From Arkansas to Sweden via an Irish Chef: Swedish Apple Cake

The farmers market closest to our house is not open year round; it closes for a few weeks in early spring. During that break last month, my husband and I walked to a market further away that we don't normally frequent. But two vendors there had beautiful Arkansas Black apples, a cultivar that I almost never see around here. I brought a bagful home and then had to decide what to make with them.

I decided to try Rachel Allen's recipe for "Swedish Apple Cake." It's a single layer cake with diced apples in the batter and sliced apples on top. To make the batter, you mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar; add two diced apples; and mix in melted butter and eggs. The recipe does not include salt, but I added a pinch. You transfer the batter to a parchment-lined 10-inch pan, lay sliced apples on top, and bake.
While the cake is in the oven, you make a glaze that you're supposed to pour over the cake while it's still warm. It seemed so straightforward and yet I totally failed at it twice. To make the glaze, you melt 25 grams of butter (that's less than two tablespoons), add three tablespoons of caster sugar and stir until dissolved, and then add cinnamon. I didn't have caster sugar so I used regular granulated sugar. But whatever I did, I could not get the sugar to dissolve in that small amount of butter before the sugar got all grainy. In my first attempt, I actually burned it. 
Instead of trying a third time, I improvised. I made a small amount of simple syrup (one fluid ounce of water and three tablespoons of sugar), and then added 25 grams of butter and some cinnamon. It worked out fine and I brushed it on the warm cake. The cinnamon in the glaze deposited quite a bit of color on the top of the cake, including on the apple slices. 

While there was a lot of diced apple in the cake, I thought most of the apple flavor seemed to come from the slices on top. The cake was not as apple forward as I had hoped, but it was very good. While it was somewhat dense, it was moist, nicely spiced with cinnamon, and not too sweet. I thought it was a fine use of my special apple supply.
Recipe: "Swedish Apple Cake" from Cake by Rachel Allen.