Many thanks to Elena, who gave this recipe to my mom, who practically forced me to make it. This cake is deceiving: its ingredient list and instructions are so short and sweet, you could make it blindfolded. But don't let the ease deceive you; this cake is definitely better than the sum of its parts. Throw the ingredients in a bowl, mix (by hand!), chop the fruit, throw it all into a springform (or regular pan), bake, and voila, a perfect dessert is yours.
Make sure your fruit are ripe; this will really add to the overall flavor and moistness of the cake. Also, as this recipe is so darn basic, feel free to improvise! Here are my favorite variations:
-pears, lots and lots of pears
-plums and peaches
-blueberries and pears
-raspberries and peaches
You get the drift -- do whatever you like. One last note: I tend to arrange sliced fruit on the bottom of the springform, so that when I turn the cooled cake onto a serving platter, the bottom (now the top) looks pretty. This is entirely optional. In fact, I didn't do it this time because my pears were very ripe, and too delicate to mess around with. If you're using a regular, non-springform pan, you can do as my mother does, and arrange fruit on top of the batter. They will sink in a little as the cake bakes, but you'll still be able to see them.
The Easiest Cake Ever
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tspoon baking powder
1 tspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
3 cups of fruit, any variety, but soft and juicy!
Combine all the above ingredients, reserving 1 cup of the sliced fruit.
Grease and flour a 9" round or rectangular baking pan or springform pan.
At this point, EITHER:
1) pour in batter and add the last cup of fruit on top OR
2) arrange the remaining sliced fruit in spiral design in the springform, and pour batter overtop.
I sometimes sprinkle a bit of sugar ontop for a crunchy crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
I often serve this cake with a fruit sauce or reduction; it's pictured here with quince sauce, and I'll post that recipe soon.