The Birth House & Recipe for 'Groaning Cake'

I love reading, I love baking, and I love birthy things. So this is a triple win. 

The Birth House
By Ami McKay

The Birth House is a beautiful, magical little book about a young midwives' apprentice in Nova Scotia in the early 1900's who fights to protect birthing traditions and women's wisdom. It's an absolutely lovely read. 

In the pages there is mention of something called 'groaning cake'. Groaning cake is an old english tradition where you bake the hearty cake early on during labour, and it's said to help ease the mother's pain. Some say if the mother breaks the eggs during a contraction, labour won't last as long. I love a good old wive's tale. 

You're generally supposed to eat the cake after the baby has been born, and share it with family and friends (for prosperity!). Though you can have it while you're in labour as well, as it's very important to eat and hydrate to keep your energy up.


Many cultures have similar traditions of making certain foods to help with labour and I think that is such a sweet idea. After the marathon of birth, women need to be pampered and taken good care of. Nourishing foods is an excellent way to accomplish this!

After my mama's give birth I usually bring them banana bread, or some kind of muffins, but I have a feeling that I'll be making a groaning cake the next time...


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.