Baking an entire cake is often more trouble than it’s worth. It takes several hours of painstaking care to craft anything taller than one layer, and there’s always the possibility of a catastrophic collapse in the oven. Plus, once the cake is made, there’s the issue of finding enough people to finish it. A little bit goes a long way with such dense foods and they are rarely eaten entirely. All of these problems can be solved using an incredibly popular new trend: baking cakes in a jar.

These delicious treats are made with basic cake recipes, but they are far more practical. They make excellent gifts for Christmas, birthdays or as part of a care package. Cooking them is easy, and in the end you are left with a perfectly portioned and attractive cake that can be transported or shipped with ease.

Which Cakes Work Best?

Most cake recipes will work well in a jar, but not all. Any recipe that doesn’t use flour, for example, will be difficult to pull off. Angel food cakes can also present difficulties but come out beautifully when done right. Use a cake mix or make everything from scratch, depending on your personal preferences. One popular type of cake in a jar is a rainbow cake, which is layered with many different colors to turn a baked good into a work of art. Other common cake types include chocolate and red velvet, and even vanilla can be exciting with some frosting and toppings.

Choosing the Supplies

Most of these cakes are baked in a standard canning jar, approximately one pint, but there are no limitations. Smaller jars make cute presents or single-serving meals, whereas regular jars can be enjoyed by the whole family. Besides the jar, you will also need your ingredients and cooking spray or wax. Preheat the oven before you begin and have any decorations on hand for afterward. Also double check that you have every necessary ingredient before beginning.

Mixing

Depending on which cake you are baking, the mixing process can be very fast or take over half an hour. A chocolate cake mix will be ready to pour in mere minutes, whereas a rainbow cake must be carefully dyed and poured in layers. Do not overfill jars unless you intend to use them on the same day, served without a lid. In that case, pour the batter so that the jar is three-quarters full prior to baking. If you plan to use a lid, do not fill it past the halfway mark. The cake will expand considerably as it bakes, giving it that light and fluffy texture that people prize so much.

Baking

Before pouring in the cake, coat the interior with a non-stick spray or grease so that the batter will not stick to the sides. Place the jars, open, in the oven and bake as directed by your recipe. They tend to cook more quickly than regular cakes, however, so check up on them regularly. The normal cake-checking methods, such as sticking in a toothpick to see if it comes out clean, apply.

Toppings and Creative Ideas

Once the cake is out, you can choose to either leave it plain or decorate it and its jar. Icing provides flavor variation, while sprinkles add a dash of color. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar or glue colorful beads to the exterior. The cake will keep several days if refrigerated, longer if the jar lid is sealed. To seal the lid, heat it up and sterilize both it and the top of the jar. Place the lid on immediately afterward. If the seal takes, it will pop and the lid will not bounce when pushed.

As your experience making cakes in jars grows, feel free to begin experimenting! Make brownies in a jar and come up with new, creative cakes. Insert peanut butter cups at the center of chocolate batter, play with dyes, make s’mores in a jar or bake pumpkin cakes for a Halloween party. There are no limits to what you can create with these versatile and delicious little desserts.

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