Okay, so maybe you read about the jar cake obsession over at Amy’s. It’s like a whole new world of endless possibilities just opened up in front of us, and both of us kind of lost our minds over it. Amy went so far as to deny her husband a jar cake because he committed the sin of not being excited enough about them, and I, well, I drove way out, in the dark, to some guy’s garage to buy a box of jars (hey, he was on Craig’s List, so it seemed legitimate).
So, today I made my second batch of jar cakes. The first time I doctored up a chocolate cake mix and used a chocolate mocha frosting. Not bad. The box cake ensures moistness, which is good. Now, the dilemma is between the cute little 1/2-pint wide mouth jars and the 1-pint jars. The 1/2 pints are cute, but they are small. You can really only fill them about a third full with batter if you still want room for frosting. Amy decided to skip frosting and stick with denser cakes. I, on the other hand, don’t really think cake is worth eating if there ain’t no frosting, so I chose to experiment with frosting and larger jars.
This time I went for red velvet cake. Mmmmm, red velvet cake. I filled the pint-sized jars about a third full of batter. I baked them at 325 F because I read somewhere that the jars might explode if you bake them at higher temps. They took about 35-40 minutes.
Now here’s the fun part.
I would like to report that these are delicious, but I can’t, since I haven’t sampled one yet. I do, however, highly encourage all of you to give these jar cakes a try. They are fun, novel, and make nice gifts. I plan to wrap mine in cute dish towels.
Read on for the recipe …
RED VELVET CAKE (note: I have several recipes for Red Velvet Cake. I decided to use the one that calls for all-purpose flour rather than cake flour because I wanted a cake that would be sturdy enough to core and jam full of frosting)
Makes 6 pint-sized jars plus one 1/2-pint jar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar (I had neither so I used white vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red food coloring gel/paste or 2 tablespoons liquid coloring
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour clean jars (I just sprayed with Baker’s Joy). Set the jars on a Silpat-lined baking sheet.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. In a glass measuring cup, mix the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring. Set aside.
In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the butter in a medium bowl until cream and light, about 1 minute. Add the sugar gradually and beat until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour in three additions on low speed, alternating with two additions of the liquid mixture (so, begin and end with the flour mixture).
Fill each jar about a third full of batter.
Bake about 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Remove the jars from the baking sheet and place the jars on a cooling rack to cool. Now make the frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 box (8 ounce package) cream cheese, softened at room temp
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer until fluffy and smooth. Add vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the powdered sugar until smooth.
Fill a pastry bag with frosting. Use a large tip. Use an apple corer or knife to cut out a core from the center of each cake. Discard or eat the cores. Fill the hollowed out core with frosting and frost the top of each cake. Place lids on jars (if you do this when the cakes are still hot, you might be able to get a seal on the jars, which means the cakes will keep a bit longer. But really, since you’re using cream cheese frosting, it’s not like the cakes are going to keep forever).