Birthday Cakes in a Jar

Birthday Cakes in a Jar

Birthday Cakes in a Jar

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, let’s get on to more important things. Like my birthday. Technically it’s not until Wednesday, but I like to make my birthday week filled with as many obnoxiously sprinkly posts as possible. Unfortunately, I’m going out of town tomorrow for work for my entire birthday week, so I went with a sprinkly portable cake that I plan to take with me on my trip. Don’t worry, though, my real birthday cakes (I always make two) will be coming, but just a little later than usual.

I totally meant to post these little jar cakes for Small Batch Saturday, but Saturday turned into Sunday, so Small Batch Sunday it is. I’m trying my best to stick with the schedule, but this every other week thing is way too complicated for me. Anyway, this recipe makes 2 little cakes which can be baked directly in mason jars.

I chose yellow cake with mocha frosting because when I was a kid, I only liked 2 kinds of cake- yellow cake with chocolate frosting, or mocha cake with mocha frosting. Both were from a cake mix, and I’m embarrassed to say that the frosting was usually from a can. By the way, whatever happened to mocha flavored cake mix? Does anyone else remember that? These little cakes are combination of my two favorite childhood flavors.

Birthday Cakes in a JarSprinklesBirthday Cakes in a JarBirthday Cakes in a Jar

Not pictured: Aaron trying to steal a jar of cake and me running after him with a squirt bottle screaming, “Drop the cake!” We are so mature.

Birthday Cakes in a Jar

Yield: makes 2 half pint sized mason jar cakes


    For the Cake:
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Yolk of 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the frosting
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • sprinkles for topping


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour 2 half pint sized mason jars (or use a baking spray such as Baker’s Joy or Cake Release).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda until the baking soda is dissolved.
  4. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and melted butter. Whisk to combine.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  6. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  7. Divide the batter equally between the prepared jars. Place the jars on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cakes, and turn them out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
  9. For the frosting:
  10. With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until it has become light and creamy.
  11. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on low to combine.
  12. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat for an additional minute.
  13. Add the coffee extract and milk and beat to combine.
  14. Assembly:
  15. Place the frosting in a 12-inch piping bag fitted with a star tip
  16. If your cake has domed up on the top, slice it off to make the cake flat (the dome is perfect for taste testing).
  17. Slice the cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
  18. Place one layer of the cake in the bottom of the jar.
  19. Pipe a layer of frosting over the cake.
  20. Add an additional layer of cake and pipe an additional layer of frosting.
  21. Top with sprinkles.

Cake recipe adapted from Small-Batch Baking


  1. This is a lovely idea! So versatile with the colorful frosting!

    1. Thanks, Christine!

  2. Bahaha I can just picture you running after him. My dog always tries to steal my food as I’m photographing it … I have shots where her nose comes into frame. lol So bad. These are so fun! And I love all the sprinkles – totally necessary for birthdays!
    Ashley recently posted…Sweet Potato and Black Bean PizzaMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Ashley! My dog’s nose ends up in the frame quite a bit, too!

  3. What an adorable idea! These birthday cakes look so delicious and I love the jars. (huge Ball Mason crush over here.)
    Abbie @ Needs Salt recently posted…coconut caramelized banana chocolate chip gelato with dark chocolate magic shell + toasted coconutMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Abbie! I love Mason jars, too. It’s just more fun to eat dessert out of a jar!

  4. Bahahaha that “not pictured” is the best footnote of blog posts, ever. I can’t really picture Erik ever trying to steal my cake (pie, much more likely), but I can totally see that scenario happening with me and my siblings.

    Okay seriously?! This is SUCH an adorable idea. Portable birthday cake = the best birthday cake? Sadly, I don’t think I was ever introduced to mocha cake mix as a kid, but it sounds delightful. And PS. I love Bisquick (like LOVELOVELOVEomgIwantitnow love) so you’re not getting any shame for loving boxed mixes over here!
    Erika recently posted…Miso Avocado Bowl + Egg and Tomato SoupMy Profile

    1. Aaron never used to care for cake, but he’s become a real cake fiend lately! I’m glad you share my love of mixes. I still love them, but not the canned frosting.

  5. Oh heeeeey, girl, happy birthday week! I hope that you get to celebrate and have a special day, even though you’re out of town. These cute little cakes seem like the perfect early celebration, and I can’t wait to see your other cake coming up!
    Elizabeth @ recently posted…Chocolate Rose CupcakesMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I tend to go overboard with Bday cakes, so there will be lots coming up!

