There’s never a time in which a meal would not be improved by cake! This recipe is truly your go-to equation for a last minute sweet that can highlight whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. Here’s how it goes: fresh fruit, a quick caramel and the easiest cake batter that you’ve ever made. We stocked up on all our pantry staples like flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, so you can honestly throw this cake together right before your next dinner party and have it ready to flip by the time you’re done with your main course.
In this version, the first batch of ripe peaches of summer are sliced up at the bottom of a deep 8-inch cake pan, but you can easily swap out sliced figs, halved strawberries or whole blueberries for an equally stunning summer dessert (or pivot to apples and pears once fall comes around!). Then brush up your caramel skills, which couldn’t be easier to make, since it’s just sugar and a little water cooked until amber. Just don’t stir the caramel or it will crystalize; stick to shaking or swirling the pan if there are areas getting darker faster than others.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a high sided 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment. Line the bottom of the pan with a concentric circles of peach slices then arrange the remaining in the center.
In a medium saucepan, combine ¾ cup sugar with 2 tablespoons water over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan if needed, until an amber caramel forms, 5-6 minutes. Immediately pour over peaches in an even layer.
In a large bowl, whisk remaining 1½ cups sugar with butter until smooth. Add eggs and whisk until incorporated, followed by milk and lemon zest.
Add remaining ingredients to bowl and fold until just incorporated, then pour over the caramel-coated peaches. Bake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes, then run a paring knife along the edges of the cake. Place a plate over the cake pan and invert, discarding parchment paper. Let cool slightly, then serve warm.