This Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe is super easy to make in one bowl only. It has an amazing light, fluffy texture and a fresh flavour with a hint of lemon. This ricotta cake is perfect to serve as dessert or afternoon tea cake.
Why we love this recipe
This classic Italian Lemon and Ricotta Cake is super a quick and easy dessert. What is there not to love about a cake that is made in one bowl only and has a deliciously light and fluffy texture!?
The classic combination of Lemon and Ricotta always works perfectly. Just like in my Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake, you get a light cheese taste with a touch of tang thanks to the addition of lemon.
It is a great way to finish a meal on a light note and makes the perfect treat to serve with your afternoon tea. Enjoy it on its own or topped with a berry sauce, fresh fruits, a tangy Lemon Curd or some whipped cream!
More Ricotta Recipes to try:
What is Lemon Ricotta Cake
Lemon Ricotta Cake is a traditional Italian desserts. It is known to have originated in Sicily but similar versions of the cake can be found in different regions of Italy. This recipe is simply made with wheat flour, but you can find different versions made with semolina or almond meal.
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What you will need to make ricotta cake:
- Butter: Unsalted Butter, very soft and at room temperature.
- Lemon: both the juice and the zest. Make sure to wash the lemon well before zesting it. You can use more zest for a stronger lemon taste if you want.
- Ricotta: Unsalted, Full Fat Ricotta (whole milk ricotta cheese), at room temperature. Don't use light or skim ricotta, you will loose both in flavour and texture. If your ricotta appears to be quite liquid (or has water floating around it), you can sieve it first and discard any extra water.
- Eggs: large eggs at room temperature.
- Flour: Plain / All Purpose Flour. his cake will work with Self-Rising Flour too, simply discard the baking powder and baking soda.
- Lemon Extract: for a stronger lemon flavour, add a few drops of lemon extract on top of the vanilla extract. It is quite strong though so be careful with how much you use!
- Flaked Almonds: a simple way to add more texture / extra crunch is to top the cake with flaked almonds before baking it.
- Icing Sugar / Powdered Sugar: dust it over the cake before serving. I also zested a lemon over the cake for extra freshness.
How to make Lemon Ricotta Cake
This Lemon Cake with Ricotta is quite easy to make in one bowl only. I used a hand mixer to combine all the ingredients but you could also make it in the stand mixer - or even by hands.
The mixer will come in handy to cream the butter and sugar that will give the cake its super fluffy crumb. It can be done by hands, but is much harder.
- Preheat your oven on 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 24 cm / 9" Springform Pan with Baking Paper and lightly grease the edges so the cake doesn't stick to the pan.
- Photo 1: Place the very soft Butter, Sugar and grated Lemon Zest in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your mixer).
- Photo 2: Cream them together on medium to medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. It should have increased in size.
- Photo 3 & 4: Add the room temperature Ricotta Cheese and continue to mix on medium speed for a couple of minutes.
You want to get a very light and fluffy mixture at this point. If under-mixed, the cake will not rise as much and the crumb will be not as fluffy and drier.
- Photo 5: Add the room temperature Eggs one at the time. Slowly mix them in until combined into the batter before adding the next one.
If your batter curdles at this point, it usually means that your butter was too cold or the butter and sugar were not creamed for long enough. The mixture will come back together once you add the flour.
- Photo 6: Mix in the Lemon Juice and Vanilla Extract until just combined.
The lemon juice might react to the other ingredients and make the batter look like it is splitting, it's normal.
- Photo 7 & 8: Sift in the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt. Slowly mix it in until just combined, stopping as soon as the flour has been incorporated to avoid overworking the batter.
This last step can also be done by hand with a whisk to avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it out into an even layer.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the ricotta lemon cake to cool down completely before removing from the pan.
- Optionally, dust with Icing Sugar and more Lemon Zest before serving.
Tips for success
- The cake might stick the the pan so make sure to line it and/or grease it to avoid any issues after baking.
