Pierre Herme’s melody cake

For birthdays within my family, it is somewhat unspoken that not only am I tasked (as always) to bake a delicious birthday cake, I am also usually expected to bake a cake I’ve never baked before!

As years go by and as the number of someday-I’m-definitely-going-to-bake-this-stunning-cake type of recipes are used up one by one, I found it especially hard to find the perfect cake for my mom’s birthday this year. I thought pretty long and hard, looked on the internet to look for the perfect recipe and when I couldn’t,  I turned to my pile of trusty baking books to gain some inspiration. It was just a couple of days before her birthday did I finally set my mind on which cake I was gonna bake – Pierre Herme’s Melody Cake.


The recipe for this cake was almost 10 pages long and referenced 3 different parts of the book. It had quite a number of components and while it was quite intimidating, I was so ready for a challenge! This cake turned out to be quite manageable, in hindsight, but I do recall being really nervous and careful as I was making all the different components and it definitely didn’t help that the recipe would say stuff like…”extremely fragile”. The cake consists of 7 layers (starting from the bottom): cinnamon cookie, genoise, twenty-hour apples, bavarian cream, genoise, cinnamon cookie, sliced apples.


It’s been a while since I spent so long and devoted so much concentration to baking just 1 cake. I must say that with this recipe, I had finally put my basic baking techniques to good use – rolling out the super delicate cinnamon dough and handling it with so much care as it’s super fragile (and it didn’t break!), cutting the not-that-tall genoise into 3 parts, etc.


I especially enjoyed preparing the twenty-hour apples. Yes, 20 hours – 10 hours baking time at a very low temperature and 10 hours resting time. I re-read the recipe many times as I couldn’t really believe what I was reading. Just the thought that I would have to bake a 8″x 8″ square tray of many apples for ten hours just seemed so exciting to me.

Not a great picture but here’s the cross section of the cake:


The cake, with all its layers together, tasted pretty delicious. There were so many different textures in the cake, it just made me want to separate the layers out so that I could analyze each part carefully. To be honest, I’m not too sure if I’ll bake this cake again…maybe next time but definitely with some changes. Since the genoise layer sits on the cookie dough without any to “glue” it together, it was difficult keeping the cake together when slicing it. Perhaps adding more of that bavarian cream to stick the layers together will do the trick!


More next time on what my mom got for her birthday!

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