My fascination for baked goods in a jar came when I was living with my aunt and uncle while I finished out my last semester of college. When I wanted cake, I couldn’t exactly make a whole cake for just the three of us, assuming they wanted any, and making a single cupcake is somehow more laborious than making a whole batch. Color me lazy.
Anyway, I would make a few jarred cakes, stick them in the refrigerator and have cake whenever I wanted for a few weeks. I’d stumbled onto something life-changing. Listen to me. Cake. Whenever. I. Wanted.
And I wouldn’t feel bad for eating a whole jar if I felt like it, because I used the small canning jars. Fun size cake, people.
Anyway, here’s the deal. This is completely customizable. Make whatever cake tickles your fancy. You could easily make a rainbow cake for a birthday gift, and if you were so inclined, you could take the cake out, cut it in half and frost the middle, and stick it back in. Add chocolate chips, sprinkles, or emmy-emms (m&ms) if you’re not going to frost it, for some added sweetness.
So, I made this cake for The Englishman because I can’t be with him for his birthday, but still wanted to make him something sweet. He’s got a thing about Victorian Sponge cake (I’m American. What the effe is that?), so I found a recipe that looked yummy and rolled with it.
Grab whatever jars you want, just make sure the seal on the lid isn’t broken or disintegrating (in the desert, weird stuff happens in the heat). Pop them in some boiling water for about 10 minutes to sanitize them, and in the mean time, preheat the oven to whatever temperature your recipe calls for, and get to mixing up your ingredients.
Let your jars cool and dry out a bit with the opening down, so nothing sketchy creeps in, and after they’re cool, grease them and fill them up about half way.
I don’t know that you have to do this, but when I was learning how to make these I read that you should put your jars into an oven-safe dish (I use a pie dish) and add a quarter of an inch of water. This might keep the glass from shattering? I don’t really know, but I do it anyway and have never had any trouble.
I’d recommend setting your timer for whatever your recipe calls for, but checking on it 10-15 minutes before the time is up, and just keep an eye on it until it’s done.
If you haven’t already done so, sanitize your lids while your cake is baking.
After they’re finished, just take them out, pop your lids on, and when they start to cool you should hear a “ping” as the jars seal. If you don’t, in 20 or so minutes press down on the center. If it moves, they haven’t sealed, if it doesn’t, you’re good to go.
You’ll be left with something like this. Delicious, cake-y perfection.
As I’m planning to send mine halfway across the world, I left mine as they were, and just put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to send. If you are planning to give yours away (Or eat them. That’s encouraged.), instead of putting the lids on right away, let them cool, and frost as desired.
I did a little experiment. I baked one, sealed it, and left it out for a few days at room temperature, just to replicate what the mailing temperatures would be like. It was just as delicious as a freshly baked one. So, if you’re sending a cake to a loved one, I’d say they’re probably good for that long, but use your best judgment. And I’ll be the first to say that if there’s cake in my refrigerator, it’ll be gone in a few days, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much. You can also try to freeze them and see how they do in a few days or weeks, but I haven’t tried that so I can’t vouch for it.