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DIY Cake-in-a-Jar Favors

I'm all about edible favors at a wedding. Everything else just seems sort of....well, lame. If you want my opinion (and if you don't, stop reading) the following favors are the lamest of lame:

1. Anything with the couple's name and/or wedding date on it. Even if the item is remotely cute, I will not use it if it's got YOUR stuff on it. Ever. I mean, my OOT bags had our names and wedding date on it and  I don't use them (even though I should use them on grocery days). I was totally expecting people to throw them out (which is why I spent like zero dollars on them). I think my mom uses her OOT bag for toting books and knitting and stuff, but she's my MOM. Mom's are the exception to the lame favor rule.

2. A candle of any sort. Candles don't transport easily and people are sensitive to the stinky ones (yours truly had eyeballs that went bonky-bananas at the bridal shower this weekend where they had scented candles burning). And candles have seen their heyday, it's time to move on, folks.

3. Anything that looks like this:  

Just don't do it. You'll see them left over on your tables and wonder why you bothered. So will your guests. The best favors are the edible ones, I promise. At our wedding I saw people with mutiple boxes in their hands as they were leaving our wedding. I wondered to myself, "Holy cow! Is Kathy stealing cookie favors from other guests?" And I answered myself too, "You snooze, you lose. Wedding favors are fair game if you leave them unattended."

Now, I loved baking my cookies for our favors. It was a team effort between me, my MOH and my mom and it did take a lot longer than expected, so expect that if you're heading into the kitchen. For me, I'd make these cookies a bazillion and one times so knew the recipe inside and out. However, I'd never made them en masse before and it was that part that was challenging. Plan for challenges.

So now onto the DIY part of this here post: Cake-in-a-Jar favors. Turns out it's not as hard as you think. I've been researching a shit-ton of these recipes and how-to's and it seems fairly straightforward, although there are many, many arguments as to how long these little suckers actually last. To be on the safe side, I'd say make these up to a week in advance and you're good to go. Anything longer and you might kill your guests with botulism (safety first!).

Cake-in-a-Jar (via Suite101, adapted ever so slightly by me)

You will need:

  • Cake mix of choice
  • Mason Jars and lids (You can use either the pint size or the 1/2 pint size. To save on cashola, go for the 1/2 pint size. They are way cuter too!) I found the best price here for $.75 a piece. 
  • Frosting
  • Ziploc bags or pastry bags with tips
For the prep:
  1. Wash and dry the jars and lids. It's best to do this in a dishwasher where the water and drying are super hot. It helps sterilize the jars.  Put the lids in a pot of water and set aside to be boiled later (again, boiling sterilizes the lids).
  2. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of the jars with shortening. Keep the rims clean.

For the Cake:

  1. Either use a personal cake recipe or a box cake mix, both will work fine. Prepare the cake batter according to the recipe’s instructions.
  2. Fill the jars about half-way with the batter, but NO MORE than 2/3 full—the batter rises significantly while baking.
  3. Put the jars on a cookie sheet and put them into the oven to bake. The baking is time the same as a regular cake, though if the tops are too brown or not brown enough, adjust the time accordingly. The oven I have now runs about 15 degrees hotter than it should, so watch them!
  4. About five minutes before the cake is done baking, start to boil the lids. When the water has reached a rolling boil, drain the lids from the pot and pat dry with a clean towel, set aside.
  5. When the cakes are done, remove the jars from the oven. The following steps need to be done within ten minutes of removal from the oven. The jars need to be hot in order to create a seal with the lids.

Frost and Finish:

  • The simplest way to frost jar cakes is by using a pastry bag and medium tip or by taking a large Ziploc bag, filling it with frosting, and snipping one corner. Squeeze the frosting out of the cut corner into the jars. The best place to start is on the sides of the jar where the cake has cooled away from the glass.
  • Add as much frosting as desired to each of the cakes. The frosting will melt a bit and run down the sides of the glass, making a cake that is frosted on all sides.
  • While the jars are still hot, seal with the lids. It is very important to do this while the jars are still hot– the heat of the glass creates a natural seal with the lids that will keep the cake fresh. After a few minutes you should hear the lids making popping or "ping" sound, indicating that they have sealed. If the lids have not popped after 15 minutes or so, try re-boiling the lids to re-heat them.
  • Let the jars cool and decorate the outside.
You can get all kinds of creative with tags and tops and bows and shit. You can even tie those little green-friendly bamboo spoons on the outside for uber-cuteness, although those suckers aren't cheap. Here are some cutie-pie pics from around the interwebs.




