Crack open a cakeaway*: That’s the naughty new way to have your cake and eat it — on the go. SARAH RAINEY lifts the lid
- Traditional cakes squished in a jar and eaten with a spoon are back in fashion
- Marks & Spencer is the latest retailer to launch a range of ‘cakeaway’ jars in UK
- From Victoria sponge to unicorn cake, Sarah Rainey gives verdict in a taste test
Cake-lovers, rejoice! At long last there’s a mess-free solution for carrying a slice of your favourite sponge in your handbag.
Cake jars — all the layers of a traditional cake, squished inside a jar and eaten with a spoon — are set to be the sweet treat trend of the summer. Made from offcuts of sponge with lashings of filling, they’re perfectly portioned to pack in your lunchbox or take on a picnic.
Marks & Spencer is the latest retailer to launch a range of ‘cake-away’ jars, including a version of its beloved Colin the Caterpillar.
Sarah Rainey gives her verdict on ‘cakeaway’ jars eaten with a spoon, as the concept falls back into fashion across the UK. Pictured: Colin the Caterpillar cake jar, £4, M&S
The concept can be traced back 100 years to Army wives who used jars to send their husbands home-baked cakes while they were stationed overseas. Having fallen out of fashion, the cake jar is back — and, from classic Victoria sponge to fruity lemon loaf and eye-catching rainbow cake, there are plenty to choose from. SARAH RAINEY grabs a spoon . . .
Colin the Caterpillar cake jar, £4, M&S
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? All the elements of a traditional Colin cake: chocolate sponge, chocolate ganache and white chocolate chips, with a white chocolate caterpillar face on top and added chocolate sauce.
The 178g plastic lidded jars also come in raspberry ripple and trillionaire’s shortcake flavours.
TRANSPORT TEST: I’m worried the runny chocolate sauce will ooze into my handbag, but the lid fits tightly and keeps the layers in place. It even survives a vigorous shake by my toddler, who’s desperate to tuck in.
TASTE TEST: Gooey, decadent and with just the right ratio of buttercream to sponge. The jar is the perfect size for digging in with a spoon, and I can scrape out every morsel of chocolatey goodness.
VERDICT: Delicious; but there’s no way one person can eat it all. 4/5
Victoria cake jar, part of the ‘Big Four’ set, £24 for 4 (£6 each), coolcakesbychris.co.uk
Sarah said the Victoria cake jar (pictured) is a little pot of pure indulgence
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? Three layers each of vanilla sponge, vanilla bean buttercream and strawberry jam — a mouth-watering Victoria sponge for one.
London cake-maker Chris Childs sells this classic flavour as part of a gift set that includes chocolate fudge, luscious lemon and spiced carrot cake. At just 100ml, it’s tiny compared with the rest, but makes up for it in presentation: the gold-lidded glass jars are tied with raffia bows with eco-friendly tags.
TRANSPORT TEST: Freshly baked, these are designed to be eaten within two days of delivery. The contents shift in my lunchbox but it still looks appetising, with ruby jam oozing into the sponge.
TASTE TEST: The sponge is moreish, the buttercream smooth and luxurious — and the fruity jam brings all the flavours together. Each jar is equivalent to a single cupcake, so I can justify scoffing two.
RATING: This is a little pot of pure indulgence.5/5
Cookies and cream cake jar, £4.25, cakeinajar.co.uk
Sarah said cookies and cream cake jar (pictured) is a delight for vegans and non-vegans alike
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? Four generous layers of light vanilla sponge, served with a creamy cookie-flavoured frosting and cookie crumbs.
Made by London-based Georgina Sterling, all the cake jars — which come in 190ml and 300ml sizes — are vegan, and can be adapted to accommodate allergies. Varieties available include coffee, peanut butter, Oreo and chocolate.
TRANSPORT TEST: This is about as secure a jar as you can get — in fact, I struggle to get into it. The cake will last ten days in the fridge and can be frozen for a month, so it’s fine to carry around.
TASTE TEST: More like a pudding than a cake, it’s sticky, stodgy and moreish. It tastes buttery and creamy, with cookie throughout; it may be plant-based but there’s no compromise on flavour.
RATING: A delight for vegans and non-vegans alike.5/5
Unicorn cake jar, £25 for 3 (£8.33 each), candyscupcakes.co.uk
Sarah said unicorn cake jar (pictured) is perfect for a children’s party favour, but too sickly sweet for grown-ups
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? With swirls of pastel buttercream, vanilla sponge and an edible gold ‘unicorn horn’, this is a little girl’s fantasy cake in a jar.
