“Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an art. And like any art, it takes not only inspiration, but also a lot of work.” - Paulo Coelho 

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This couple wanted a cake that exemplified the essence of Portugal. It was to be a destination wedding, with guests coming from over 12 different countries. Portugal was chosen due to it's conveniently central location, inherent old-world beauty, abundance of welcoming locals, and a charm that rivals anywhere in Europe.

A labor of love, this edible masterpiece took about 18 months to transform from the many emails, FaceTime "meetings" and brainstorming sessions into a breathtaking reality. A stupendous interpretation of all the romance, beauty and culture that Portugal has to offer. Inspiration that surrounds me daily, and that I had the pleasure of interpreting in the form of edible art.  

The couple wanted to incorporate the blue and white Portuguese "azulejo" tiles on their cake, but they wanted two different kinds. The first style of azulejo would be a geometric pattern, which I created for them and had made into a stencil so I could hand paint the patten with precision onto the cake layers. The second type would be a more scenic, story-telling type of azulejo. This proved challenging for me, and I spent a lot of time studying Portuguese azulejos, photographing, editing in Photoshop, reconstructing each panel, tile by tile, until perfect. 

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Inspiration was taken from a monastery in Lisbon, and I spent multiple afternoons wandering around the beautiful cloisters and grounds, breathing in the incredibly awe-inspiring hand-painted tiles that covered every surface of this hidden gem. In 20 years, how had I never visited this site?! Now it's one of my favourite places.

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The bride told me she wanted sugar flowers for their cake, mainly in tones of blue and white, with green accents. She left the choice of flowers with me, and I chose to make magnolias, parrot tulips, roses, ranunculus, anemone, billy balls, brunea and filler buds.

Every petal is made one by one. Rolled paper thin, cut out, veined and edges ruffled and thinned, wired, then set in flower formers to dry. Once dry, they are individually dusted with edible dust, then assembled with floral tape, needle nosed pliers and a whole lot of patience and care not to break anything! They are super fragile and very life-like.

It's amazing what a little color can do - for example, a white magnolia, without any color, is just flat. With a subtle touch of pale moss green, pale buttercup yellow and even the tiniest amount of burgundy, and the flower comes to life. 

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I like to roughly arrange the flowers on a piece of styrofoam before applying straight on the cake. It helps to see color balance, volume, overall flow and feeling of the arrangement before committing to the cake! Sometimes it changes a bit once I start working on the cake, usually I add more filler buds to the bouquet as I go, but the overall concept of how to arrange the flowers is decided like this so I can adjust more easily.

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The couple also asked for a sugar teacup full of sugar flowers to be made and placed as the cake topper. I decided to use the geometric pattern from the cake on the sugar teacup and saucer, and then filled the cup with sugar flowers. It was really realistic - as I was setting up the cake, some of the guests who were passing by stopped and commented on how they couldn't believe it wasn't a real cup and saucer. It's amazing what you can do with sugar!

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There’s just so much to love about Portugal, don’t you think? Here’s how I see it, my latest cake masterpiece - almost brought me to tears when I finished it! After 18 months of planning and endless hours of work, every little detail handmade in sugar, made with lots of love, for a super special couple. Thank you for choosing me, and for trusting me to create such an incredible cake. I love Portugal, and I’m so glad you saw the beauty that I have been surrounded by for the past 20 years.

O meu coração pertence a Lisboa! 

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Every cake tells a story.

Wedding venue: Tivoli Palacio de Seteais, Sintra
Wedding cake: Julie Deffense Artistry
Photos: Julie and Jacques Deffense

All images and design concept copyright of Julie Deffense Artistry, LLC 2018 and may not be copied/reposted/published without prior consent from Julie Deffense.