate juice 1/2 cup
- Powdered sugar 4 tbs
- Lemon juice 1 tbs
FOR THE CAKE:
- Grease and flour an 8″ or 9″ round springform pan. Using an 8″ pan will give you a taller cake.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Make sure the bowl is very large to allow room for the apples to be folded in.
- Cut the butter into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Add the ¾ C. sugar to the flour mixture and mix in.
- Peel the apples (or leave on skin if you prefer) and slice them into uniform pieces. This cake works best and gets that ‘chunky apple look’ if the slices are about ¼” wide and then cut into 3 pieces.
- Toss the apples into the flour mixture and combine them thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add this to the apple and flour mixture and mix in with a large spatula until just combined. Batter will be thick and dough-like.
- Transfer the dough into the prepared cake pan and flatten the top surface using the back of your spatula.
- Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cake. I like to use a large granule sugar if I have any around.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes. Test the center for doneness. The top of the cake should be golden brown. Serve slices with pomegranate sauce.
- After cake cools, serve with pomegranate sauce and a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate.
FOR THE POMEGRANATE SAUCE:
- Preheat the pan and pour in pomegranate juice. Allow it to heat for a minute.
- Add powdered sugar and mix for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the sauce will become thick. Add lemon juice and turn off the flame. Allow the sauce to cool it down completely and keep it in the refrigerator.
Recipe, musings, and photographs by Carrie Poe