With the holidays approaching, you may want to send baked goods to a deployed service member. But what will keep? Years ago, when looking for something I could send for a coworker’s brother who was deployed in Iraq, I found the answer: cake in a jar. It was a hit with her brother and his buddies. So, I thought now would be a good time to pass the recipe along.
I originally found this recipe in 2007 on Operation Mail From Home’s Troops Wish List . It was posted anonymously and with side comments by the poster, so I’m not sure who came up with the idea to be able to properly credit it beyond where I found it. Because it’s pretty far down the page, and I wanted to be able to change the wording and add the way I did things, I’m going to post an altered version here. If you’d like to see the original post, click the link above and scroll until you see “A really neat way to send a cake and it stays fresh!! They love this!!!!!!!!!”
Cake in a Jar
Get 8 pint size (16.oz) wide-mouth canning jars with lids and rings. I found mine at Walmart, but you can find them elsewhere as well. Boil the jars to sterilize them before beginning.
Pick a cake mix/recipe. You can use any 18.25 oz packaged cake mix, or a cake recipe of your choosing. The one I used was a chocolate Betty Crocker mix. For the holidays, you may want to try red velvet, cinnamon streusel, or gingerbread.
1. Make the cake batter according to the package instructions or recipe.
2. Grease the jar.
3. Before you make all of the jars, you might want to make one to see how far you need to fill the jar. The original recipe said to use 1 cup of batter. The poster said she fills the jar halfway. If I recall correctly, I used a cup each and then tried to evenly distribute the leftover batter among the jars. Make sure you keep the rims of the jars clean.
4. Place the jars on a cookie sheet on the oven rack so they don’t tip over. Bake them for 30-35 minutes at the temperature recommended by your recipe, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. While your cakes are baking, boil the jar lids (rings too if you like) in a pot of water.
6. When the cakes are done, take one jar out at a time and cover it with the hot lid. While the original poster didn’t mention it, I recommend using tongs to do this. If a jar is a little overfilled, mash the lid on top and screw the ring down. It will still seal fine. Then screw on the jar ring, tightening it slightly.
7. The lids will seal as they cool and will usually “ping” when they seal. If you don’t hear a “ping” wait until the lid is completely cool and press the top of it. If it doesn’t move at all, it’s sealed.
8. As the cake cools, it will pull away from the jar slightly. That’s okay. It just means that it will slide out of the jar easily.
9. These should last sealed and unrefrigerated for a long time. The ones I made took awhile to get to Iraq and they were still fresh. But if you have leftovers and want to freeze them, you can do so. If you want to make some for home and don’t want to use the sealing process on the jars, they can be stored in the fridge and eaten within two weeks.
10. Do not frost the cake in the jar! You can send a sealed frosting container along on the side. The frosting I sent melted, and the guys used it more as a glaze. Therefore, I recommend putting the frosting jar in a Ziploc bag and picking a flavor like vanilla or caramel that will make a good glaze if it does melt.
11. Make sure you wrap the jars well. Bubble wrap is best, but you can also use newspaper or clothing. I was able to fit several into one of the large USPS flat rate boxes which currently ship for
$13.45 $14.85 $15.90 to APO/FPO addresses. Make sure you also include plastic forks and a knife for the frosting. If you want, you can send instructions for how to get them out (unseal, tap gently, pour out). They can be eaten directly out of the jar though, which is what the guys who received mine did. My former coworker said that her brother and his buddies really enjoyed them. I hope anyone you might make them for will as well!