Saturday, April 16, 2011

Canning Cakes, Sweetbreads, Brownies and such

Yep! I canned cake! And brownies!

I was told you can't do it, but I did anyway.

**Disclaimer** The USDA and the Ag Extension people say there is no proven method for safely canning cakes and sweetbreads. Grannies have been doing it for decades, maybe even centuries so this Granny decided to give it a try. And, in all honesty, cakes aren't technically canned... they're bottled, the difference being in canning you use a pressure canner or a boiling water bath... you don't use either when you can (or bottle) cakes. Having said that... try this at your own risk, I did!

The method is the same for any cake and you can't really can a cake that is decorated or anything like that... brownies work great, banana bread, zucchini bread would be good, pound cakes are ideal... my DH loves an apricot pound cake that his mom used to make and it has a glaze on it using powdered sugar and lemon juice... I even canned that one with great success.

Why would I want to can cake? Two reasons...

One... with food prices beginning to soar out of sight and possible shortages in the future, I'm convinced that one day (maybe soon) something as simple as cake will be too expensive to make or I won't be able to find the ingredients... who knows!?

Two... and this is a biggie... a full-sized pound cake is pretty big. When my kids were home (especially my son as a teenager who could eat a whole cake and drink a gallon of milk in one sitting... I kid you not, he's done it and stayed skinny as a rail the little stinker!) I had no problem getting a cake eaten before it went stale. Now with just DH and myself and the kids a few hours away so they don't drop by often, if we get a hankering for some homemade pound cake and bake one, a lot of the time half the cake goes to waste before we can eat it all. Canning in large mouth pint jars divides a full sized pound cake into 7 or 8 jars, making mini-cakes for us to enjoy when we want... a box of brownie mix will fill about 4 jars.

My own beloved Mama made a sour cream pound cake that was "to die for!" So that's the recipe and pictures I will share today. This is a delicious, moist pound cake that my youngest brother requested every year for his birthday and Mama made for many special occasions. Mama is no longer with us, she's been gone for going on three years and I miss her so much, she was more than my Mama, she was my dear friend. Her recipe for sour cream pound cake...

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 pound butter or margarine
8 oz. sour cream
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking powder, and soda. Cream shortening with butter, beat until very light, adding sugar gradually. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Blend in flour and milk. Add extracts. Fold in sour cream slowly.

Now here's where the "canning" part takes over... in the original recipe you grease and flour a tube pan and bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half.

To can (or bottle) this yummy goodness of a cake, here's what I did...

First I mixed up my batter... I doubled the recipe and don't recommend it unless you have a REALLY big bowl, it was a challenge keeping all the batter in the bowl, won't be doing that again!

Next I sprayed the inside of my wide mouth pint jars with cooking spray. **I used wide mouth jars because they have straight sides, it would be pretty much impossible to get the cake out of a small mouth jar** I could have greased the inside of the jars with shortening or butter instead but cooking spray is easier and easy is a good thing sometimes. **DON'T flour the jars like you would a pan, it just doesn't work with this baking/canning combo.**

I filled the jar half way with the cake batter to allow room for it to rise. I wiped away any batter that might have dripped onto the rim with a damp cloth. Then I put the jars on a baking pan and slid them into my preheated 325 degree oven. I set the timer for an hour and a half, but checked on them after about an hour. They're done when a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. This batch of little cakes was done in about an hour and 15 minutes.

While the cake jars were baking, I brought my lids and rims to a boil in water and left them simmering so they'd stay hot until needed.

When my cakes were done and golden brown and smelling fabulous, I turned the oven off and opened the oven door, leaving the cakes sitting on the oven rack to stay warm while I took them out and sealed them one at a time.

If the cake had risen above the jar rim, I took a serrated knife and trimmed it down to the edge of the rim. **There's no need to be concerned about headspace with cakes**

I wiped the hot jars again with a damp cloth to remove any crumbs or baked on cake batter. **Care should be taken with this step, the jars are HOT!!!*

I removed the lids, one at a time with my trusty magnetic wand thingy (a FANTASTIC gadget for getting hot lids out of hot water). I gave the lid a little shake to remove as much water as possible, then I tightened them onto the jars.

I then set my sealed up jars of cake onto a folded dish towel on the counter and waited for that magical "Ping!" of a successfully sealed jar... it's a beautiful sound!

To enjoy this treat, just open up the jar, run a knife around the inside between the cake and the jar...

And slide it right out onto a plate.

