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How to Make the Viral Burn Away Cake

How to Make the Viral Burn Away Cake

We've all seen them all over our social feeds, but how exactly do the burn cakes work? And what is this burning cake paper made of? We're not expecting this viral burning cake trend to go anywhere, so going to talk you though exactly how to create one and the products needed to do so! 

What are Burn Away Cakes?

If you don't know the answer to this one, where have you been hiding lately? The new trending cake on the block is a cake created using edible images where the top layer of the cake is set-alight to reveal another edible image underneath with dramatic effect when it ‘burns away’. The craze has been used for gender reveals, milestone birthdays and popping THE question along with so many other unique and creative themes!

We created our very own Burn Away Cake to celebrate the popular BBC TV Show The Traitors, revealing the shows winner Harry Clark beneath the flames! While there may be some controversy surrounding this type of cake, we have been inundated with queries on how to create them and the best products to use, so we've created this guide for those of you who do wish to give it a try, too.

Our Traitor's Theme Burn Away Cake

Want to see our Traitor's Burn Away Cake in action? Head over to our Instagram post to see!

How Does the Burn Away Cake Work?

The trick to the Burn Away cake is knowing exactly what materials to use to create the effect. To break it down, the Burn Away cake consists of 3 main ‘layers’ - first your cake, second your ‘reveal image’ and lastly your ‘burn away’ image on top, separated with a ring or border of buttercream. We created the graphic below to help explain the burn cake structure!

Structure of How to Assemble the Viral Burn Away Cake

Layer 1 - Your Cake - first you need to bake and ice your cake as you normally would, ensuring to keep the top of the cake smooth and flat. A popular type of cake for this trend is a ‘lambeth’ style cake with vintage style buttercream piping, but really any nicely frosted cake with a smooth flat surface on top would suffice.

Layer 2 - Your ‘reveal’ image - this is the edible image which ‘appears’ when the top layer is burned. This needs to be printed on an icing sheet (see our EPS Premium Easy-Peel Icing Sheets) with edible ink. You want to use a good quality ink like EPS Edible Ink to ensure your edible image is clear and vibrant! Icing sheets are a thicker type of edible paper and will not catch on fire when the top image is burning, so it is important to use these for your bottom image.

Layer 3 - Finally, your ‘burn away' image needs to be printed on Wafer Paper. We tested a variety of thicknesses and found the EPS Wafer Paper 0.35mm burned best with very little of the burning image dropping onto the cake. You can also use the NEW EPS Wafer Paper Fine 0.3mm. Wafer paper is comprised of mainly potato starch so it burns easily when lit!

Buttercream border - To separate your bottom icing sheet image from your top wafer paper image, you will need to pipe a buttercream border around the outside to ensure there is enough space for the wafer paper to burn freely without touching the bottom image. You may also want to add an additional border on top of your wafer image to hold it in place, as well as any extra detailing to fill any gaps or for added decoration. 

Recommended Products - EPS Wafer paper (0.35mm) and EPS Premium Easy Peel Icing Sheets

How to Make a Burn Away Cake 

Now you're clued up on how the burn away cakes work, here's our step-by-step guide on how to make one for yourself! 

What You Will Need

How to Make 

  1. Bake your cake in your chosen size and shape. Stack and frost as usual - make sure the top of your cake is smooth and flat as this is where you will be adding your layers of edible images. Keep your cake at room temperature and not in the fridge prior to adding any edible images as condensation may cause your edible images to become wet and sticky.
  2. Create your two designs for your edible images in your chosen design software (we recommend Canva!) Your bottom design to be printed on the icing sheet  is your ‘revealed image', so you want this to be the showstopper! Your top wafer paper image is the one which you will burn. Ensure when you create your design that you create this to the same size and shape of your cake, keeping any images in the centre, with a safe area around the edge to allow a border of buttercream once added to the cake. 
  3. Print your chosen designs using your edible printer.
  4. Allow the edible ink time to dry, if you are printing a full image on the wafer paper which you will be burning, we recommend you leave this overnight so it is fully dry before applying to your cake and burning. 
  5. Cut your edible images to the shape and size of your cake - you may wish to cut them slightly smaller for neatness, so there is no risk of the edible paper hanging over the edge of your cake once your border is added. You don't need to worry too much about the edges being neat as these will be covered by the buttercream order, but for ease the EPS Adjustable Circle Cutter can cut both types of edible images up to 6inch circles!
  6. If you don't intend to burn and serve your cake straight away, we would recommend you back your icing sheet image with a thin layer of fondant. Simply roll out your fondant, apply your icing sheet image and cut around using a sharp knife, like the EPS Craft Knife
  7. Place your bottom edible image (icing sheet) onto your cake ensuring it is smooth and there are no air bubbles. Pipe a border of buttercream around the image to allow a space before your next wafer paper image.
  8. Place your wafer paper image on top of the buttercream border, pressing lightly at the edges to ensure it is secured. 
  9. Pipe another border of buttercream to hold the wafer paper in place. You may also wish to add further borders within the gaps or to add extra decoration. 
  10. Now it's time for the magic… simply light the centre of your wafer paper image (or edge for a different effect) and watch it burn-away to reveal the image underneath to wow or surprise your guests! 

