How to do you turn a can of fruit into a yummy frosted cupcake in a pop-top can surprise? Is it magic?
(Product links below are Amazon affiliate links to help support our blog without additional cost to you.)
Nope, just a little craftiness. = )
My niece and nephews all share birthdays in September, and because of the start of school, we are normally never able to celebrate in person. Last year I sent them all a “birthday in a box” filled with everything they would need to have their own mini-party celebration. This year, I decided to actually mail a birthday cake surprise…. in a can!
Have you ever baked a cake in a can? I’ve seen it done on Pinterest before, but I actually wanted to send the whole can, and make it a surprise to open the can with the cake inside.
The trick is to start with a can that has a pop-top already, and to use a safety can opener that doesn’t leave a sharp edge. This is the exact can opener I used, but I know you can find it in different brands as well. It safely and easily removes lids, leaving a smooth edge that is suitable for resealing with a plastic lid, or in this case, attaching back on the can. Canned fruit is a good choice to start with, and I wanted to make sure the cans I used had pop-tops. I used 15 oz cans of peaches and fruit cocktail. I emptied out the fruit and saved it for lunches later, and cleaned and dried out the cans to use for baking. Make sure to use a can that started with food in it, so that you know the metal is safe to bake in.
The other key trick is to remove the lid from the BOTTOM of the can, leaving the pop-top intact. And don’t forget, save the bottom lids!
After the cans were clean and dry, with bottom lids removed, I made sure to coat them with cooking spray.
I mixed up some Funfetti cake mix together and filled the cans about 1/2 full. I baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Then, before popping them out of the can, I let them cool in the cans first. I popped them out, using a knife around the edges if necessary, and then let them cool completely.
Part two of my cake in a can DIY is the crafty part. I cleaned and dried out the cans again before assembling my birthday cake surprises.
I put fun colored sprinkles and sugar cupcake candy decorations on the bottom of the can. Note: I put the cupcake candy decoration upside-down so that it would be at the top of my can when opened.
Then I squirted in chocolate icing on top of the sprinkles at the bottom of the can. I used enough to cover all of the decoration and fill the bottom.
Then I placed the cooled cake back into the can, with the bottom of the cake showing.
Finally, I placed the lid back on and used clear packing tape to secure. Because I was putting food back into the can, I didn’t want to use glue to reattach the lid. The tape was safer.
Now, you can send off a can with a cute birthday label right? I created four different free printable birthday labels that you can download and print here:
Free Printable Cake in a Can Happy Birthday Labels
Print out the labels, cut them out, and wrap around the finished cake cans. I used pretty washi tape to secure, but clear tape would work too.
Then all the birthday recipient has to do is pop the top and enjoy the cake! Surprise!
I mailed one off to my niece, and told her I wanted to Facetime with her while she opened her surprise. Her facial expression was priceless. She really thought I send her a can of beans!
When she popped the top, she was pleasantly surprised and gobbled the cake right up!
While I was testing out the cupcake-in-a-can surprise, I had my tween and two of her neighbor friends test it out for me first.
I gave them each a can and a fork and the result was a two-thumbs up!
This was a fun birthday surprise to make and to send. And clean-up was easy too. Once they were done with the cake, I simply just needed to recycle the can.
Try out this yummy birthday surprise craft for someone special. So easy to transport and enjoy!
Looking for another fun way to upcycle something ordinary and fill it with a tasty treat? I love these Strawberry Treat Cups from Crafts by Amanda that started as ordinary red plastic cups. So cute and clever!
If you liked this post, and want more, you can subscribe to be on our mailing list here.
Feeling social? Follow ChicaCircle on Facebook or Twitter, and follow me on Pinterest or Instagram.
I think you are the smartest person I know! What a clever and wonderful idea! I can imagine the smiles this brings! I’m checking out my calendar now to see who I can send one too!
Thanks Anna. You are pretty special yourself!
That is cool!!
Love this!!! You guys are amazing!
I think I’m going to make this for my daughter’s teachers birthdays!
