Can you bake in a Mason jar?

2ajsmamaNovember 2, 2010

I don't want to can bread or cake, but I'm starting to think about my DD's birthday cake. We're taking friends to see the new Disney movie about Rapunzel, so I thought I'd make a tower cake set on a small sheet cake. I need something smaller in diameter than my smallest pan - can I use a 3C widemouth jar if I grease it well? Fill it with 2C of batter? Or less? Anything special I need to do to make sure it doesn't crack in the dry heat (put a pan of water in the oven?)?

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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


I read in a magazine recently a feature suggesting baking rolls in little 4-oz mason jars, so that suggests yes.

And some methods for canning suggest heating in the oven to sterilize (or at least heat up) the jars before filling. That's at a lower temp but I imagine if there was much danger of cracking at a higher temp it wouldn't be widely recommended.

In other words, I think it's a good bet. That's gotta be some pretty heat-resistant glass. I don't know that the dryness would make any difference.

Something I have done myself is bake in coffee cans (as recommended in good old _Laurel's Kitchen_). Worked great. So if you had a tall, thin tin can that could be an option as well.

Either way, I'd fill the container to an inch or so under the rim, to make sure it rose up over the rim in baking, because it's going to have a rounded top that you are going to want to slice off.

Another tip: professional bakers put sticks of some kind into anything tall like that to keep it upright and stuck into the main cake. Might be a good idea, as long as you remember to remove it when cutting the cake!

Sounds like a delightful idea. Let us know how it goes!


    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 9:29AM
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Thanks Zabby - I've made tiered and stacked cakes before, I have the dowels. It just struck me that the 3C jar would be the perfect tower, the height/diameter ratio is about right (though I have to think about what to do for the roof - too large in diameter for an ice cream cone). Though with something this tall and skinny it might be best to assemble it onsite (which means I get there early and ask them to keep it behind the snack counter, or I assemble it in the parking lot, keep it in the car, and try to carry it in after the movie!). Means that the tower wouldn't be frosted - just a few decorations and the roof, since I would have to handle it. A pound cake recipe works best for constructions like this, though I've had success with "pudding in the mix" cake mixes.

If I could find a metal can with the right dimensions I'd use that (or those - it would be easier to bake it in sections). Metal flexes a little - I'm a little afraid I won't get the cake out of the jar in one piece, even if the jar's well-greased. Hmmm, maybe I have a cookie tin in the attic...

I'll let you know how it goes - the party is at the end of the month.

I *was* planning on Cinderella's coach this year, but since this movie is out, we'll have to go with the Rapunzel theme instead :-) Last year was spur of the moment (or 2 days' notice) movie party a month after her birthday (actually after Christmas!), for The Princess and the Frog. I just made cupcakes for that. It's so hard to get people together for a birthday party during (U.S.) Thanksgiving week - and I've got *two* kids with birthdays that week! DS hasn't decided what he wants to do for his birthday, but I've got Farmer School that day so he'll have to do it with DH.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:02AM
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Assuming a 350 degree oven, that's over 100 degrees hotter than canning. It's also dry. But what I'd be concerned with is putting a jar and contents into a preheated oven. I know from experience that putting hot liquid in a room temp jar will crack it unless you temper the jar.

might be simpler to bake some cupcakes. Level a couple of them, stack and add a third upright filling in the slanted sides with icing. That's give you a dome roof or you could add candies for the parapet.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:19AM
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Thanks Kay - I didn't want the slanted sides from cupcakes, I'm going to look for a tall (only needs to be 6" tall x 2-3" diameter) cookie tin with straight sides - though the paint is likely to come off. Gotta think about toxicity too since cookie tins aren't meant to be put in the oven. Maybe I can find a set of small straight-sided cake pans. I have some small ramekins and pie pans, but they have sloped sides too.

Here are a few of the wedding/shower cakes I've made - had them on Snapfish, had to put them in Photobucket to show here...

