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CAKE IN A JAR
Ever baked cakes in canning jars? It's neat! ANY quick bread-type cake can be baked in canning jars.
fill ONE jar 1/2 full then bake it to see how high it rises, then go from there. You don't want the cake to come out of the top of the jar, only to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the lip of the jar. Write it down on your recipe (how far you filled the jars)! Once you've established how high the cake rises, you can go from there.
The first time around is a bit tricky because you won't know how many jars you'll need. MOST of the recipes I've tried I end up using around 8. Sterilize as many jars as you think you'll need and go from there. Make sure your LIDS are new, the rings don't have to be As the jars do seal, the cakes are as moist as the day you put them into the jars--sometimes MORE SO.
The baking times will vary -- the moistness of each cake recipe will determine the time. MOST of the recipes I've tried bake in 35-40 minutes. Start checking the cakes at 25- 30 minutes and go from there.
YES, the cakes DO slide easily out of the jars IF you use the jars I've listed. They're Ball 12-oz Quilted Crystal Canning Jars (#14400-81400).
They can be found at most grocery stores (at least here in California) next to the pectin and other canning supplies. Also, I've seen the 12 oz straight-sided (plain) jars (# ?) at Smart & Final. The plain jars work fine too but they're not as pretty and you have to make your own labels--the jars I use come with decorative labels. One IMPORTANT tip--get your jars NOW! Once summer's over with they're very hard to find. Also, when you can, ask for the jars back, they're NOT cheap. Most folks don't mind returning them though, they usually want refills!
There will be a little condensation on the lids and some in the jars so when you seal them it's trapped inside. Don't worry about getting the water off of the lids before placing them onto the jars, the added moisture doesn't hurt the cakes in the slightest. Quick bread-type cakes work best, I've found that lighter cakes tend to fall when the jars seal.
I'm trying to address every question that's been asked of me before, I HOPE I've done that. If I've missed anything or if anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask. These make WONDERFUL Christmas gifts and you cn start NOW! Single friends really appreciate these because each jar makes enough for one or two people. I'll post the recipes I've made in my next notes. Try them, they're FUN and delicious to boot! Be right back with a few more tips...
Several folks have asked me how long the cakes can be safely stored...I'm not sure. The longest I've been able to keep them (without getting eaten) is 6 months. The jars DO seal, just like any canned good. You don't have to refrigerate the jars, just keep them in a COOL, dark, dry place. I've only had 6 jars go bad on me and that was my fault...put them in a cupboard that got too hot and the seals broke. I now check the jars at least once a week by pushing down on the lid (in the middle); if the lid moves up and down, that means the seal has broken. If you've checked the jars frequently, more than likely they're safe to eat; otherwise, toss the cake. I've been making cakes in canning jars for over 3 years and haven't poisoned anyone so far.:) If you give the jars away, be sure to tell the person to check the jar periodically (if they plan on storing it for any length of time).
Not only are the cakes tasty, they're very pretty to decorate. A hot glue gun is INVALUABLE! You cn glue on dried flowers, ribbons, dough-art ...you name it, it can be glued onto the lid, ring and side of the jar. I usually cut out a piece of cloth (about 3 inches larger in circumference than the lid), using pinking shears (so the cloth doesn't unravel), place a wad of cotton or batting in the center of the lid (take the ring off -- the jar lid should be sealed by now), then place the piece of cloth on top and replace the ring. Decorate to your heart's desire!
There are probably a few more tips I've forgotten...if anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Don't limit yourself to the recipes I've given you...ANY quick-bread type cake cn be baked in canning jars. Lighter cakes tend to fall once the jar seals.
Linda/BDT Burbank, CA (USA)