How many cans does one box mix make?
If I wanted to make these but only 1 at a time, how would I do that? Could I store the mix already made in the fridge or what?
One cake mix makes about 5 cans. Yes, you can save already made mix in the fridge for a short period of time.
Do you know how long? I have approx a month between birthdays.
I wouldn’t leave batter in the fridge for more than a few days, but you may want to just consider making a small batch of batter, and keep the dry mix in your pantry in a container. I’ve done that before, and that will last much longer.
Yu could also bake the cakes and store them without the can in the freezer for several months.
YYou could make the cakes ahead of time and freeze them afterwards then thaw out when ready to send your birthday can. Just a thought so you wouldn’t have to leave batter in frige.
LOVE this idea. How did you mail it? Did you put it in a box first or did you just wrap the can?
I found a box the perfect size to mail my birthday surprise can to my niece. Unlike the sponge cake postcard, I didn’t want to chance sending this one in the mail without it being packaged in a box.
This is just the cutest idea!!! I love it!!!! What a fun way to serve and eat cake!!! And I love the birthday “can” labels, they are adorable!!! Very cute idea!!!! 🙂
This is SUCH A GREAT IDEA!!! My niece and nephews live out of town and all of their birthdays are within a month of each other, too. I really can’t wait to try this out and send it to them! Thank you so much for sharing!!
Thanks Danielle for the great comment! Your niece and nephews will love it!
I would like to recommend that one consider not using a pop-top can (especially for children) to avoid the difficulty of pulling open the pop-top, but most importantly to avoid the sharp edges on the lid and inside rim of the can. Little fingers (and adult fingers, too) will be tempted to wipe out all the yummy sprinkles and frosting. Using the safety can opener to open the top would be a safer choice. Just a thought. Such a great idea for that special surprise!
I helped my daughter pop the top, but didn’t experience any sharp images from the can. My kid testers were so focused on eating the cake out of the can with a fork. = )
This is the most creative idea I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t wait to try this. You are BRILLIANT!!!
I would love to make some of these and send them to my son who is deployed. How well do they hold up when mailed?
They held beautifully while being mailed. Great idea! As long as you secure back up properly, you should be fine. Mine were filled from top to bottom with cake and frosting and then sealed back up.
AWESOME idea!! Can you also add a lid on the can, so the cake stays more fresh after baking? 🙂 And what kind of lid can you use for it? 🙂 Can you save this for a long time, more days/weeks or do you need to eat it quick after baking?
I actually replaced the exact lid that the can with and taped it back in place to secure and keep the cake fresh. The trick is using a safety can opener that lets you open a can without any sharp edges.
Can you Only use ready-to-use-icing or make your own icing with some ingredients… I dont know what you can use for this? and then add it between the cakes? 🙂
Absolutely, you can use your own homemade frosting. I would just put it in a piping bag, or a sandwich bag with the tip cut off so that you can easily squirt it in the bottom of the can. Great idea!
These would be great fun for a baby gender reveal party. Use pink or blue icing and baby type sprinkles.
If you plan on making your own icing or fillings, remember that things like butter and cream cheese and fresh fruit can go bad fairly quickly when not refrigerated. I’d be cautious not to give anyone food poisoning. Maybe don’t send those ones abroad; stick to ingredients that can survive non-refrigerated trips on a truck in the middle east (hot climate zones) to send to loved ones stationed there. (The cans are not re-disinfected, re-heated, or re-sealed, so they won’t preserve food the way a can usually does.)
Just being safe. I love the idea, though. It could also work well for packing lunches (i.e. my own!)
Good point Hanna. Thanks for your input.
Wow! Thank you! I can’t wait to try this! 🙂
AH-MAZING!!! Was looking for cute craft ideas for my Junior’s Troop and came across this! They are working on their Simple Meals badge and will need an idea for a dessert. We are sooo doing this! I love that you can mail them, too. I don’t live near family but would love to send these to my nieces and nephews. Greatest…Aunt…Ever!!