First one I made

My sister's shower (not stacked, but tiered)

Closeup - I made over 500 royal icing apple blossoms for this cake!

I can't find any pictures of the chocolate cake I made for my cousin's wedding.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:42AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I don't have anything to add to your cake/baking shape dilemma, I just wanted to say very pretty cakes. I can make things taste good, but I can't necessarily make them look stylish/decorative at the same time :)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:57AM
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on Ace of Cake, they just fill in the slanted edges and smooth out.

Another option, bake in a regular pan, use a 2 or 3" cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out circles and stack em on a dowel. Man, you could go sky high with that tower!

those cakes are awesome. You not only have more energy than me, you've got a lot more patience. My aunt used to do wedding cakes. She used sugar flowers -- not Royal Icing. You could break a tooth if you tried to eat one.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:59AM
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What's Ace of Cake? Only thing about cutting out circles - it's harder to frost a cut edge than a baked edge. Too many crumbs (unless you freeze the cake). Let's let this thread die since now it's OT.

morz8 - thanks for the compliment. I actually use a lot of cake mixes, it's hard to get a really good-tasting, firm cake from scratch.

Kay - I haven't done a complicated cake like those in years (even the chocolate cake was simple - if you can call ganache and chocolate-covered strawberries in July simple, it wasn't easy LOL). But I do like to do a fancy cake for the kids each year - DS is outgrowing it, which is a good thing since DD wants more complicated each year now! Two complicated cakes in one week (with pumpkin pies, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes - I do everything but the turkey) would kill me! Cupcakes last year, 2008 I made a Little Mermaid cake with the doll stuck in the pan.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 11:32AM
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Ace of Cakes is a cable tv show... forgot you don't watch TV ... when would you have the time. Last message from me..

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 11:41AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Have you checked out Fantes? They offer a straight-sided 6x3" pan. The Silverwood mini-pan set looks very appealing, but I don't know when it will be back in stock. If interested, you might call.

They're a good company. I've ordered a lot from them over the years. (Too much, actually, LOL.)


Here is a link that might be useful: Fantes Round Cake Pans

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 11:52AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Just a thought but how about making a fat Swiss roll (jelly roll in US parlance ???) and putting it on end?

Alternatively you could use a clean coffee can. Metal so no cracking issues. Then a smaller can if you want an upper storey.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rapunzel cake

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 2:33PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


Wow, those are fabulous! You sure don't need cake decorating/assembling advice from me.

But I really think baking in the jar would be fine. As I said, I saw rolls baked in them, and that's gonna be hotter than cake. I can't remember where I saw this, but it was probably _Canadian Living_ magazine. (It was for a Thanksgiving themed issue, and I remember talking about it at Thanksgiving here, which is second week of October; in a U.S. publication I wouldn't have seen Thanksgiving stuff yet.) _CL_ tests their recipes in their own kitchen and is really reliable.

You could bake a couple, just in case sthg went wrong with one.

I think your point about getting cake out of a tin can is a good one---bread holds together a lot better so the fact that it was easy to do it with bread doesn't necessarily mean you'd not have trouble with cake.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 3:22PM
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Ooh, thanks Flora. I got the idea of using a spaghetti sauce can (or 2), maybe topped with a cupcake. We stopped by the craft store and they had books based on the new Disney movie, wouldn't you know the tower is top-heavy! Like a cottage on a stick :-) I was just going to put "hair" coming out the window, not make any fondant people.

But if I decide to do *just* a tower then I'll bake multiple 6" round cakes (maybe a 7" on the bottom) - I only have 1 pan that size but I can freeze a cake or 2 before assembly. Or maybe order a couple (3?) of the 2x2 straight-sided pans that Carol linked to (thanks Carol).

Kay - I watch TV (Tuesday nights) but we don't have cable so I wouldn't have known the show anyway. Nope, don't have time to watch TV, read the paper - I spend too much time online LOL. I do try to read a novel for a half hour or so before bed most nights (except Tuesdays) but don't even get to do that all the time.

