Wednesday, May 18, 2011

military life wednesday: cake in a jar

I am always looking for random things to send Matt. Things that will cheer him up and make him think of me. When he left he told me "no bad food, healthy snacks only". No problemo. I am a healthy eater and surely I can find lots of good things to send him. Well, I caved. I made an executive decision: Matty needs comfort foods. A treat to enjoy when he is having a rough day. And home baked good would be absolutely perfect. Something that I spent time on, that he can enjoy and think of me. However, the mail isn't exactly reliable and I was afraid it would be green and moldy by the time it got to him.

Then my friend Samyjo told me about cake in a jar. You bake the cake in the jar and then seal it. It stays fresh for 6 months to a year. SOLD! So I looked up some recipes and finally settled on boxed cake (its just easier and I didn't want to go nuts on my first try). So I got yellow cake and red velvet. And I added some almond extract to the yellow cake to give it a little something extra. YUM! I also bought the packaged frosting (2 different kinds for variety) It was super easy to make and lots of fun.

note: the cake should be to the top. I didn't fill it high enough on the first attempt. :)

Then I decided I would get creative and make them look all pretty and fancy. So I hit up Joann's and Michael's and got fabric, ribbon, and festive paper:

They were a hit! I sent Matt one of each, I sent his Mom a red velvet for her birthday, and I kept one of the yellow for myself. They are a great gift idea for deployed soldiers, but you can also give them as gifts during the holidays. And if you get the smaller jars (I got the largest ones) the batter goes much further and you can give them away to a lot of people for very little money.

To make your own cake in a jar:

1. Make the cake batter according to the instructions or recipe.
2. Grease the jar by liberally spraying the inside with cooking spray.
3. Fill jar no more than 1/2 way with batter.

4. Place jars on a cookie sheet on the rack in the oven. Follow the box's baking instructions, checking with a toothpick or wood skewer to make sure they are done.
5. While baking, boil jar lids in a pan of water.
6. When cake is done, take a jar out at a time and cover with hot lid. Screw on the jar ring, tightening it slightly.
7. The lid will seal as it cools. Listen to hear the "ping" as they seal.
8. As the cake cools, it will pull away from the jar slightly. That's ok, it just means that it will slide out of the jar easily.
9. DO NOT FROST cake in the jar! Send frosting along.

10. After they have cooled, get creative! Decorate them and personalize them how you wish!
11. Make sure you wrap the jars well (bubble wrap is preferable, but wadded newspaper or clothing and other items will pad it too).

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