It’s a hot cake! NYC bakeries swamped with orders for trendy ‘burn away’ cakes

They’re very hot cakes.

Burn-away cakes — confections where the top layer is lit on fire and burns away to reveal a hidden message or picture — have been a viral sensation on social media, and now NYC bakeries are being inundated with orders for the trendy treat.

“This one has been insane,” said Nerwan Khalife, the owner of Astoria’s Cakes by Nerwan. “Our phones have been going off the hook.”

Khalife — a 30-year-old French Culinary Institute grad who has designed cakes for Anna Wintour, Jennifer Lopez, Odell Beckham Jr., 50 Cent and the president of Albania, among many others — first learned about burn-away cakes in mid-January when her mother showed her a TikTok in a foreign language with the flashy cakes.

For Valentine’s Day, Cakes by Nerwan is selling a heart-shaped confection that says “Hey Sugar.” Cakes by Nerwan
For Valentine’s Day, Cakes by Nerwan is selling a heart-shaped confection that says “Hey Sugar.” Cakes by Nerwan
When lit on fire, the cake’s message changes to “Will you be my Valentine?” Cakes by Nerwan
When lit on fire, the cake’s message changes to “Will you be my Valentine?” Cakes by Nerwan

She reasoned she could create something similar by printing a design in edible ink on a thin layer of wafer paper, made from potato starch, that would catch fire and burn away to reveal another design on a sheet of edible sugar paper.

A fluffy layer of Swiss meringue buttercream would hold the images to the cake, and a bumper of the frosting around the edge of the cake could stop the fire from burning any further.

“It’s like a candle on a birthday cake, just a little bigger,” said Khalife. “It’s not gonna burn your house down.”

Nerwan Khalife has been fielding orders for custom burn-away cakes. Brian Zak/NY Post
Nerwan Khalife has been fielding orders for custom burn-away cakes. Brian Zak/NY Post
To make the cake, the top image is printed on edible wafer paper. Brian Zak/NY Post
To make the cake, the top image is printed on edible wafer paper. Brian Zak/NY Post
A bottom image is printed on sugar paper . Brian Zak/NY Post
A bottom image is printed on sugar paper . Brian Zak/NY Post

For Valentine’s Day, she is making 6-inch heart shaped burn-away cakes that say “Hey Sugar!” on the top layer, and then burn away to reveal a “Will you be my Valentine!” message.

They’re priced at $150 and her small Queens bakery has already received orders for nearly 80. Khalife plans to cap orders at 100.

“We’re trying to pace ourselves,” she said. “It’s just us.”

In recent weeks, she’s also done burn-away cakes for birthdays and gender reveal parties with sonogram pictures, and she’s working on custom designs for events in March. Prices start at $150 for small 6-inch cakes and go into the four digits for larger confections that can feed more than 100 people.

She’s doing a 30th birthday cake with a macabre theme: the top layer will read “Death to my 20s,” and then there will be a cheerier “Hello 30!” message beneath.

Over the years, Khalife has done cakes for a number of celebrities. Anna Wintour commissioned this cake for her son.
Over the years, Khalife has done cakes for a number of celebrities. Anna Wintour commissioned this cake for her son.

Khalife is also at work on a divorce celebration cake, which will feature an image of a marriage license that will flame away to read “single and free.”

“People are customizing it to anything and everything and we’re loving it,” she said.

Other New York spots are also jumping on the trend. Last Friday, Angelina Bakery in Hell’s Kitchen announced on Instagram that it, too, would be making burn-away cakes, showing off Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year designs. There was an immediate demand.

Angelina Bakery is doing burn-away cakes with dragons for Lunar New Year. Cakes by Nerwan
Angelina Bakery is doing burn-away cakes with dragons for Lunar New Year. Cakes by Nerwan
The dragon dissolves to reveal gold coins. Cakes by Nerwan
The dragon dissolves to reveal gold coins. Cakes by Nerwan

“As soon as we put it on social media, our cake orders increased by 300%,” Jefferson Cho, vice president of operations at Angelina Bakery, told The Post.

Khalife thinks we’ll be seeing more and more of these creative cakes. The longtime pastry chef has seen and done various trends over the years.

She’s made shoe-shaped treats, rustic “naked” cakes with fresh flowers and ultra-realistic 3D confections — including one that looked just like the board game Operation for Wintour’s doctor son Charles Shaffer.

But, she said she’s never seen a style catch fire as quickly as this one.

“It takes the cake.”