The Groaning Cake - Spiced Apple Cake

At this time of year when delicious local apples are in abundance the Groaning cake is the perfect dessert. This spiced apple cake is a traditional "birth" cake, hence the name. 

The customs surrounding the history of the Groaning cake are different around the world. In some cultures the Groaning cake was baked by women in early labour to pass the time. In other areas the cake was made by friends and family and brought to the woman as a gift. Either way the cake is intended to provide the postpartum mother with a delicious treat that has some good sources of energy, healthy fats, iron, fibre & immune boosters.

The combination of honey, coconut oil, molasses, whole grains, fruit & spices is really incredible. You can leave the cake bare (more like a loaf) or you can add a simple vanilla glaze, cream cheese frosting, or dust with powdered sugar. As an avid hater of cream cheese frosting, I refuse to ruin this beautiful cake with it, but others assure me it's a great combo. My husband is a cream cheese frosting lover and says I ruin it for everyone. Good thing I'm the baker in the house ;)

I make this cake for the final class in my 4-week prenatal class series as a little graduation treat and the parents always love it. If you've got some apples laying around give this one a try. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Also a great gift for a new family in their early days postpartum. 


- Carolyn 

The Groaning Cake


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled grated apple
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup black strap molasses
  • 1 cup honey or alternative sweetener
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit or chopped nuts optional
  • Cream cheese or vanilla icing optional or dust with powdered sugar


  1. Heat oven to 350 with rack in middle of oven
  2. Lightly grease pan (bundt pan, two 9x5 loaf pans or two standard size muffin pans)
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & ground cloves in a large bowl. Stir in grated apple (and any dried fruit or nuts) and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs & add oil, orange juice, orange zest, molasses, honey & vanilla.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients & mix well.
  6. Scrape into prepared pan & bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean ~20-25 mins for muffins, ~30-40 mins for loaves & ~40-50 mins for bundt cake.
  7. Cool in pan for 10-15 mins, then invert onto wire rack & cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze to enjoy later.