this recipe, from Country Living, doesn't look much different to most apple cake recipes, but the addition of just two tablespoons of malt extract makes a huge difference to the character of the cake. The flavour becomes more complex and the sweetness has a bitter edge to it. In addition, using wholemeal flour and muscovado sugar makes the cake look dark and mysterious - you just know that it's going to taste different! If you have a favourite apple cake recipe, try replacing some of the sugar (say 50g) with malt extract to see for yourself.
The recipe wasn't completely trustworthy - I needed to add more than 2 tablespoons of milk to get a soft enough batter, the cake needed more like 75 minutes in the oven rather than the 45-60 minutes suggested, and I only sliced one apple for the topping and still had too many slices to use them all - perhaps my idea of a thin slice is different to Country Living's cook! When it came to cutting the cake, I found out why the apples used on the top needed to be peeled! I left the peel on to be sure the slices held together, but then couldn't cut through the apple to get neat slices of cake.
The photo of the cake, still in it's tin, isn't very good; there was no natural light by the time the cake came out of the oven, but I still wanted to photograph the cake before it was cut.
I think this cake recipe would also make a good traybake for a Bonfire party, topped with neat rows of apple slices - it would bake faster in a shallower tin, but it's pretty easy to check during baking so as not to overbake.