Making Paradise jelly now - if my quince juice isn't too brown. Gotta drain the cranberries. I'll make/process the jelly (and cranapple sauce) tomorrow. Have to get dinner going too - Scouts tonight. And I haven't helped DD with her homework yet. I don't know if I'm going to get out to vote tonight - but DH will before Scouts. oh well, 1 out of 2 isn't bad considering he works and I had the kids all day (no school).

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 4:49PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I'd be worried about getting the cake out of a jar. With a can, you can take your can opener and cut the bottom of the can off and push the cake out.

I don't think it would be necessary, but you could fit a roll of waxed paper or parchment into the can and then pour the batter in.

Seriously, I'd probably make a nice big cake base and frost a cardboard tube for the tower. Landscape the base to look like the area around the tower, maybe add a little plastic horse for the prince.

Those are absolutely gorgeous decorated cakes.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 7:57PM
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Hello. I have made pumpkin and banana bread in canning jars before. They hold up fine and I've never had one break. I reuse the same jars for canning with no losses--just make sure you don't use metal utensils when you're baking with them to avoid scratching the insides.

A few more tips:

1. It's hard to tell when the center is done, so you might want to have a long skewer ready to test them.

2. The jars don't balance very well on the oven racks, so it's easier to put them on a baking sheet to transfer in/out of the oven, especially if you are using many jars at once. Some type of baking sheets work better than others, but I haven't figured out the best ones yet.

3. Grease the jars really well--especially the bottom and corners--and don't get too antsy to take the cakes out before they've had a few minutes to cool. This will ensure you get whole cakes, not in pieces.

Good luck if you decide to make them this way!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pumpkin bread in a jar

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:21AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Please don't bake breads in jars. Per the current guidelines:

These products are not recommended for canning; choose recipes that you can freeze. In fact, most of these products are not really "canned." The directions call for baking in the jar and then closing with a canning lid. Many recipes for quick breads and cakes are low-acid and have the potential for supporting the growth of a bacteria like Clostridium botulinum if it is present inside the closed jar. One university's research showed a high potential for problems. You will see these products made commercially; however, additives, preservatives and processing controls not available for home recipes are used. Canning jar manufacturers also don't endorse baking in their canning jars.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:02AM
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Not to be contrary, but neither poster suggested canning bread, simply baking the bread in the jars to get the round shape. And, frankly, the fact that canning jar manufacturers don't endorse baking in their jars is nearly meaningless. It doesn't really tell us if baking in jars is always ok, has some small risk, has a giant risk, or is potentially world-ending. They are simply covering their liability against lawsuits. I bet there are lots of things that jars can be used for that jar manufacturers don't endorse (using jars to clean paintbrushes in solvents; airtight storage of poisonous items; as beakers in school/home science experiments; as luminaries; as candle lanterns) I'm sure all these things, for which I have safely and effectively used canning jars, would make jar company lawyers very uncomfortable.

I say that baking in a jar is worth the try, especially if you have it on a tray in case of unfortunate breakage.

ajsmama--pretty cakes!!


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:56PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I think Dave just posted the entire link. The intent being the part about manufacturers not recommending baking in them.

They are not designed to withstand the hot and dry heat.
Your choice of course, but the warnings are there for a reason (be it safety or liability).

Could you use a tin soup can (or 2..or 3)?
Seems like you have a lot of flexibility in diameter and height that way. No risk. Insides are already "deemed food safe". Lots of baked edges to frost.
You could trim the final one off to a point or use a lightly larger can for that "cottage on a stick" effect.

Good luck and we'd love to see the final photos!! Your other cakes are beautiful!


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 3:52PM
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I'm confused.

Doesn't it take an airless environment for botulism to grow ... since the cake is baked without a lid, the oxygen vented during cooking would be replaced by air before the top is put on. Perhaps other things such as mold could grow, but botulism?


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 4:09PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I didn't say anyone DID suggest canning Sharon. However since many do and have done - can bread in jars - I don't see why posting the guideline about it poses any issue. Some may not have been aware of it. Anyone can choose to ignore it if they wish but it never hurts to let them know that the guideline does exist.

