Groaning Cake

In a book club meeting, we discussed The Birth House, by Ami McKay. We ate groaning cake, talked about birth, the medicalization of women's bodies at this most natural time, history, social change, and our own lives. We were strengthened by the stories of these women at the turn of the century in Canada, their sisterhood, and the quiet yet bold way in which they kept their commmunity together. I hope you read this book.

The tradition of the groaning cake at 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 goes to a public gathering.

2 1/2 cups flour
3 eggs
2 t. baking powder
1/2 cup oil
1 t. baking soda
1/2 cup orange juice
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 t. ground cloves
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups grated apple
1 t. 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 350F. for 35-40 minutes. Makes two 9x5 loaves or 18 muffins.