My husband is a soldier deployed for the fourth time, this time to Afghanistan. He always appreciates the care packages his family and I send full of books, magazines, healthy snacks – and sometimes cake. Since I bake a cake a week, it would be a real shame not to share the goodies with the soldiers! Baking a jar cake is really simple, and a great way to send a special treat from home, made with love. They keep really well because the heat seals the jar so tightly and it lasts the week or two it takes for the care package to arrive where your loved one is deployed. Here is a handy guide on how to bake jar cakes to send to soldiers overseas.
Take the two pieces of the lid and the jar apart. Put the glass jar in a pot of hot water and bring it to boil over medium high heat on the stove. Boil the jar to sanitize it, then remove it carefully from the hot water with tongs to cool.
Step 2: Grease the Jar
Once the jar is completely cooled, spray the inside liberally with a non-stick spray like Pam or waxed paper with butter. This way the cake doesn’t stick to the edges of the jar too much and it’s easy for your soldier to eat your delicious cake!
Step 3: Fill the Jar with Cake Batter
After you’ve made your cake batter (use any of the cake recipes on this site for your cake batter – they won’t be disappointed!), fill the sanitized mason jar about halfway with cake batter. Don’t forget the cake will rise as it bakes, so remember to only fill the jar half full.
Step 4: Bake the Cake in the Jar
Bake your cake inside the jar according to the normal recipe instructions – including temperature. However, it is wise to start checking on the cake about 10 minutes before the normal done time. Sometimes the jar cakes bake a little faster than a full-size cake would. The best way to tell if it is done is to insert a toothpick or skewer tester in the center and make sure it comes out clean. Also, the top of the cake should spring back when lightly pressed.
Step 5: Sanitize the Jar Lids
Shortly before your cake finishes baking, boil the two parts of the mason jar lid just like you did the jar itself.
Step 6: Sealing the Jar
Make sure to use gloves so you don’t burn your hands on the jar! Pull your jar cake out of the oven. Run a clean, damp cloth around the rim of the jar to get rid of any crumbs or baked on cake. Screw the lid tightly onto the jar while it’s still hot.
Do not frost or decorate the cake. Pick a good, flavorful cake recipe and they won’t miss it, I promise. Some people send a store-bought container of frosting on the side. I have also baked pumpkin bread and other breads in jars, and it turned out fantastic. Let your jar cake cool and then ship it out as soon as possible! The sooner the jar cake gets there, the better. Your soldier can run a knife right around the edge of the cake and plop it out of the jar – or if you’re lazy like me, you can just eat the cake right of the jar.
Edit: One reader below said it might not be safe to bake breads and cakes in jars because the temperature doesn’t get high enough to guarantee baking off all potential bacteria. She linked to a white paper on the safety procedures that you should read. Mail takes about 1.5 to 2 weeks to get to my husband in Afghanistan and the cakes have been fine, but there appears to be some risk involved. If you do decide to go ahead and bake jar cakes, be sure to sanitize those jars and seal those lids tight, and advise your soldier to check them carefully before consuming!
Like this tutorial on how to bake mason jar cakes for deployed soldiers overseas? Check out (and share!) my tutorial on How to Bake, Pack & Ship Cookies to Deployed Soldiers Overseas in Care Packages.