One of the best warm weather salads is ambrosia.It's a sweet concoction that usually finds it way to backyard barbecues and picnics. Take it one step further and transform this classic dish into a cake. It then becomes truly worthy of its' name - ambrosial food for the gods.
Melissa Clark wrote about it in her A Good Appetite Column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. I think it would be an excellent end to an Easter dinner, the cake's sweet fluffiness being a great foil to a salty ham and potato salad. Ambrosia, for those not familiar with this American classic, is a sweet salad that can be served before, with or after a meal. It's mostly made during barbecues or family buffets and every family has their own spin on the recipe. It's made with a heavy dose of tropical fruit, some kind of frosting and plenty of flaked coconut.Some go heavy with the fruit, going heavy with the orange slices and pineapple chunks along with adding extra banana slices. A few home chefs like the idea of crunch so pecans are thrown in while others turn their ambrosias technicolor with the addition of maraschino cherries Whipped cream is usually blended in but yogurt can be used as well. Of course, there's the flaked coconut that's added in by the cup (or cups).Imagine all this modified in a cake with a tangy curd filling along with a slug of coconut rum.It's iced in a fluffy meringue and then doused with sweetened coconut flakes.
The ambrosia element is modified. Ms. Clark decided on fewer elements and uses them with a slight difference than from the original recipe. She skips the cloying pineapple and banana but keeps the zingy citrus, going for seedless clementines over mandarins and oranges.She juices them to go into a tangy curd that will be used as the cake's filling. She suggests if you like the pineapple and banana, then add them but only to the filling to get the taste, The flour used is all purpose and there's only a tablespoon of baking powder added for leavening. It's a rich, eggy cake employing four of them.There's also a stick and a quarter of unsalted butter to give the crumb a golden color.The filling is again a curd, zested up with clementines and a third of a cup of lemon juice. the filling is butter rich too with a stick of unsalted butter used .The whites from the filling's yolks can go into making the frosting, a sweet fluff made over a simmering water bath.The frosting has to be immediately put on the cake and then press the coconut flakes on the sides and top. You can decorate with sliced clementines and strawberries.
Ambrosia cake is the perfect cake to serve on Easter Sunday. It's a rich blend of butter cake, fruit and curd, wrapped in a sweet and light marshmallow coating. Serve this dish - that's worthy of the gods/