Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and baking powder; stir together milk and coconut milk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in extracts.
Beat egg whites and salt at high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir about one-third egg whites into batter; fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
Bake at 350° for 18 to 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely.
Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter. Spoon 1/3 cup Vanilla Buttercream into a zip-top plastic bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe a ring of frosting around cake layer just inside the top edge. Top with half of Ambrosia Filling, and spread to edge of ring. Top with a second cake layer. Repeat procedure with frosting and filling. Top with remaining cake layer, and spread frosting on top and sides of cake.
I've been baking 40 years and never had this experience with icing a cake. First let me say that every part of the cake tastes great. The cake is tender and moist. The ambrosia filling is incredible on its own, and the buttercream icing is light and fluffy without being too sweet. The problem I had came when time to assemble the cake. Even though the filling and icing were chilled, once warmed up they became quite soft. They started sliding off the cake like an avalanche, and nothing I did would keep them up. This was extremely embarrassing because the cake was our dessert for Christmas dinner. I'm glad other bakers had better success than I did. I'd make the cake again but skip the filling and use a firmer icing.
This made a fantastic dessert for our Christmas dinner. I made the ambrosia filling the day before, with one addition: I chopped up about 5 maraschino cherries to mix in with the other fruit. The other change to the recipe was that I used an Italian meringue buttercream instead of the American style buttercream linked here. I'm glad I did, because I think the frosting would have been too sweet and heavy otherwise. The final cake turned out tasty and beautiful, and I would definitely make again for a special occasion.
I love to bake, and have made many different cakes over the years, and this is probably my all-time favorite. Although a little time-consuming, it is absolutely worth it. Note: Be sure to start the Ambrosia filling well in advance or the day before.
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