A little while back, a friend asked me to make her a "Groaning Cake" and she sent me a recipe. My first thought was "What the heck is a Groaning Cake?" Then I thought "Sure, its cake!" I'll make cake on the flimsiest of excuses. My friend wanted the cake for one of her friends, who was about to give birth. The cake itself is full of nutritious foods and spices meant to help a new mother with recovery after childbirth and to aid her body with breast-feeding. An herb that is a breast-feeding mother's best friend, fenugreek, is one of the spices included at the recipe.
I have to admit, when I first looked at the list of ingredients, I was a little put off by the variety of flavors included. But, I was also intrigued, so I decided to do a little research. It turns out that originally a "Groaning Cake" was made by the laboring mother to serve to her guests that came to her home to assist her with giving birth. Smelling the cinnamon based cake baking in her home was supposed to ease labor pains and make the whole event finish quicker. There was also "groaning beer" to be served along with it. So, the woman giving birth made a cake and served her friends - while in labor. Well, that explains the name at least.
Being a mother of two, myself, I'm not sure that smelling a cake in the oven would have eased my labor, but I guess I'll never know. It is cake after-all and cake can do some amazing things. I am beyond glad that I wasn't expected to serve cake during the whole event, that would have been – ugh – awful.
I let my assistant help me make this one, she is getting really good at cracking eggs, especially for a three year-old.
Anyway, nowadays this cake – which I will now call a "New Mom Cake" - is given to Moms as a gift after they give birth. Like I said earlier – it is full of some really healthy food – all in the disguise of delicious cake. The variety of ingredients is a bit overwhelming, but it really does gel into a moist, delicious cake. I would describe it as a cross between a carrot cake and zucchini bread. I can see how not only would this cake be great to snack on for the sleep deprived parents, but also very appropriate to serve to any of the many guests that may come to see the new baby and "help". (Just kidding, Mom.You were amazing – really.)
I did make a few changes to the original recipe that my friend sent me. The biggest change being that I made it a two-layer cake with standard 8" cake pans rather than a 10" spring form pan for a single layer. It feels more celebratory that way and well, I didn't have a large spring form pan. Besides, having two layers gives me an excuse to put frosting between the layers. :) It's prettier too and since it is a gift, presentation is important.
A warning: this cake has quite a few ingredients and some of them are harder to come by. Spelt flour, ground fennel seeds, and ground fenugreek can usually be found in a Natural Foods Store if you can't find them in your local supermarket. I ended up grinding my own fennel seeds instead of purchasing ground. Also, I passed on adding the rum because my friend asked me to omit it – but feel free to include it if you want.
Hope you enjoy this cake. I'm thinking of also adapting the recipe to make whoopie pies, the easier the better for a new mom.
"Groaning" Cake/New Mom Cake
Cake for new moms, loaded with healthy foods great for postpartum care. Adapted from Aube Giroux of the Kitchen Vignettes.
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) spelt flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temp)
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- 4 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp rum (optional)
- 1/3 cup whole milk greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated apple (loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup grated carrot (loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup grated zucchini (loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts - divided (optional)
- 1 8oz package cream cheese (room temp)
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Grease two 8" cake pans with pan grease (or butter and flour), line the bottoms with parchment and grease parchment.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
4. In a seperate mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and molasses and beat until fully incorporated. It will look almost like caramel. If using rum, add here and mix well.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping between additions. Add yogurt, milk, and grated coconut. Give the grated zucchini, grated apple, and grated carrot a squeeze to release any excess water and then add them to the mixture and mix well.
6. Add the flour/spice mixture to the wet mixture in two additions, fold gently until the flour is just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Add 1/2 cup of walnuts and fold in, reserving 1/4 cup to decorate the top.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake for 33 to 35 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before turning them out to cool completely.
8. While the cakes cool, make the icing. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the room temperature cream cheese until smooth. Add the maple syrup and the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
9. Once the cakes are completely cool, trim the top of the bottom layer so it is flat and cover with half of the cream cheese icing. Lay the second layer on top and cover just the top with remaining icing. (You could cover the whole cake if you wanted, but you would need to make more icing). Sprinkle the remaining chopped walnuts around the top edge of the cake. Slice and serve.
Once frosted, this cake will keep covered in the fridge for about a week. The cake can be make ahead, wrapped in plastic, and kept for 1 to 2 days at room temperature. The cream cheese icing should be kept in the fridge until ready to use.