Recipe for The Groaning Cake

I found this yummy recipe for “groaning cake” by Ami McKay, author of The Birth House.

It can really help to see a woman through a long labour or give her strength after the birth!”

Traditionally, groaning cake would have been baked by the midwife, or sometimes (more often now) by the woman in labour.  The aroma of the cake baking was supposed to fill the home and ease the mother’s groaning.  It helps pass the time in early labour, and get your mind off the contractions which are only just starting.

If you have a recipe like this that you would like to share, email me at, and I will happily add it to the blog.

Recipe for The Groaning Cake

Try baking Groaning Cake, it’s a delicious treat for new mothers, for book club gatherings, or just tea with friends. (If you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share, send it along, I’ll be posting more Birth House inspired recipes here in the future!)

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!

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
1 1/3 Cups sugar
1 ½ cups apple (grated, no skin)
1 tsp. Almond extract

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.

Additions: raisins, dates, dried fruits, or nuts.

From – thanks!

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