Cake Decorators Spotlight - Karin Klenner

Animal Attraction

When I think of realistic animal cakes, there is one New Zealand cake decorator that immediately springs to mind: Karin Klenner from Sweet Little Treat based in Hamilton.  

THE CHIMP CAKE. Swooon! Just when I think she's made my favourite cake EVER, she goes and makes another one that makes my cakey heart flutter.    

The best part?  When Karin isn't busy creating cakes for her clients, she  also teaches!  If you've ever wanted to learn some cool tips on creating animal cakes that look like they are going to hop off the cake board, she is hitting the road this Winter 2016 with her realistic bunny class all over New Zealand. But I'll warn you: her classes fill quickly, so get an email notification and don't miss out.

Bakels Pettinice has always been my preferred fondant, it's perfect for covering my tricky novelty cakes as it blends together and firms up so well. I love the colour range as a base to create any colour I want; I find I use my gel colours less now which saves on cost and mess! It makes gorgeous pastels when mixed with white and vibrant dark colours that don't fade. - Karin Klenner

Karin has always been a huge animal lover and because of this, when she has a new cake project she loves to study and learn how they move, how they sit, and how they behave. Karin says “every single animal cake has surprised me at how well they came together.” She explains how translating their little personalities into sugar art is part of the process and her love for detail.

So it’s no surprise her passion for wildlife has also been passed on to her children and coming up with ideas for their party cakes is a real pleasure.

For instance, her son’s baby elephant first birthday cake was also full of cake “firsts” as it was Karin’s first realistic animal cake, her first structured cake, and her first published online cake tutorial created to raise funds for Operation Sugar (which you can purchase at .

Most of her animal cakes have been for personal family celebrations, and I asked if she found it hard to cut in to them at party time. “No!” she laughed, she has absolutely no problem chopping up her cakes. “It’s so cool you could eat it. It’s cake! It tastes good!”

However, she did add that a recent dog cake she made for a client was so admired, they refused to let anyone cut it. So much, that for the party they baked a quick banana cake to eat instead. She tells the client confided the cake is currently hiding in the freezer to this day. Her most challenging realistic animal cake was the recent chimpanzee cake Karin made for her son’s third birthday. Working out the structure and translating her vision on to real cake was the biggest thing.

Just doing an animal is one thing, but doing one with a strong personality is hard to get across. One little swipe of a modelling tool changes everything, and can make the animal look weird. So it really is attention to detail.

It’s clear how much Karin is in her element as every detail is just right – down the sweet little foot dangling over the cake board which suggests he just might stand up and have a lively game of hide-and-seek!

Although the cheeky Chimpanzee is her current favourite, she admits all her animal designs hold a special place in her heart and with each, Karin has pushed her artistic boundaries and limits beyond her comfort zone when creating them. As for which creature she has planned for the future, Karin says she is clearly addicted. “I will make whatever animal anyone asks for. My son Brax keeps asking for a crocodile for his birthday but being an animal lover himself, keeps changes his mind – so watch this space!” She has her heart set on a little baby goat, and I for one can’t wait to see it.


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You can find Karin on Facebook and Instagram. 
instagram sweetlittletreats


See her vintage cupcake topper tutorial.



Posted by Nina Blackburn on 21/12/2015

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