Cathy Burnheimer is turning the cake world upside-down.

Courtesy Cathy Burnheimer

Her innovative cake designs push the boundaries and defy gravity.

“We’ve done chandelier cakes that have hung inverted,” said Cathy Burnheimer. “One was at the Omni William Penn for a wedding. It was a five-tier cake that hung from the chandelier.”

The Omni William Penn is a 23-floor hotel located in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The grand hotel has been host to many visiting luminaries including John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, Mick Jagger and Ewan McGregor—just to name a few.

Brides and grooms and other “high society” events regularly rent the famous balconied Grand Ballroom.

The hotel was designed in a Renaissance Revival style—which means ornate, Classical details everywhere and tall, interior arches. Impressively decorated ceilings and cornices set the scene for a formal affair. (If you’re lucky enough to visit, be sure to look up!)

“To have the Omni as my inspiration and my backdrop was great. With the architecture and all of the detail work, we were able to give the couple something really special,” said Burnheimer. “They gave us artistic freedom, and I appreciated that.”

To make her works of art, Burnheimer has teamed with an internationally awarded clay sculptress “because chocolate and clay are fairly interchangeable,” she said.

Also on staff is a fine arts painter born and raised in India, who is highly skilled in traditional henna design.

“These talents allow us to do something different. We do high design cakes.”

But Burnheimer’s innovations aren’t just icing deep.

Her business started more than a decade ago when she fell short finding an egg and wheat-free birthday cake for her daughter.

“There was no place 11 years ago to find a cake like that,” said Burnheimer. “So I had to make one.”

Today, her home-based, fully-licensed bakery, Frosted Envy, is able to accommodate the many trending diets and lifestyles with gluten, wheat, tree nut, peanut, egg and/or dairy-free cakes. Burnheimer is working to become Kosher certified by the end of the year.

“No one is serving these markets in Pittsburgh. There’s a need, and I want to offer that.”

With her cake business whipped in to shape, Burnheimer is now looking to give brides and grooms an alternative in wedding day desserts.

Cupcakes aren’t new to the wedding scene, but to be able to create your own cupcake with gourmet toppings—that’s something she’s betting will be a hit.

“Food stations are so popular at weddings right now. Food trucks are everywhere. What people love is the interaction,” said Burnheimer. “I thought, what can my business offer? That’s when it dawned on me.”

The interactive cupcake station can be fully customized, but Burnheimer offered a few descriptions of what a “gourmet cupcake topping” might be.

“Think: mixed berry compote, egg-free cookie dough, German chocolate coconut cake with caramel drizzle. Or maybe it’s a kid’s birthday and we do vanilla cupcakes with something crazy like Nerds.”

And what does Burnheimer make when she wants to have her cake and eat it too?

“My favorite is a chocolate cupcake with Guinness buttercream frosting and dark chocolate shavings,” said Burnheimer.

It sounds like the future of Cathy’s cupcakes will bring all kinds of sweet success.

Frosted Envy is giving away a 100 topping cupcake bar. Check back Monday for details.




Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.