Home Made Christmas Gifts - Cakes in a Jar

If you have any elderly people, college students, busy couples or singles on your Christmas list, this is a really neat and appreciated home made gift. The cakes are great for small families or singles because they are made in a wide mouth pint jar with straight sides. Each jar will hold one to three servings depending on appetites and how they are served. They seal completely and have a shelf life over a year.

Any cake recipe that makes a heavier cake, brownies, or quick bread will work just fine. They can have nuts, dried or candied fruits, coconut, or other added-ins with no problems. Lighter cakes and many of the cake mix cakes are not suited to baking in a jar because they will fall when sealed.

Good choices include gingerbread, banana nut bread, caramel nut cake, fruitcake, carrot cake, pound cake, pumpkin bread, and pineapple coconut cake. You can try anything you wish.

Start by preparing six to eight wide mouth pint jars with straight sides by washing them and greasing the sides lightly on the inside. Boil the flats (the flat part of the lid) to be sure that they are sanitary. The rings may be reused but the flats must be new each time.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while you prepare your cake batter according to the recipe directions. Do not double the batch because it will make too many to bake properly at one time.

When the batter is ready and the oven is preheated, place the jars on a cookie sheet and fill slightly over 1/2 full with batter. You can bake a single jar the first time to make sure that the cake fills the jar without interfering with the lid when it rises. Mark the amount used on the recipe for the next time. Wipe the top of the jar to be sure that none of the batter is on the edge where it must seal. Place the jars in the oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Be sure that there is space between the jars for the heat to circulate. You can test them for doneness by inserting a skewer into the center similar to using a toothpick in a regular cake.

When they are done, take the jars out of the oven one at a time so that they stay hot while you are working with them. Put a flat on the jar and screw it on securely with a ring. Use an oven mitt, they will be hot and you cannot let them cool before putting the lid on. Do not worry about moisture on the lid because it will be absorbed into the cake with the steam and give you a nice moist product. Continue until all jars have lids.

Set the jars on a cutting board or counter top leaving breathing room around them while they cool. You should hear pinging noises as they seal. When they are completely cool, gently press on the tops to be sure that they are sealed. If any do not seal put them in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

To serve you can simply open them up and they should slide easily from the jar. What you have is a cylinder of cake that can be sliced and eaten as is or topped with ice cream, fruits, sauces, icing, whipping cream, or an endless number of other toppings.

These cakes are supposed to keep for a year or more in the jar but chances are very good they will be gone long before that. Don't be surprised if you get the jars back for refills.

You can decorate the jars and/or the lids and add personal touches. They also make a nice gift basket with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and other go withs. Use your imagination and have fun with this project.

author: Virgilene Goodrich

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