Persephone cupcakes (in other words, mythologically inspired pomegranate cupcakes)

Persephone cupcakes

I was excited to see a pomegranate at the farmers’ market last week. I purchased one with much joy and have been toying with various uses for it. I thought however, that it would be fun to make some pomegranate cupcakes to take to work. When I told my darling partner of my final decision, he told me I should call them Persephone cupcakes. He has had a far better classical education than I, and at my request relayed a fabulous account of the ancient tale of Persephone, the Greek goddess of gardens, daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter. Every year, she was taken by Hades into the underworld where she was kept for four months and forced to eat four pomegranate seeds before being freed to bring springtime to earth in response to the cries of the people. In retrospect, I should have made these lovely little cupcakes with only four pomegranate seeds on top to make the connection more strongly, but the entire recipe is inspired by ancient ingredients.

Makes approx 24


2 cups self raising flour, sifted
5 cardamom pods, crushed, husks removed
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 cup verjuice
½ cup milk
125 grams butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten

Icing and decoration

1 whole pomegranate
125 grams butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup

To make cupcakes: preheat oven to 200oC and grease mini cupcake pan. Combine dry ingredients; add wet ingredients and mix till combined. Pour into cupcake pan and bake for 15 minutes or till cooked through and golden. Remove from tin and cool completely.

To make pomegranate frosting: remove all the pomegranate gems from the fruit. Reserve 1/3 of them for garnish. Place the rest of them in a fine sieve over a small bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the pomegranate gems to remove all juice. Discard the seeds. In a large bowl, beat the butter and gradually add icing sugar. Once you’ve added about half the icing sugar, add the pomegranate juice.

To decorate: place icing in piping bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle. Moving from the outside to the middle of each cupcake, pipe a swirl of icing on each. Scatter pomegranate gems onto the icing and press down to secure. Drizzle the tiniest amount of pomegranate syrup onto each cupcake. Arrange on a platter and serve

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4 Responses to Persephone cupcakes (in other words, mythologically inspired pomegranate cupcakes)

  1. Tessa says:

    Another wonderful use of pomegranates is the Persian dish Fesenjoon – although it is the syrup or concentrated juice that works best. One version of the recipe is below.
    Looking forward to eating one of your beautiful cupcakes tonight 🙂

  2. Josie says:

    So delicious! The pomegranates work to cut through the sweetness of the icing. The juice and cardamom also work to make these little cupcakes flavoursome and moreish. YUM!

  3. languagelynx says:

    Oh wow, they look great! I can only imagine what they taste like. Yum!

  4. uluvsnoozan says:

    I got a bit excited about these, and sent the link to Maggie Beer. I was very excited when I heard back from the Farmshop today!

    Dear Susan,

    Many thanks for your lovely email regarding Maggie’s Verjuice, and particularly for including the link to your blog. You’ve done a great job, and the recipe for the Persephone Cupcakes is just delicious. I have two trees full-to-bursting with bright red pomegranates, almost ready to be picked, and am personally very pleased to have another recipe to add to my pomegranate file. They’re such a beautiful fruit but it can be hard to think of new ways to incorporate them sometimes. Great work on the name, too – clever partner.

    I know Maggie will be delighted to hear that you have bought and enjoyed her new book. It is a beautiful collection of recipes. Like you, I’m a huge fan of Verjuice and am guilty of liberally adding it to almost everything I make. I find it brings so much to any dish.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write and very best wishes to you on your scummy food journey,

    Maggie Beer’s Farmshop
    Pheasant Farm Road

    P +61 (08) 85 62 4477
    F +61 (08) 85 62 4757
    visit us at

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