And, frankly, the fact that canning jar manufacturers don't endorse baking in their jars is nearly meaningless.

Nearly meaningless to you perhaps but hardly to all. Believe it or not, many folks actually heed manufacturer's warnings now and then.

"Use the proper tool for a proper job" is an old but true saying and since there are ample proper utensils available, why choose to use one that isn't recommended by the manufacturer for that purpose?


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 4:56PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

Those guidlines Dave exerpted clearly relate to *sealing a baked good in the jar*. Ajsmama is clearly discussing an entirely different project, as she specifically clarified in her initial post: just using mason jars as baking molds.

It seems a clever and creative idea to me.

Gosh, if I only ever used things for the one thing the manufacturers had designed them for, what a lot more stuff I'd have to buy! And how dull life would be!

Z, who has used mason jars to store beans, freeze syrup, protect an emergency candle from the wind, create a really effective wasp trap, store bacon grease, and hold the bunny's drinking water, just to name a few

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 10:16PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

This is a quote from Penn State Extension that seems more apropos re. baking in jars.

If breads or cakes are baked in canning jars, seal them after they are completely cooled so that a vacuum seal is not created. This will prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Also, immediately refrigerate. Refrigeration temperatures will prevent the growth of other harmful bacteria that can grow at the water activity and pH typically found in these types of products. The shelf-life in the refrigerator is several weeks.

Additionally, there is always the risk of having the jar break in the oven or upon removal from the oven. Also, the jars can be very hot so use oven mitts to prevent burns. â¨â¨from: Dr. Angie Fraser, Food Safety Specialist, North Carolina State University.

Some of that is clearly stating the obvious, but I do know there have been a number of complaints about the quality of the finished product (i.e. insufficiently baked at the center and over-baked at the edges), especially if the jar is a quart, rather than a half-pint or pint.

But it seems if someone wants to bake in jars and is willing to risk the possibility of reduced consistency/quality and perhaps breakage, that's up to them.

I can guess that cupcakes or mini-yeast loaves (like little brioche) baked in half-pints would be cute. However, I wouldn't do it because I don't want to stress the glass, risking future breakage during canning, and because I have certain pans I know produce really reliable results for me. For gifting I often use the paper baking pans.


Here is a link that might be useful: King Arthur Flour Paper Baking Pans

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 1:48AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

Wow, Carol, those are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the link.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 1:44PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

That is a great link Carol. Never seen it before. And its a perfect time of year to order a bunch of them for baking gifts. Thanks for posting it.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 4:11PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I would have mentioned them before. I just never thought of it. But I have used them for years and know they work very well for baking, freezing (obviously wrapped or bagged after), and gifting.

IIRC those paper pans are made in Italy. It's a heavy silicone-or-similar coated chocolate brown paper with a bronzed gold design.

Zabby, I know those pans are sold other places as well. Here in the states they're carried at Sur la Table and numerous online baking suppliers. KAF just happens to have one of the more complete selections. I wouldn't be surprised if Golda's Kitchen in Canada carried them also.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 6:44PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

>> Zabby, I know those pans are sold other places as well. [...] I wouldn't be surprised if Golda's Kitchen in Canada carried them also.

And so they are!
Carol, you are, as always, a font of useful knowledge.
Much thanks.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:29PM
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Hey Ladies,
I am so excited to announce that I am starting my own business selling cake in a jar. I was inspired by my LOVE for cake and my LOVE for family. We just launched our website, and I encourage all of you to check out our unique products that allow recipients to just add water, stir, and microwave for 30 seconds!


Please check out:


LOVE YOUR IDEAS, please keep them coming. We are sticking with just the three flavors of the business, but in my spare time, I would love to make pumpkin bread and biscuits.

Here is a link that might be useful: Courage Cakes - Cake in a Jar for Military Men and Women - Send them love!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 2:33PM
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