(Photos, post and recipe updated 7th May 2019)

This Almond Lemon Poke Cake is actually an old recipe that I’ve been wanting to breathe some life into because it absolutely deserves it.

This is a soft, fluffy almond sheet cake that is then filled with lemon curd and topped with an airy ricotta cream and it’s one of those little effort, huge reward type cakes. Love those.

A slice of lemon poke cake on a blue plate, with the remaining cake in the background

What is poke cake?

Good question, and once you know it makes complete sense. Nothing to do with raw fish in bowls, poke cake is a sheet cake that is so named as you literally poke holes all over it after it’s been baked and pour over some kind of filling.

Rather than the filling sitting between two layers of cake, it slowly slides down the little holes that you’ve poked into the cake, simultaneously filling it and giving it moisture.

It’s normally topped with some kind of cream or frosting.

What filling to use for poke cake

There is such a variety of fillings you can use for poke cake, from fruit curds like in this one, to jam, glaze,  jelly / jello, syrup or ganache. This really means you can make a poke cake your own and it’s only limited to your imagination.

This Almond Lemon Poke Cake recipe uses lemon curd, let down a little with milk, as it’s filling. Poured all over the top, it slowly seeps down into the holes and gives the almond cake a gorgeous lemon flavour.

For the lemon curd, you can use store-bought or use my recipe for Easy Lemon Curd which only takes around 10 minutes on the stove. 

How to make lemon poke cake

The great thing about a poke cake is there is only one layer so no need to split batter up into 2 pans, then layer them together.

Collage of 2 photos showing the mixing of cake batter

Just start by whisking together dry ingredients in a bowl (photo 1) then in a second bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, extract (photo 2).

2 photos: Cake batter in a mixing bowl, then spread into a 9x13 inch baking tin

Incorporate the dry ingredients and buttermilk into the wet mix (photo 3). It’s really important not to overmix batter once you start adding flour as it can make for a tough cake once baked.

Now spread the batter into a prepared 9×13 inch baking tin (photo 4). I like to grease the pan all over, line the base with baking paper, then dust the two end lips with flour.

2 photos showing a baked sheet cake having holes poked into it and covered with lemon curd.

Once the cake is baked and while it’s still warm, poke holes all over it about 1 inch apart (photo 5). You can use the end of a wooden spoon or, as I like to, the widest end of a chopstick.

Pour over the lemon curd (mixed with a little milk), then spread it over the cake evenly (photo 6), nudging it into the holes here and there. Gravity will eventually finish this off for you.

How to make the ricotta cream

This ricotta cream is airy and light and such a lovely way to finish the cake. It has the slightest hint of salt and tang from the ricotta.

2 photos showing how to make Lemon ricotta cream

Start by whipping up regular thickened (or heavy) cream until soft peaks (photo 7). Now add the remaining ingredients – ricotta, sugar, extract and lemon zest (photo 8) – and beat just to incorporate.

2 photos showing lemon ricotta cream being spread over a lemon poke cake

Spread it all over the completely cooled cake (photos 9 & 10) and it’s ready to serve.

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Birdseye view of Lemon Poke Cake slices on a wire cooling rack

It’s simplicity and flavour makes this Almond Lemon Poke Cake recipe is a great cake to share over morning or afternoon tea with friends. A great, easy and delicious cake to have in your repertoire.

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Slices of lemon poke cake on a cooking rack

Almond Lemon Poke Cake Recipe

5 from 3 votes
This Almond Lemon Poke Cake, filled with lemon curd and topped with an easy ricotta cream topping, is incredibly easy to make. Made in a sheet pan so it’s easy to slice and serve too. 
You can use store-bought or homemade lemon curd, using this recipe.

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2 1/4  cups  (340g / 12oz) plain (all purp) flour
  • 1/4  cup  (35g / 1.2oz) corn flour (cornstarch) (notes)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • teaspoon  baking powder
  • 3/4  cup  (170g / 1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4  cups  (250g / 8.8oz) white sugar
  • large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons  almond extract
  • teaspoon  vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 1/4 cup  buttermilk, room temp

FOR THE LEMON CURD FILLING

  • 3/4 cup lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon milk

FOR THE RICOTTA CREAM

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup creamy ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • ½  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1.5 lemons

Instructions
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • Grease a 9x13 baking tin. Line the base with baking paper then flour the sides. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C (fan forced).
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until very light and creamy (this can take 3-5 minutes). Scrape down the bowl from time to time.
  • Add the eggs and beat well to combine (the mixture may look split but that’s ok). Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix through.
  • Use a spatula to stir through 1/3 of the flour mix until just combined. Now add half the buttermilk and mix through gently. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk until just combined. (don't over mix at this point).
  • Spread the batter into the prepared tin, so that it's level and all the way to the edges.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Heat the lemon curd in a saucepan until just a little warm and thinned a little. Add the milk and give it a stir.
  • Use the end of a chopstick to poke holes all over the cake about 1 inch apart.
  • Pour the warmed lemon curd over the top, then spread it out, making sure to nudge it into the holes so it can seep down.
  • Set the cake aside to cool completely.

FOR THE RICOTTA CREAM

  • Beat the cream to soft peaks. Add the ricotta, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest and beat until just combined.
  • Spread evenly over the cake and serve.

Video

Notes

  1. If you'd like to make your own, you can use this lemon curd recipe
  2. For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  3. I use corn starch a lot in my baking. Cake flour is a combination of all-purpose and cornstarch but in Australia is not so readily available. I use this combo in my recipes a lot instead of using cake flour.

TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE

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Very closeup shot of a slice of lemon poke cake