And here are some other how-to's for other yummy ideas:

Hazelnut Marzipan Jar Cakes from Vintage Mixer.

Pie (PIE!) in a Jar from Our Best Bites.

Pumpkin Cake in a Jar via Cakespy from Serious Eats.

Swirled Nutella Cake in a Jar from The Girl with a Curl.

Now, last but not least, if you think these are super cute and yet you don't have a freakin' DIY/cooking bone in your poor little body, do not despair. I just found (via Charlotte Wedding magazine) a local Charlottean who can do these for $2.50 a pop, $4 for large ones. Check out Edible Art of Charlotte. Additionally, these are awesome if you like cake, but don't want to have a regular ol' cake sitting out on your counter tempting you day and night with it's cakey-goodness. You can keep these stored away and eat them only when you're damn good and ready. Happy eating/baking/buying!

Reader Comments (11)

What do you think about donating to a charity in honor of a friend who passed and was the one who introduced us?

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKO

@KO - I think that's fine idea! If you Google "charity wedding favors" you'll find a whole host of ways to do this. Check out this old post of mine:
There are pictures of how you can tell your guests what you've done: a framed announcement at the wedding or even individual cards at each place setting. You could incorporate them into name cards or table cards - whatever your preference.
Since a wedding is a happy time, you don't want to focus too much on the passing of your friend (which I'm very sorry to hear about), so be thoughtful with your wording would be my one piece of advice.

March 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

I know this is all about weddings, but the cakes in a jar would also make nice holiday gifts -- color coordinated for the specific day of course.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMom

If I didn't have a box filled with Ghiradelli chocolates in Chinese take-out boxes and wasn't also afeared of botulism, I would be all over this as a fun snacky keepsake.

I totally agree about favors with the couple's name and wedding date on them. Erm. No. Also, anything with cutesy-poo children dressed as brides and grooms or the ubiquitous swans must go.

I do love the magnetic salt and pepper shakers I've seen, though. And I have to admit that we made favors with our guests names on them. Hopefully someone will actually want them, or I'm going to cry (okay, I'm going to cry no matter what, but still).

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

He was an animal lover to the max and had several charities that he helped out with and donated to all the time. We are good friends with his wife and we chose one of the organizations that meant the most to him, and to us as well. We contacted the organization and they hooked us up with the cards and the envelopes for all of the tables. We did some nice wording that didn't focus on his passing but mentioned it was in his honor. I'm going to put one on each place setting or nearby for each person with their name on it, and have it serve as the seating place card.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKO

#1 Those SWANS are hilarious.

#2 Your cake-in-a-jar sounds delicious....That sounded...far dirtier than I meant it.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie

Also, on the plus side...I believe we just found a female version of Dick-in-a-box.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie

Hi Louise!

I just wanted to say that after a friend recommended your site, I immediately saw the crystal swans and thought, "Oh boy. Tacky." BUT, I kept reading and...thank God! LOVE your site. This particular post made me feel so much better about my wedding which was last August. I spent every waking hour (and SLEEPING hour) the week before my wedding making elaborate sugar cookies decorated Martha Stewart-style (little wedding cakes, diamond rings and wedding dresses). I tried to put myself in my guests' shoes--no one wants to take junk home, but everyone likes to eat. I attached a little tag to them with the quote: "Life is short, but sweet for certain"--a favorite quote from mine and my hubby's favorite band, Dave Matthews. However, all that work meant that I was uber stressed in those final days and I also let a couple other things slip through the cracks...(e.g. I didn't go to the hair stylist for a "trial do" or even to my make-up artist for a trial "face.") But I wanted those cookies, damnit! And I wanted them to be made by ME; not a stranger...Cooking and baking is how I show love and affection and I didn't want my wedding day to be an exception. Anyway, the punchline is that I've had regrets about my choice to put all that time into those cookies, but this blog entry made me feel so much better. I feel validated! ;) THANK YOU!!!!

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

Great idea I love your DIY cake in a jar wedding favors they look so delicious.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWedding Decorations

Hi, I love this post! I am thinking of doing these for baby shower favours. I just had one question. As I make A LOT of cakes, icing a hot cake definatly makes frosting melt, as you said in your post. However, my question is, does it still present well? I will probably only make these a day or 2 in advance but I definatly don't want a soggy, gloppy mess for the guests to open :-) Thanks for sharing!

April 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

How did you do the red velvet cake in a jar. Looks like you would have to bake first then layer?

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

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