- Cream the Butter and Sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, or until very fluffy. This is what will give the cake its super airy texture! To know you have creamed them properly, rub a little bit of the mix between your fingers; the sugar should have dissolved into the butter so you shouldn't feel any grain of sugar.
- Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature, especially the eggs and ricotta cheese. If those two ingredients are too cold, they will make the soft butter harden when combined.
- Don't worry if the batter seem to curdle or split when you add the lemon juice - it will come back together when you add the dry ingredients.
- Leave the cake to cool down completely before attempting to remove it from the pan. It is a very light cake that might break if you try to move it when still warm.
Use Full Fat / Whole Milk Ricotta for the best results and textures. Using Skim Ricotta will result in a more dense and less tasty cake.
There are a few reasons your cake did not rise:
- The butter and sugar weren't creamed for long enough. This steps creates lots of tiny air bubbles that will expand in the oven and make the cake rise. If not done properly, you will loose that extra leavening.
- The Baking Powder or Baking Soda were out of date and not as active.
- The oven temperature was too low. Baking cakes are a lower temperature make your cakes rise more slowly, resulting in flatter cakes.
Yes, simply substitute the Plain / All-Purpose Flour with the same amount of Self-Rising Flour and discard the baking powder / baking soda.
I served this cake with a homemade Blueberry Compote. I find it to be absolutely delicious with some kind of berries (fresh berries or in a sauce) or some cream as well.
Here are a some ideas:
- Strawberry Coulis, Raspberry Coulis or Blueberry Coulis.
- Mixed Berry Compote, Strawberry Compote or Raspberry Compote.
- some tangy Lemon Curd.
- Stewed Rhubarb or Stewed Pears.
- a simple Whipped Cream or Chantilly Cream.
Storing & Freezing
This cake can be kept at room temperature, well covered or in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, but it will dry out more quickly.
I don't recommend freezing this cake. It will loose its very light and moist crumb if frozen and thawed.
Made this recipe?
Let us know if you liked it by leaving a comment below, and tag us on Instagram @a.baking.journey with a photo of your creation!
Lemon Ricotta Cake
- 120 gr (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter - soft, at room temperature
- 120 gr (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) Caster Sugar
- 3 teaspoon Lemon Zest - about 2 large lemon
- 60 ml (1/4) Lemon Juice - about 1 large lemon
- 250 gr (8.75 oz or 1 cup) Full Fat Ricotta Cheese - at room temperature
- 3 large Eggs - at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 200 gr (1 1/3 cup) Plain / All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 pinch Fine Table Salt
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
- Preheat your oven on 180'C / 350'F. Line the bottom of a 24cm / 9" Springform Pan with baking paper and lightly grease the edges.
- In a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer), cream together the Butter, Sugar and Lemon Zest on medium to medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes (see note 1).
- Add the Ricotta Cheese and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the Eggs one at the time, mixing slowly until combined. Mix in the Lemon Juice and Vanilla Extract (see note 2).
- Sift in the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt. Slowly mix and stop as soon as combined to avoid overworking the batter.
- Transfer into the prepared Springform Pan. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread and smooth out the batter if needed.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool down completely before removing from the pan (see note 3).
- Optional: to finish the cake, dust it with a little bit of Icing Sugar and the Zest of a Lemon.
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- You should get a very light, pale and fluffy texture that will create an airy crumb for the cake. You can cream and mix the ingredients by hands with a whisk if preferred but I highly recommend using a hand or stand mixer for better results. If the butter is not at room temperature or soft enough, it will be hard to cream it and you will get small chunks of un-mixed butter in the batter.
- Don't worry if the batter seem to split / curdle when you add the lemon juice, it' a normal reaction. The batter will come back together when you add the dry ingredients.
- The cake will be very soft when it comes out of the oven and might break if you try to move it out of the pan straight away. Make sure it is cool before removing it from the pan.