Burn Away Cake FAQs

Which type of edible paper do you use for the burning part of the cake? 

We recommend EPS 0.35mm Wafer Paper as this is the perfect thickness to burn effectively whilst being thick enough to ensure the design underneath is fully concealed. We also found the least amount of edible paper dropping on the cake when burning with this type of edible paper. You can also use our thinner EPS 0.3mm Wafer Paper Fine for a more cost-effective option. It is important to use wafer paper over icing sheets for the burning layer, as they are dryer and consist mainly of potato starch which burns easily.

Which type of edible paper do you use for the image underneath the burn away layer?

It's important to use an edible paper which won't catch fire when the top image is burnt, EPS Icing Sheets are the perfect paper for this as they are not as dry as wafer paper or other types of cake paper and also result in a brilliant print finish when printed with our quality Edible Inks, for a truly show-stopping reveal!

Are burn away cakes safe?

This is a biggie! Of course when handling any kind of open-flame it is important to take extra care. Ensure your cake is burned in a clear ventilated space, with no flammable materials close to or touching the cake. Avoid additional decorations around the cake and ensure young children are kept away while the burning takes place. The flames produced with this kind of cake are relatively weak, so there is little difference to burning a candle on a cake. There is also no evidence to suggest consuming burned food items like wafer paper has any harmful effects on health. Think of it like toasting a marshmallow or blow-torching a dessert! It is important to assess your own risks when it comes to selling or serving any type of cake and proceed with caution. You must only use 100% edible papers and inks when creating the burn cakes and not flash paper or any non-edible ink. 

Do the burn away cakes taste burnt?

When using our recommended edible paper (EPS Wafer Paper 0.35mm) there is very minimal paper dropped on the cake during the burning process. There will be a small ring of wafer paper left over under the buttercream which may have a slight burnt taste, but due to the sweetness of the other ingredients, this tastes comparable to a burnt marshmallow, so is not overly unpleasant. That being said, it is very easy to scrape away the ring of buttercream and even peel away your icing sheet image if you would prefer to serve your cake without any of the ‘burnt’ elements. 

Can you burn the cake more than once?

Yes! Absolutely. If you're wanting to get the most out of your cake, or use it for multiple celebrations before serving, you can scrape away the buttercream, peel off your icing sheet and start the process again! Our Premium Icing Sheets are thick enough to protect your cake during the burning process so the cake underneath will be unaffected.

Can you print the images for a burn away cake with a regular printer?

This is a big NO! Any printer used to print edible papers for use on a cake must be a dedicated edible printer that has only ever been used with edible ink. There are also only a few recommended types of printer models that are suitable for edible printing and deemed safe for use with food. You can find our selection of edible printer models on or website here. If you're just getting stated, we recommend our A4 Canon TS705a Edible Printer Starter Kit as this contains everything you need to create this cake in one affordable bundle (minus the cake!)

A4 Canon TS705a Edible Printer Kit

We hope we have covered everything you need to know about burn away cakes, but let us know in the comments if you have any other ‘burning’ questions! You can also join our community of bakers, cake decorators and foodie creators on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for more tips and inspiration!

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Can I store this kind of cakes in the fridge? As I heard the cake using wafer paper image should not be left in the fridge.

Hi Flora - we don't normally recommend leaving cakes with edible images inside a fridge due to the moisture which can effect the edible papers and inks, however if this is necessary you could put the cake in a cake box (not an airtight box) to protect it from the moisture.

Very nice cake

..,.....a very nice cake