Sour cream pound cake from a jar! Yum!
I'm told by some older "grannies" that these "canned cakes" will still be good when opened after months or even years... they probably won't get a chance to wait that long to be enjoyed around here!

Canning Granny©2011 All Rights Reserved


  1. Canned Breads and Cakes
    Is it safe to bake and store cakes and breads at home using canning jars?

    ANSWER - Recipes for canned breads and cakes as gift items seem to appear each year around Christmas time. These products are typically made by pouring batter into glass canning jars and baking them in the oven. Once the cake or bread is done, the steaming jars are taken out of the oven and are sealed and cooled to create a vacuum. Most recipes claim that they can be stored without refrigeration for at least a year. Some say they will keep indefinitely.

    The microorganism we are concerned about in these products is Clostridium botulinum. If spores of this type of bacteria are allowed to germinate and grow, deadly botulism toxin is produced. Very small amounts of the toxin can cause an often fatal disease called botulism. Clostridium botulinum spores are abundant in nature but fortunately will only grow and produce toxin in unrefrigerated high moisture foods that are low in acid and exposed to little or no oxygen. These conditions occur in canned foods such as asparagus, green beans, beets, and corn. Thus low-acid canned foods must be processed in pressurized retorts at temperatures of 240 degrees F or higher to make sure that the heat resistant spores are killed.

    Outbreaks of botulism from more unusual sources have been reported such as garlic in oil mixtures, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, and home-canned or fermented fish. Some research studies have shown that low acid canned bread or cake products may have characteristics that are favorable for growth of Clostridium spores.

    Several years ago, a professor of Food Science at Penn State University developed a recipe for canned bread. It was carefully formulated so that acid and moisture levels would prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores during room temperature storage. The product can be safely made as long as the original Penn State recipe is followed exactly as written. However, there is a significant risk that the creative cook may make ingredient substitutions or omissions that could significantly change the pH of the product such that conditions might be more favorable for growth of Clostridium spores.

    In addition to the risk of botulism, there is also a significant risk for consumers to become injury from broken glass when baking cakes and breads in glass canning jars. Canning jars are intended for use in hot water baths or pressure canners and are not designed to withstand the thermal stresses that occur with dry oven heat.

    Therefore, Penn State strongly discourages consumers from canning cakes and breads in jars. Botulism is a serious and often fatal disease and no consumer should take unnecessary risks with this microorganism. If someone gives you a home canned cake or bread product, assume that it is unsafe to eat and immediately discard the contents.

  2. can you use and cake recipe. Like one from a box.

    1. Rhoda, sure, any cake mix will do. ~~Granny

  3. Do you think I could use my own pound cake recipe for this? It's basically like yours only mine doesn't call for milk. Just the sour cream.

    1. Yes, I've done several cake recipes, all with good results. ~~Granny

  4. I love this it's so much fun. I have one question can I can the lemon sauce for my lemon cake?

    1. Depends on what's in it... if it contains milk, I wouldn't recommend it, milk just doesn't hold up well in canning... gets too hot and kinda curdles. ~~Granny

  5. Just found your site, having so much fun! I started canning this far have put up some salsa, pickles, apple sauce, apple butter and pumpkin butter.

    I love the idea of cake in a jar! How long will these be good in storage?

    1. We've eaten them over a year later with good results, since there is no "approved" method there's not information available... but personally, there good for at least a year. ~~Granny

  6. Nice! Thank you for your quick reply!
    I went looking online for that "approved" canned bread recipe by the scientist from Penn State, and couldn't find a thing.
    I find that many, many things that have been done and used and made for generations (canning recipes, herbal treatments, old wives tales) have gotten a bad reputatation from "scientists" and doctors...I'd more easily believe someone who's had real life experience with something than a person who lives in a lab. Just sayin'. And strangely enough, I'm a nurse!!!
    Thanks again!

    1. Here is the link for the Penn State Professor's "Canned" Bread...

      So far none of our canned breads have caused any problems. I suggest always making sure your jars and lids are sterilized and you take necessary precautions to prevent contamination.


      This link actually shows the two original recipes. The problem with using your own is moisture content in addition to low acid etc. These two recipes were developed with both issues in mind, and the cakes were sent over seas to our service men. Tests have been done inoculating batches of other recipes with bacteria and in all cases even though they were cooked the same the bacteria survived. I for one will use only these proved safe recipes it has been noted you must follow them to the letter any variation brings the possibility for bacteria growing. Why take a chance.

