General rule of thumb: don’t cook while you’re sick.
My whole Christmas plan this year included making everybody (whom I deemed worthy… lol) a Cake In A Jar.
Ace of Cakes was a show on the Food Network about 6 years ago that was one of my top 3 favorite shows produced by the Food Network. Pretty much, Duff Goldman (and his #2 Geof Manthorne) are the original kings of TV Cake and I love them. I bought the book. They made the coolest cakes and had some of the most talented artists. The show was all about their cakes, not about the personalities in the bakery. It was authentic and fantastic and I have all the seasons on DVD (no shame). I tried watching other shows like Cake Boss or whatnot, and nothing compares. Ace of Cakes being cancelled was the worst news of my Food TV life.
Since Ace of Cakes was cancelled, I’ve followed Duff on his social media just to see all of his cake stuff. Again, he’s the best.
Recently he was on Popsugar showing how to make one of his newer products, the Cake In A Jar. It’s a super cute video and you can watch it down below:
It looked so easy and so cute, so I bookmarked it with every intention of making these as Christmas gifts this year (back in August, when I watched this – I’m a perpetual future-planner.)
As Christmas rolled around, I got everything ready to go and then got the flu. Like, the worst flu. That flu that takes everything out of you, literally.
Sick people shouldn’t cook.
But, I have a Person. And her name is Kate. And she likes to make Cakes. And I call her Buttcakes. And she’s my Person. And she helped me make all these Cake In A Jars.
For the actual jars, I picked up just a case of 12 Pint Sized Mason Jars at Michael’s (I got them on sale for $12.99, but I believe they’re usually $15.99). I also picked up some Washi Tape, festive Ribbon Stickers and customizable labels. All of these you can purchase to your own liking – I just picked the red patterned ones because they were cute. At home I already had glitter, Elmer’s glue, colored sharpies and festive ribbon.
The best part about this project is that if you like to do crafty projects, you’ll probably have the majority of these things at home – you can even make your own labels with ties, you don’t have to buy them. Or you can simply decorate the jars in whatever fashion you’d like. It’s actually a fairly inexpensive gift to DIY.
On the labels, I just wrote “Merry Christmas” and drew a little tree. Then on the back I added some glitter accents – I just made little designs with the glue, dump a ton of glitter on top and waited for it to dry. 😀
On the jars, I put just a piece of Washi Tape all the way around, and stuck a little bow in the middle. The Washi Tape is great because you can put it on and it looks seamless since the tape is so thin. It also doesn’t take away from the look of the Mason Jar – I like the rustic look of Mason Jars, so the simplicity of the Washi Tape adds a little bit of fun without going overboard.
The ribbon stickers were also something I added to just highlight that it’s a Holiday gift. They’re not over the top or gaudy either, which again I chose just to keep everything looking simple.
The labels were just tied on to the top of the jar with a bit of ribbon or string I had from last year.
Each jar is actually different because the bow stickers came with various patterns in the package, and the string/ribbon came in combo pack of different patterns as well. It was one of those $1 aisle purchases at Target – you can find small packages of ribbon at Michael’s too. The ribbon itself is only like 2 feet long, with like 4 variations of ribbon, but since they’re for the circumference of the jar it was perfect for this particular project. It’s an easy way to vary the look of multiple jars, say if you’re giving multiple to a family, without having to go and buy 4 different Washi Tapes or whatever. Buying combo packs is the way to go for projects like these 🙂
Now, I 100% recommend decorating the jars after filling with frosting and cake. The frosting and cake can get a bit messy, as Kate and I experienced over this whole, first-time process. While the cakes are baking and cooling, there is enough time to make the frosting as well as make the labels so there’s enough time for the glue to dry, should you be doing this completely on your own.
If you’re doing this with another person, like I did, you can prep everything for the jars, but I’d still say wait until the jars are filled to decorate them. Just in case.
Now for the actual cake and frosting, I pulled two separate recipes. Then handed them to Kate, on a cryptically written post-it and said “welp, that’s it. Figure it out.” lol. The flu and I are not friends.
The cake recipe was taken straight from the Popsugar video:
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup multicolored sprinkles
- To make cake: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans (or 4 6-inch cake pans). In a medium-sized bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt, then whisk ingredients until well-combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar, and continue to cream for about 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, until thoroughly mixed, then mix in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to medium, and alternate between beating in milk and flour mixture in 1/3 increments. Mix in sprinkles until evenly incorporated.
- Divide batter equally between cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean. Let cakes sit for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack.
We doubled the recipe and had more than enough for 14 jars. Kate had 2 extra jars at her house which we filled, in addition to the 12 I brought over.
We also made some of the batter without the sprinkles, just because I have friends who don’t like funfetti cake (boooooooooooooooooo).
Also, if you make them into cupcakes, they’re easier at the end to cut into even sized disks and fit into the jar. The top of the cupcake you can actually cut off and then use as the last and top layer of cake in the jar.
The video calls for buttercream frosting but I wanted chocolate so instead, I thought, “why not make the most decadent mix of chocolate and cake ever” and told Kate “we’re making that chocolate trifle thing you made once.”
Here’s her blog post on that, and the actual recipe:
- 4 oz. DOVE® PROMISES® Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate,
- 16 pieces unwrapped
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Melt at 30 second intervals
until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
- Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cooled chocolate and mix well.
The rest of that recipe is in the link above, this is just what we used of it.
Kate added in the whipping cream to the chocolate mixture and it turned into a more mousse-y texture which was perfect.
At first we decided to double the recipe, then didn’t have enough. So Kate made another quadruple batch, which was a lot. And probably too much. But again, we filled 2 extra jars. With the chocolate, you just have to eyeball the amount you need. Luckily it’s a pretty straightforward recipe (as far as I can tell, Kate made it lol).
I randomly found a little piping bag at my house and brought it over, and I will say it’s probably the easiest in order to get the frosting into the jar, but find as large of a bag as you can because it’ll get messy otherwise. There was a good 10 minutes there where chocolate got everywhere. On Kate. I have dirty hand syndrome – I can’t handle dirty hands in the slightest. Obviously, cooking is an issue for me, like all the time. And gardening. But anyways, I was in charge of the cake. So I was basically chocolate free. Poor Kate. 😉
For the jars we made, I specifically cut off the crunchy crust parts of the cake (which totally defeats the purpose of what Duff says in the video, I know), because it just made for a better bite of cake. If you choose to use that part of the cake, then you’d have A LOT of cake left over. The part of the cake I used, I just cut into small pieces that were easy to fit into a jar.
Things that make putting the pieces flat into a jar easier:
- handle end of a butter knife
For the actual assembly of the jar (frosting, cake, frosting, cake, frosting sprinkles) I just followed the video.
The number of layers you put of each thing will depend on how big your jars are, how much frosting you use and how thick the cake layers are. We ended up doing 4 layers of cake.
The total time to decorate, bake and assemble with the two of us was about 4 hours. In the middle we also left to get more cream cheese. There’s a bit of down time as well with the waiting of the cakes to cool and for everything to set.
It’s for sure more fun with another person – especially another person that’s the best at baking.
Holiday DIYs are sort of the best because it’s 100% customizable to what you have available to you. Plus I think they’re fun. I like crafts and stuff. And again, it’s a total bonus that My Person likes baking.
I hope you guys all have a lovely holiday – and a lovely winter solstice! Happy shortest day of the year lol 🙂 It just means that every day is getting longer now, and that means more sunshine and more opportunities for great things.