After sending some vacuum-sealed baked goods to my sister who is currently serving in Afghanistan only to find out that they arrived 3 weeks later, with mold, I discovered that you could bake cakes in Mason jars and that they would essentially be preserved (due to the sealing of the jars). Read here for my first attempt. My sister did receive the first cake-in-a-jar that I attempted. I mailed the first batch of pineapple cake on October 5. She told me that she opened the jars and ate the cake on October 23, almost 3 weeks later—and they were fresh! So I asked her if she had any requests for the next batch and she said since they don’t have a lot of access to fresh produce and fruit that she would like zucchini bread. So, here is my attempt with zucchini bread in a jar.
8-10 pint canning jars (or the equivalent in a larger size) with rings and new lids (I only had 6, so I used these and then made a separate mini loaf.)
3 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
2 c zucchini (~1 medium zucchini)
2 c granulated sugar
1 c margarine—at room temperature (I used 1 stick of butter (1/2 c) and then 1/2 c of applesauce
1 t vanilla
3 egg whites—whipped
1. Boil jars, lids and rings for 10 minutes. Dry jars. Leave rings and lids in hot water while preparing the batter.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in one bowl.
4. Grate zucchini. I used the Vitamix to grate my zucchini. I put the lid on the Vitamix and removed the plug. Turned the Vitamix on to Speed 5-6 and put in the large pieces of zucchini. Wah-lah…grated zucchini with no bloody knuckles.
5. In another bowl, mix zucchini, egg whites, sugar, margarine. (I know, it looks gross.)
6. Using a hand mixer, mix zucchini mixture with flour mixture for 1-2 minutes, or until well combined.
7. Grease insides of jars with cooking spray.
8. Divide batter among jars, filling up only 1/2 way. Wipe any excess from tops of jars.
9. Place jars on cookie sheet/jelly roll pan and bake for 40 minutes.
10. Right before it’s time to remove the cakes from the oven, dry rings and lids. Set aside.
11. Remove jars from oven. If you filled your jars to high and the cake came out of the jar, no worries. (I just used the lid and ring to squish it down.) Wearing oven mitts, carefully place lid on jar and screw rings on. Take caution as jars are super HOT.
12. As the cakes cool, you will hear the seal as the button on the jar is “sucked” down. Once the button on the jar lid, no longer pops when pushed, the jar is sufficiently sealed.
For my first cake-in-a-jar attempt, I send all of them to my sister and her hubby except for one. I kept one so that I could try it after a few weeks to see just how “fresh” it tasted. Check back tomorrow for a post on opening and tasting the cake.
If you want to make these as gifts, after the jars cool, unscrew the lid and place a few cotton balls on the top of the lid (to make it poofy). Then place a piece of cloth (about 3 inches larger than the lid) on the top and screw the lid back on.
Disclaimer: Some websites have warned about food safety issues with storing cake-in-a-jar for long periods of time. If you are pregnant or may have a weakened immune system, you might not want to consume these after they have been stored for a while. Better safe than sorry as my dad says.