Extra-Nourishing Groaning Cake

By Aube Giroux

This is a cake for new mothers, loosely adapted from the groaning cake recipe in The Birth House, Ami McKay's award-winning novel. Sweetened with honey and molasses, this nourishing cake contains grated carrots, zucchini and apples, as well as a special spice blend intended to encourage milk production.

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground fennel seed

1 tsp ground fenugreek

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup liquid honey

2 tbsp unsulphured molasses

4 large eggs, beaten until frothy

1/3 cup full-fat yogurt

1/3 cup whole milk

2 tbsp rum (optional)

1/2 cup loosely packed grated apple

1/2 cup loosely packed grated carrot

1/2 cup loosely packed grated zucchini

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

250 g (about 8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

3 tbsp pure maple syrup

Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seed, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, honey and molasses. Add the eggs, yogurt, milk and rum (if using) and whisk to combine well. Stir in the apple, carrot, zucchini, coconut and walnuts (if using).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold gently until just combined; do not over-mix. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake in a 350º F oven until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Place the cake on the rack to cool completely.

Using a stand mixer or handheld blender, blend together the cream cheese and maple syrup. Spread the frosting over the top of the completely cooled cake. Serve immediately. Keep unused portions refrigerated. (Note: If you're not planning to serve the cake within a few hours of making it, wait until just before serving to frost it, keeping the cake well wrapped and at room temperature, and the frosting refrigerated.)