  6. Happy Birthday, Natasha! When I was little, my favorite cake was a rich yellow cake with chocolate frosting, too. However, a close second was a moist white cake with vanilla buttercream. I never had mocha cake from a boxed mix, but I bet it was tasty! Even as a kid, I loved coffee ice cream and all things mocha. Have a wonderful birthday! May all your hopes and dreams come true. :) xo

    1. I love white cake mix, too. I’m still searching for a recipe that tastes like the mix, which is kind of silly. Thanks for stopping by, Stacy!

  7. Is a spoon sufficient to get every crumb of cake and gob of frosting out of those cute little jars, or should I be prepared to use my finger?
    Sarah|pickledcapers recently posted…Coconut Wine WafersMy Profile

    1. I would totally not judge you if you used your finger. Sometimes that is necessary with cake! :)

  8. Happy birthday to you!!!! These are too cute!
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes recently posted…Chinese Fried Rice with ChickenMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Ashley!

  9. Happy birthday, Natasha! These little cakes are adorable! I’m such a sucker for dessert in jars and for sprinkles…and for cake and frosting…basically I’ll eat any dessert. Don’t apologize for the cake mix love. I used nothing BUT cake mix for most of my life and I loooooooved them. I hope you’re eating fabulous food and drinking delicious booze and getting spoiled with presents all day long!
    Nancy @ gottagetbaked recently posted…#BCSPCA #NationalCupcakeDayMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much Nancy! I used cake mix for most of my life, too! I still love it, but will never go back to canned frosting.

  10. Natasha, as always, you amaze me with your photography skills. Not only is your cake in a jar gorgeous, I love how you captured that field of colorful sprinkles!
    Julia | recently posted…Easy blueberry muffinsMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Julia!

  11. Hi Natasha,
    Love these little cake jars. Wish I had seen this post before, would have made it for my daughter’s birthday for sure.
    Too cute!
    Asmita recently posted…Bake Party-Cookies And DessertsMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Asmita! I hope your daughter had a good birthday!

  12. This looks lovely! I’ve been looking for a cake recipe for my sister’s birthday, I think this one is just lush.x

  13. Wow, these look amazing! Loving putting a birthday cake into a jar- so fun! :)
    whatjessicabakednext recently posted…Churros y Chocolate (Easy Baked Recipe)My Profile

  14. Any tips for making a large batch? I’m making 16 for a baby shower!

  15. Happy birthday, Natasha! Hope you had a lovely time!
    Those cakes look so pretty. Yummy!
    Nicole @ Vanilla and Beans recently posted…Chai Latte CupcakesMy Profile

  16. I absolutely LOVE cakes in jars! It makes them look so much more adorable!
    Avanika {Yumsilicious Bakes} recently posted…DIY : Homemade Granola BarsMy Profile

  17. What a wonderful idea. I gave them a try and found them to be delicious and adorable. One thing though, I believe you have listed the wrong size mason jars. I tried the recipe using pint size jars. They were way too big for the amount of batter being split between the two jars. Tried again using half pint jars and they turned out perfect!

    1. Terry, I think you are correct! I meant to say half pint jars. I’ll edit that in the recipe. Thanks!

  18. My hubby loves yellow cake with chocolate frosting. He asks for it every year. And yes, he prefers out of the box cake with out of the can frosting. I’ve tried every different recipe and he still prefers out of the box/can.

    His birthday is next week and we’re taking a cruise as a family (not for his birthday, just as a family vacation). We’ll be on the cruise during his bday but I’m dying to make a little yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I’ll give it a try! This post is perfect! Thanks!!

    1. I hope your hubby likes it, Melissa!

  19. This is a lovely idea and I want to do this for a friend’s birthday soon, but in the trail run I did today the cakes kept sinking in the jar after I brought them out of the oven :( any advice?

    1. I’m sorry it sunk! The only thing I can think of is that the oven temperature was off, or perhaps the batter was overbeaten? Also, wait at least 15 minutes before you open the oven to check on your cake, because that can cause the oven temp to fall. Hope this helps!

  20. How did you shoot these lovely pictures of cakes and what lens did you use? Please share with us. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Sanjay, I use a Nikon D7000 and a 50mm 1.8 lens. Here’s a link.

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