Why Everyone's Setting Their Cakes On Fire

Burn away cakes are TikTok's favorite visual stunt with a sweet finish.

People are burning their cakes all over TikTok, and it's surprisingly pretty cool. This latest TikTok food trend sends a message within a message and has people's baked goods ablaze all over the internet, all thanks to the creativity of one Illinois baker.

Denise Steward, a cake artist based in central Illinois, originated the burn-away cake trend mere weeks ago. Steward uploaded her first burn-away cake video to social media on December 28, 2023. The cake had black frosting, disco balls, confetti decorations, and featured a layer of wafer paper on top that read, "3...2...1." Once Steward lit the surface with a match, the flame ate away at the wafer paper to reveal a decoration on the icing underneath that read "In my 2024 era," a reference to Taylor Swift's Eras Tour. From there the baking world was ablaze with excitement.

If you're already a fan of baking homemade cakes, then making a burn away cake is a fairly simple process. The trendy confection is just a standard buttercream-frosted cake with an image or message printed on edible paper adhered to the surface. The key is to decorate the cake with a thick border of piping all around the edge to create space between the surface of the cake and the layer of wafer paper that will be burned away. Once the paper has been set on top, and then decorated with its own border of piped icing. Here's a tutorial on Instagram.

Getting your hands on a special printer for edible paper is the tricky part for home bakers, but one professional baker told the Washington Post that before she bought her own printer, she would ask her local grocery store to print images for her.

The trend has gained such viral fame that even some celebrities have hopped onto it. Former talk show host Ellen Degeneres celebrated her 66th birthday with a burn-away cake, the top of which read "Happy Birthday" before slowly burning away to reveal "Ellen" printed underneath in decorative lettering.


So...how's everyone doing? #elmo #sesamestreet #mentalhealth #burnawaycake

♬ original sound – Cocobelly Cakes

The possibilities for what image or message the cakes could reveal are endless and likely a large part of what has people on TikTok fascinated with them. The ability to burn away edible paper has existed for some time, after all, and social media has once again helped make an old trick newly popular. One burn-away cake video on TikTok features an image of the Charmander, a fire Pokemon, which is burned away to reveal its evolution, Charizard. This cake has almost 14 million views on the platform and received 2 million likes.

As far as TikTok food trends go, this latest one is probably the sweetest you'll come across.