    3. because, unknown, some of us can't eat all the ingredients and have to vary it.

  7. This is such a cute idea. Do you think you could do this with quart sized wide mouth jars if you wanted to make a bigger loaf?

    1. I don't see why not! Go for it! ~~Granny

  8. Just made my first cake in a jar, not this recipe but a pound cake. It came out okay until I noticed the bottom was not fully cooked. Have you had slightly under cooked cakes, have you eaten them safely?

  9. I've seen on other websites where this is popular for sending to loved ones stationed overseas. I would think this would be ok since you can buy bread in a can.

  10. Wide mouth quart jars do not work well. The cakes bake nicely in the quarts but when you try to get them out you have to get them out with a fork. I would use wide mouth pints or wide mouth pint and half jars! I'm fixing to make your recipe above and put them in the wide mouth pint and half jars. Thank you for the recipe!

  11. Thank you for sharing !

  12. Love this idea, Do you think this would work with half pints? If so how long would the baking take?

  13. I have a batch in the oven now...keeping my fingers crossed!

  14. Hey everyone, as per the concerns with canning breads and cakes I read elsewhere to put apple cider vineger in your recepie. It's the same as adding lemon juice to your tomatoes or green beans to just cook them in a water bath. It raises the PH enough.
    Just a thought, I'm sure there are a dozen or two ways to raise the PH.

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  33. Love this. just wondering if the cakes could be baked and pressure canned at the same time.
    Like the batter goes into the jars and the jars sealed then pressure canned. So they bake and get canned at the same time?
    Anyone have any idea. Id like to try it.

  34. Love this. just wondering if the cakes could be baked and pressure canned at the same time.
    Like the batter goes into the jars and the jars sealed then pressure canned. So they bake and get canned at the same time?
    Anyone have any idea. Id like to try it.

  35. Love this. just wondering if the cakes could be baked and pressure canned at the same time.
    Like the batter goes into the jars and the jars sealed then pressure canned. So they bake and get canned at the same time?
    Anyone have any idea. Id like to try it.

  36. I have been canning breads and cakes for one has ever became ill...funny how the scientists have to get into everything...tell us its bad to do and wham!It's no longer safe to do what we have been doing for years...after all, if we can our own food we won't be buying from the grocery store and greasing the palms of the already rich, right? Okay, off my soap box...sorry :) I can both pints and half pints... I have found that they stay very fresh for approx. 6-8 months before they start to dry out a bit... when this happens we just slice the cakes and toast them...still delicious and very edible...can away ladies, if you use clean jars and common sense all will be fine.

    1. I agree, because they baked a cake at 177 degrees? the recipe calles for 325.

  37. When making pound cakes that are far too big to be consumed before going stale, I cut it into sections and wrap tightly with plastic and foil and freeze. Freezer storage is limited before it develpops "freezer taste" Since there is a remote chance of a canned cake harboring bacteria, and I think baking and sealing in glass jars is brilliant, I will simply store the extra cake in the freezer. All issues resolved.

  38. has anyone tried oven canning cornbread? i have a reipie that includes sugar, shortening, & eggs.

  39. Is it ok to use Philidelphia Cream Cheese instead of sour cream?. I did and it taste great but I am worried about the storage time.

  40. You made my day ! I want to try this one! :D

  41. I love how your determination to create against the majority has led to all these fantastic breads and cakes in jars. I had experimented one holiday and wanted to layer our dinner in a jar and pressure cook them so that my hubby could eat them for lunches on the road. Could not find one example online of anyone trying this unorthodox method. So it is refreshing to find another rebel!!

  42. I love how your determination to create against the majority has led to all these fantastic breads and cakes in jars. I had experimented one holiday and wanted to layer our dinner in a jar and pressure cook them so that my hubby could eat them for lunches on the road. Could not find one example online of anyone trying this unorthodox method. So it is refreshing to find another rebel!!

  43. Could I make a pineapple upside-down cake like this too?

  44. I had made many cases of cakes in jars that some of them included nuts, raisins, etc. and the remaining moistness of the raisins kept the cakes too moist in the jars and became "bad"; the nuts became rancid and left a very bad looking cake in the jars, so now I am making plain cakes in jars and then doing sauces or toppings after the cakes are removed from the jars. I love this idea because both my DH and I are diabetics and when we want cake, we can have just a slice and our sweet tooth is satisfied without going over the sugar load..:0)


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