Baby days: ‘Groaning Cake’


These are exciting days as we eagerly anticipate the call that labour’s begun for the newest grandbaby. I feel as though I, too, have been nesting as I’ve been gathering things for the birthing day, excitedly anticipating, along with our son and daughter-in-law, the birth of this little one.

Kate and I were talking the other day about things she’s still needing for the upcoming birthing day… and she mentioned Groaning Cake.  I’d not heard of the cake by that name, specifically, but it sounded a lot like ‘energy muffins‘ I’ve made for labouring and beyond.  After a brief search, I found the recipe and saw that the ingredients were quite similar.  So, in the next couple of days I’ve be preparing Groaning Cake for Kate.

This, from Ami McKay’s The Birth House, “The tradition of a groaning cake, or kimbly, at birth is an ancient one. Wives’ tales say that the scent of the groaning cake being baked in the birth house helps to ease the mother’s pain. Some say if a mother breaks the eggs while she’s aching, her labour won’t last as long. Others say that if a family wants prosperity and fertility, the father must pass pieces of the cake to friends and family the first time the mother and baby are “churched” (or the first time they go to a public gathering) after a birth.”

Groaning Cake

Aube GirouxKitchen Vignettes

  • 3 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tps salt
  • Spice mix: 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp ground fennel seeds, 1 tsp ground fenugreek)
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp rum (optional)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated apple (loose, not packed in)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot (loose, not packed in)
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini (loose, not packed in)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • For the cream cheese icing:
  • 1 x 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spice mix, and walnuts (if using).
  2. Put the butter in a medium metal bowl and place it in the hot oven until it begins to melt a bit. Remove from the oven. Add the honey and molasses and whisk until blended. Add the rum and mix well, until heavy and silky.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the yoghurt, milk, grated apple, grated carrot, grated zucchini, and coconut. Add this to the honey-butter mixture and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold gently, until the batter is homogeneous. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Pour into an oiled and floured 10-inch springform cake pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes in a 350F oven. The cake is done when the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cake should be cooled for about 10 minutes in the pan, and then removed from the pan to continue cooling on a rack.
  5. To make the frosting, blend the room temperature cream cheese and maple syrup, using a hand blender or electric mixer. Refrigerate until cake has cooled. Once the cake has cooled, butter the frosting on top of the cake. Slice and serve.
  6. This cake can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum and kept for 1 to 2 days at room temperature. The cream cheese icing should be kept in the fridge until ready to use.

Thanks for reading today, by the way! Hope your day’s a happy one! ♥

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