Love it! Glad you found us!
Love your ideas 🙂 sister had a cake in the can, a few cakes postcards are ready to travel to the birthday girls. Best wishes from Croatia.
Love it. Thanks Anita!
Can not wait to make these. I think I would use some decorative duct tape to seal the can and decorate can with duct tape..
great idea! We love duct tape!
I just discovered this wonderful page the other day and decided to do these for my daughters bday party… I layered the cakes because, frosting! 🙂
I decided to prank my girl and her friends though, by leaving the original wrappers on the cans. Unfortunately, I failed at that, as I’ve pranked my girls a bit too often so they didn’t fall for it lol. They knew there must be something nice in the cans, but they were still pleasantly shocked to see the little cakes in there. Thanks for posting this 🙂
This is awesome!! I’m not a fan of cake, but I would love to try eating it in a can!!
I love this. I’m going to make them for girls birthday and I’m gonna mail it to my best friend who moved away. Thank you for sharing.
I am still confused from time you baked and sealed them and mailed them what is time frame they are still edible. What chance of them spoiling in a week or two or less?
Love this idea. Going to do this for my granddaughter, but I’ll cut the cake in half and do the sprinkles/frosting 1/2 way down the can for an additional fun surprise.
You are brilliant! This will be the perfect crownpiece for my college daughter’s birthday care package!
This is one of the coolest presentation for a personalized birthday cake I have ever seen! I will have to try this out. How creative! 🙂
This is so cool!! I think it would be fun to use for party favors too!!!
This idea is super cute! I love the how surprise of opening it and seeing a cake!
Would it be possible to make this a layer cake in a can? This sounds wonderful – I can hardly wait to try it!
Ooh, sounds interesting! I will have to try that!
These are wonderful! You are a very sweet person to share this idea.
I’m sending these in the mail to my siblings.
Love how you attached the print outs. Came in handy!
Thanks sooooo much for sharing your wonderful idea!!!
ohhh how cute : )
I found you on StumbleUpon. This is beyond FAB. I love both options and the expression on the kid’s faces is priceless. Thank you for a great idea.
The children’s faces as they eat the cake is the best part of this post. What beautiful smiles they all have. It’s amazing what a little cake can do to our moods. 🙂
Hey there Pauline ! Love your little official cake testers. Seems as they love that “job”. This is such a great idea. If I use an electric opener, do you think that would be a problem? Or a good old manual one??? The recipient would be opening from the top. I would be the one that had to use caution with the top, or in this case, bottom.Let me know your thoughts. Thanks again. ~ Holly
Just be careful on the edges when using an electric opener. It should be fine as long as you tape it back up carefully, and then the recipient can still open it with the pop top on the other side.
Hope that helps.
So cuteeee, I love it!
Love this idea!! Plan to do this for my daughter’s mustache party this sunday, ( need 25) lol, but I think that is a lot of cake per child. Do You Think it Would Work With A 10 or 8 oz can?
absolutely! My daughter couldn’t finish here whole cake can. A smaller can would work just the same, just the printable I designed would be too big, but you could decorate with fun paper or tape.
Hi. Love the Idea.. but one question. Has anyone made these ahead of time? how long will theses store and best method of storing. I have a birthday party to plan for and wanted to maybe make these about 2 days early.
2 days should be fine. I made these, and mailed them to my niece and nephews for their birthday, and it took 2 days to get to them. They arrived perfect and still yummy as ever!
This is so cool! I never would have thought about something like this. I definitely have to try this!
I totally love this idea and plan on sending some cake off to my nephew in college. You are a genius 🙂 Also, my mom has been baking breads in coffee cans for years and years. Who knew?!!
Such an amazingly, cute idea. Thanks for sharing!
This is brilliant. Thank you so much! They turned out great! Thank you for the labels too!
I am so excited to do this for my daughter’s birthday at college. I think I’m going to cut the cakes in half and put more frosting in the middle. Make a canned layer cake! 🙂 Kids love the frosting!