Pregnant? You May Want to Make a Groaning Cake! {#Recipe}

I just recently finished reading The Birth House by Ami McKay. In the book she spoke of labouring women making Groaning Cake and I knew, even though I will never again be pregnant, that I had to give it a try!

Groaning Cake

“The tradition of the groaning cake, or kimbly at (or following) a birth is an ancient one. Wives’ tales say that the scent of a 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. Many cultures share similar traditions…a special dish, bread, or drink, spiced with cinnamon, all spice, and/or ginger. At one time there was even a “groaning ale” made to go with it…

I made groaning cake the day of my son’s home birth and my neighbour brought me “health bread” the day after the birth. This recipe is a combination of the two. It has apple, molasses, orange juice and spices and can really help to see a woman through a long labour, or give her strength after the birth!”  {Website:  Ami McKay, author of The Birth House}

I love to bake and wanted to try this recipe for Groaning Cake that was included with the book and also found on the author’s website, it sounded so good!  I made the cake and took it to our book club meeting the night we were discussing The Birth House.

I thought the cake was delicious!  It was a heavier type of cake and reminded me a bit of a carrot cake (minus the carrots…lol).  I decided to do cupcakes and found it made 15  good sized cakes.  I am not an almond extract fan so I omitted that, added chopped walnuts, cream cheese frosting and a grating of orange zest…YUMMY!!

Groaning Cake

The cake batter.

Groaning Cake

The Groaning Cakes are cooling and the house smells heavenly!!

Groaning Cake

The finished project all ready to box up and take to Book Club!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Groaning Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 ½ Cups Flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ Cup oil
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • ½ Cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ Cup molasses
  • ½ tsp. Ground cloves
  • 1⅓ Cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups apple (grated, no skin)
  • 1 tsp. Almond extract
  1. Sift dry ingredients together. Add apple. Beat eggs. Add oil, orange juice, molasses and sugar. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Add almond extract. Bake at 350 F. for 35-40 minutes. Makes two 9 X 5 loaves or about 18 muffins.
  2. Additions: raisins, dates, dried fruits, or nuts.



  1. The cupcakes look sooooooo good!!!! I wonder if I could substitute vanilla extract for the almond? Nut allergy.

  2. I loved that book. Have read it twice. Bet the groaning cakes were really good!

  3. How very interesting (the whole idea of the groaning cake)… No one made me one while I laboured with Mr almost 9lbs. Lord knows I could have used the ‘strength’ it is said to provide:)

  4. I’m Assyrian and we also have a tradtional food for pregnant and new moms. It is also believed to give new moms energy and nutrition. Only problem, it was gross. It was more of a savory pudding, that in my very pregnant state, grossed me out. This recipe looks soooo much better than the stuff i chocked down, 17 years ago.


  1. […] You may want to check out this recipe for GROANING CAKE which was featured in the […]

  2. […] If you would like to make a Groaning Cake you can find the recipe HERE. […]

  3. Grunting and groaning: descriptions of pregnancy | Joanne Bailey Muses on History says:

    […] the early modern period that it lent its name to groaning-beer, groaning-cheese and groaning-cakes (recipes still circulated today!): beverage and food served during labour if not for the mother then at least […]

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