Created by Manchester-based Candice Bannister, who also offers mermaid and rainbow varieties, it comes wrapped in tissue with a pretty gift tag.
The 400ml plastic jar (two cupcakes’ worth) isn’t much to look at, but the contents themselves are mesmerising.
TRANSPORT TEST: Ideal for long walks or car journeys because it will stay fresh for a week unrefrigerated. There’s so much cake inside that it doesn’t budge, even when stored upside-down.
TASTE TEST: The sponge is light and the buttercream velvety smooth, but overwhelmingly sweet. The jar is so tall the spoon I’m using doesn’t reach all the way inside and I end up with cake crumbs all over my hands.
RATING: Cute and perfect for a children’s party favour, but too sickly sweet for grown-ups.2/5
Cherry Bakewell cake jar, £12 for 2 (£6 each), buttercup-cakes.net
Sarah said Cherry Bakewell cake jar (pictured) is the ultimate cake-lover’s treat
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? Almond sponge, almond buttercream and black cherry jam, piled high and sealed in a jar with a gold lid.
Buttercup Cakes is a family business in the Peak District, which only started selling cake jars last year after its wedding orders dwindled. Founder Linda Ashcroft says they’ve been a hit during lockdown, with many customers describing them as a ‘hug’ in a jar.
At 190ml, the portions come with two spoons — but you won’t want to share.
TRANSPORT TEST: These are meant to be stored in the fridge, so I don’t want to take mine too far. Squeezed into a picnic hamper on its side, it survives intact.
TASTE TEST: I’m not usually a Bakewell fan but in cake form it’s mouth-watering, with the jam and icing stopping the sponge from becoming too dry. I save half for later and it’s just as delicious second-time round.
RATING: The ultimate cake-lover’s treat.4/5
Chocolate orange cake jar, £5.50 from jacksbakery.co.uk
Sarah said chocolate orange cake jar (pictured) is a case of quantity over quality
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? Soft chocolate sponge with chocolate-orange buttercream icing. Each jar has three layers of delicious ingredients inside — and, at 460ml, they’re the biggest of the lot, so there’s plenty to go around. Other flavours include mint chocolate, Galaxy, Maltesers and Milky Way.
TRANSPORT TEST: Baker Jack says this will last up to two weeks. But the layers aren’t as neat as some other jars, with buttercream smeared over the insides on arrival. A few hours en route to a picnic and there are no leaks, but it’s looking a little worse for wear.
TASTE TEST: Without a layer of fruity curd, this is a little dry and the sponge slightly too dense. I was hoping it would taste like a Jaffa Cake, but the orange flavouring is too subtle.
RATING: Sounds delicious, but it’s simply a case of quantity over quality.2/5
Rainbow cake jar, £4, thepuddingparlour.com
Sarah said rainbow cake jar (pictured) is beautiful to look at but was lacking a little in flavour
WHAT’S IN THE JAR? With five multi-coloured layers in a 13cm-high jar, these glorious rainbow cake jars have become a viral sensation on social media. Made by siblings Kristy and Greg at Northumberland-based The Pudding Parlour, these combine rainbow sponge with a generous dollop of plain buttercream.
TRANSPORT TEST: As the glass jars are tall and thin, these aren’t the easiest to transport (or eat), yet the lid keeps everything locked inside. But after a few hours in my handbag, the layers are all wonky.
TASTE TEST: Despite the garish colours, the cake doesn’t taste at all of food colouring. But although the sponge is crumbly and there’s not enough buttercream for my liking, it’s still delicious — and a guaranteed hit with children or anyone who needs cheering up.
RATING: Beautiful to look at but sadly this one was lacking a little in flavour.3/5
Try your own hand in the cookie jar
Hampshire-based Katie Bakes (pictured) offers all the dry ingredients needed to make your own treat
If eating sponge with a spoon from a jar sounds too uncouth, don’t worry: you can still jump on the bandwagon without giving up your fork. Hampshire-based Katie Bakes offers cake jars with a difference: all the dry ingredients you need to make your favourite sweet treat, measured out inside a glass Kilner jar. These do involve a little baking, and you’ll need the wet ingredients (butter, eggs and milk) to hand. But all you have to do is tip the contents into a bowl and follow the instructions on the label, taking the stress — and the faff — out of making a cake (£13.50 per jar, katie-bakes.co.uk).
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