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What are burn-away cakes? TikTok’s latest confection fad

The internet is fired up over a new flaming edible – burn-away cakes.

TikTok fanatics are dubbing classic two-tiered cakes with brush embroidery as being out in 2024. Cakes with flammable toppings that are Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Pokemon-themed are taking over.

Last week, Ellen DeGeneres celebrated her 66th birthday with a cake that burned a layer to reveal her name written in cursive on a coat of icing. In photos from the festivities, a blue and white circle cake was pictured with a mostly burnt “Happy Birthday” message. Under the charred icing, another decorated layer was revealed with “Ellen” printed in the middle.

The celebrity’s unique confection is just one of many to be baked and shared online in the past month. Cooking connoisseurs have taken over TikTok, setting their intricate cakes aflame with one wafer layer melting away to expose another with a different picture underneath. Already, the “burn-away cake” hashtag on TikTok has more than 180 million views globally.

User @cakesbynams has filled their page with different versions of the edible. Among their many creations is a Mean Girls-inspired cake. The top layer is designed to look like the cover of the iconic Burn Book, embellished with the lips print and everything. In the video, the middle of the cake slowly burns back to expose Regina George’s page printed underneath.

Speaking to Today, Namaya Navaratnaraja, the account holder, explained how they named the dessert after seeing videos of another creator making their cake for the holidays. “I first came across Denise’s Delights’ burn-away cake right before New Year’s, and I thought that was really impressive,” she noted. “At the time, they weren’t known as burn-away cakes but I decided to give it a title. I was like, ‘Well, you’re burning something away.’ So it was just right there for me.”

Denise Steward isn’t considered the original inventor of the burn-away cake, but she was among the first who went viral on TikTok for it. She was inspired by a Spider-Man cake she’d seen that had wires made to look like webs shooting out of the baked good.

Steward, who worked as an ambassador for the edible decoration company Paper 2 Eat, used one of the layer pieces sold by the brand when trying to achieve her burn-away cake. First, Steward used cemented a thick layer of icing on the cake. Then, she laid a border of piping for a clean burn. Finally, Steward topped the confection with a standard wafer paper sheet.

She told Today: “I noticed when you put the wafer paper that they have on a cake, the longer it sits, the more it pulls away and doesn’t want to absorb moisture.”

“This was literally the first try. I was just on a whim trying to make it work … and it did,” she continued.

For an overview of how to make your burn-away cake, Paper 2 Eat published short instructions.

The Independent has contacted Steward and Navaratnaraja for comments.