Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happy birthday in a jar!

My dear, sweet husband recently celebrated his 29th birthday... his third birthday in Afghanistan. With every birthday in the sandbox, comes a birthday without cake (something he misses a lot). So this year, with a bit of research and experimentation, I found a way to can up that sweet, celebratory starch and send it on it's way across oceans and deserts. My version is super-easy, and uses a boxed cake mix. Of course, you can get all Martha Stewart with it, and whip up your own cake recipe. Either way... Anyhow, several people asked me to share the secret, so here we go...

Start off by getting yourself some 4 oz. (you'll need about 24) or 8 oz. (You'll need about 12) wide-mouthed jars. You'll want the variety with the straight side so that the cakes will slide right out. Otherwise, if there's a mouth to the jar, you'll have to just settle for spooing it directly out of the jar into your mouth... which can be okay too. *wink* *wink*

Coat the insides of the jar with Baker's Joy. This stuff is great, if not sometimes hard to find. It's like flour and butter all in one convenient aerosol can. If you can't find it... go the old-fashioned way: butter and flour the jars by hand.

Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. Fill those jars up to about half-way full. Don't go more than that, or it will ooze over the edges of the jar while baking. The confetti cake happens to be B's favorite, and fortunately it makes for some pretty looking jars!



Arrange the jars on a baking sheet... just in case there's any over-flow. Pop them in the oven at the box's recommended temperature. I found that the 4 oz. jars take about 20 minutes to bake, and the 8 oz. ones about 30 minutes. But, I have a convection oven so, even with conversions, my times are often different than most other people's. You'll just want to check on your cakes frequently. I always keep long wooden skewers handy for BBQ'ing, and those are perfect for checkind doneness in the taller jars. Just insert one of the skewers into the center of the jar. Once it comes out clean, your cakes are done.

Now, here's where you have to make some decisions. Are your cakes traveling 3 days in the mail to someone a few states away? Are you taking them down the street for a neighbor's birthday party? Or are they being boxed up to be shipped thousands of miles away with no definitive delivery date? If you picked the latter, I recommend not icing your cakes. Instead, let them cool outside of the oven for 2-3 minutes. After that 2-3 minutes, immediately seal the jars. The remaining heat will actually create a seal to the lid. It will keep those cakes good long enough to reach their overseas destination, but isn't intended for long-term preservation. Throw in a tub of icing, some sprinkles, and a plastic knife with the box, and your recipient can ice their own cakes.

However, if an 8,000 mile trip to Afghanistan isn't in your cakes' future (and for presentation purposes here)... you can do the following:

Allow the cakes to cool completely in the jars. Once cool, slice off the muffin tops to the cakes so you have a smooth, clean top. I jiggle the cakes out of the jars a little ways because you'll actually want the tops of the cakes to sit about 3/4" from the top of the jar...



Now, it's time to make those cakes pretty. I take a tub of the whipped icing (it's easier to work with), and spoon it into a large Ziplock bag. Squeeze the icing into a bottom corner of the bag, and cut the tip off. Of course, if you have the forethought to actually purchase one, a pastry bag works just as well. Squeeze the icing, working in a circular pattern until the tops of your cakes are completely covered, and the icing is about 1/8" - 1/4" from the tops of the jars...



Add some rainbowliscious sprinkles...



Seal up your jars, and deliver some birthday wishes in a jar to someone you love!

18 comments:

Sara Berry said...

Holly, you are amazing. From someone whose husband is usually away for birthdays, THANK YOU for sharing this great recipe! Here's to hoping in 2010 they'll be home for theirs.
xoxo

LollyChops said...

This is awesome! I have had cake in a jar and it's sooo good! Thanks for the tut Holly!

Ginajam said...

If you can believe it, I've never seen these OR tried these! Yum! Gotta go buy a bunch of jars now :-) Can't wait to try em out!! Thanks for sharing.

Jocelyn said...

Holly you are amazing...how awesome is this!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe...I would love to try this out for my nephew who is in Iraq!!!!! Wishing you a wonderful day...sweet friend!! :-)

Callista said...

Holly, you always have the BEST ideas! I hope this is his last bday away from you and the kids!

deana said...

That is just adorable. Could be cute for a kid's birthday party, too. :-)

Hopefully the next time he has cake in a jar, it's with you & your kids... :-)

Melissa Mann said...

wow!! Great tutorial!!

Chris and Paige Evans said...

GENIUS! This is a great idea, I'm gonna forward it to friends I know with deployed husbands. Thanks for so much inspiration :)

Mel G said...

Happy Birthday to the hubs!! What a fun idea, the kids will love this. Thanks for sharing!

Marie said...

how very wonderful!!! So great my friend.

danilouwho said...

this is fantastic - such a great idea. I'll have to consider doing this for my brother in Korea... his bday is in February.

Michelle said...

OMG I love you! These look so yummy and delicious. I hope your hubby gets to enjoy loads of them. :D

redoaklines said...

o0o0o0o these look delicious!! thanks for sharing that.

and happy bday to your hubby!

hugs,
sarah.

Zarah said...

What a great idea!! TFS! :D

Noell-Hyman said...

You are a genius. I don't know where I found your blog but apparently I subscribed to it at some point and re-discovered you again from my blog reader. I think I'm going to try your Christmas wreath w/the flowers. But I just had to say this cake in a jar idea is brilliant.

Thanks for sharing.

Noell
Host, Paperclipping
www.paperclipping.com

iamahoneybee said...

Oh my gosh this is such a cute idea. I love it!!!

Nikki said...

This is a cute & awesome idea. I'll be making these for my kids as treats. They'll especially love the sprinkles and rainbow-colored cake mix.

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