When I started looking at recipes to adapt I could literally feel my arteries hardening and my pancreas screaming at the recommended amount of sugar and oil for the caramel layer. Seriously, 1/2 a cup of oil and a cup of brown sugar? Ick! So I decided to see if I could make a good cake with a fraction of those amounts. And as it turns out, I can. It does not have that caramel syrup that you might expect, but it is still very sweet and nectarines carmelize well with the reduced amount of sugar.
The cake is a bit tricky in that the wetness of the nectarines can make estimating the proper cooking time tricky. I would tell you that longer is likely better than shorter and that you really really need to be sure that the center is completely done before unmolding the cake. Not that I unmolded an underdone cake or anything….
I used a vanilla cake mix as a base, and I used Namaste because the mix avoids all the allergens. That said, I have not tried an egg free version of this as I find most vanilla mixes struggle with egg replacer. Chocolate is oddly fine..only vanilla becomes like shortcake. That said, this would probably be great as a shortcake anyway.
1/8 cup coconut oil (or Spectrum Butter flavor shortening if you need to avoid coconut)
1/3 cup brown sugar
another 1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup bottled pineapple juice (or nectarine juice, or peach juice or water)
2/3 cup water (or juice, but juice makes the cake really sweet)
2 tsp fresh grated lemon rind (optional)
One package Namaste Vanilla Cake Mix (enough for two layers)
One 9 x 13 stainless steel baking pan (you can use ceramic or nonstick but cooking times will change and with nonstick it might burn)
Skewer for testing doneness
Measuring cups and spoons
Paring knife and cutting board for slicing nectarines
Grater for grating lemon rind
Melt the 1/8 cup coconut oil and put it in the bottom of the 13 x 9 inch pan. Roll it around a bit to oil up the sides as well.
Sprinkle the brown sugar as evenly as reasonable across the bottom of the pan
Slice the nectarines into half moon shapes and put them on the bottom of the pan on top of the sugar and the oil. Make a single layer but make the slices reasonably thick (more than 1/8 inch). What you lose is straight brown sugar you make up for in caramelized fruit.
Preheat oven to 350
Put the eggs in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until scrambled
Add the melted 1/2 cup coconut oil while the mixer is running
Add the pinapple juice, water and lemon rind
Add cake mix and mix for about two minutes on medium.
Pour cake mix batter into pan on top of nectarines and spread out to the edges of the pan.
Bake at 350 for about 35 – 45 minutes or until cake tester tests done. It should be bubbling around the sides and a tan color on top. Stick the tester in all the way and in the middle. If there is any dowbt, keep baking. I have never had one done in less than 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes
Unmold onto serving pan.
Cool before serving
Cake will be brown from all the sugars in the nectarines, pineapple juice and the brown sugar.