Groaning Cake (Postpartum Muffins)


Our family is in the middle of a baby boom right now.

My sister and brother-in-law just welcomed their first baby into our family two weeks ago, she’s the sweetest little girl! She’s the first grand-baby in our family. My sister-in-law and brother will be welcoming their first baby around the middle of July!  I’ll be adding to the group around the beginning of August with our first baby as well!

Three babies in 11 weeks. And no, we didn’t plan it that way.  Life has a funny way about it sometimes but needless to say there are fun times ahead!

With all the babies arriving soon, you can very well imagine what most conversations revolve around.  Babies, babies, babies and everything to do with babies.  Since Tabitha and I are both dietitians, we talk about nutrition a lot too.  Nutrition during pregnancy, how to prevent stretch marks and prepare our bodies for birth, nutrition in breastfeeding….you get the idea.

One wonderful book that influenced my thoughts around birth is called The Birth House by Ami McKay.  It follows a young woman as she learned the skills needed as a midwife and serves the woman of a Nova Scotia town in the early 1900’s.  This was a pivotal time in midwifery history during which women were struggling to maintain control of their bodies with the advancement of modern medicine.

One of the traditions mentioned in this book is the “groaning cake”.  I’ve added the excerpt from the book below (see more here):

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…


If time allows during my early labour, I plan on making a groaning cake to eat before and after birth and to offer to my wonderful birth team.  I’ll also have some in the freezer ready to go if my plan doesn’t work out.

Of course I had to tweak the recipe to amp up the nutrition.  Let me tell you why it’s a good choice for pregnancy and postpartum:

  • Fiber – a pregnant and postpartum mom’s best friend.  I’ve added oat bran and flax seed to really pump this up. The grated apple helps with this as well.
  • Protein – 3 eggs and ground nuts make this higher in protein than typical muffin recipes.  This is important for development of your baby and also recovery after birth.
  • Iron – black strap molasses is a source of iron, helpful for preventing anemia in pregnancy and boosting iron stores after birth.  The orange juice helps you absorb this iron as well.
  • Oils – one effective way to help prevent stretch marks and tearing during birth is to boost the amount of healthy fats in your diet.  This improves the integrity of your skin to allow for better stretching.  These muffins are quite moist with oil both from the grape seed oil as well as the fats from the ground nuts.
  • Energy – during the last few months there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room left for the stomach but energy needs are high.  These muffins pack in a lot of energy and nutrition in a small package.  After birth these are a perfect snack to fill you up.


Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat bran, certified wheat free
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, wheat free
  • 1 cup gluten free flour mixture (such as this one)….or use regular flour if you don’t need to eat gluten free
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pecans, walnuts or other nuts, ground
  • 1 1/2 cup apple (around 2 apples worth), peeled and grated

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup black strap molasses
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar or honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare 2 9X5 inch loaf pans by lining with parchment paper or line 18 muffin tins.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Coarsely grind up nuts in the food processor, add into bowl. Grate apple or roughly chop in the food processor as well.  Add apple to the dry ingredients and mix to coat well.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, orange juice, molasses, sugar and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Mix until just moistened.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until set.
  5. As with any gluten free baking, if not eating that day, freeze in an airtight container until ready to eat.  Defrost on the counter for a couple hours.