Sweet and luscious is how I’d describe this lemon ricotta cake. It has a slightly dense texture but not heavy like a mud cake. Instead, it’s somehow light and creamy.

You’ll love this Flourless Lemon Cake and this Greek Orange Semolina Cake too. Promise!

A lemon ricotta cake cut into slices on a white platter. Lemons in the background.

Moist yet light and with a flavour of creamy lemon, lemon ricotta cake is a traditional Italian tea cake that will have you coming back for another slice.

It has a wonderful flavour making it perfect served as is, maybe with a light dusting of icing sugar on top and a small dollop of cream on the side. It’s also sweet without being too sweet.

Ingredients

I love a recipe like this that uses simple ingredients that I always have in the kitchen.

Ingredients for lemon ricotta cake on a white marble benchtop.
  • White sugar, flour (plain / all purpose), baking powder and salt: These are all the dry ingredients. 
  • Ricotta: Some ricottas are drier than others but most will work.  
  • Butter: That buttery flavour really shines in this cake.
  • Eggs: 3 whole large eggs.
  • Lemon and vanilla: These are your flavours. Just a little vanilla is all you need as the perfect flavour enhancer.

How to make it

4 images in a collage showing how to make the batter for a lemon ricotta cake.
  1. Cream together butter and sugar until it’s light and creamy then add the ricotta and beat well (for around 5 minutes) (photo 1).
  2. You can now add the eggs, lemon juice, zest and vanilla all at once. I mix them together in another bowl first (photo 2) but you can just add them straight to the batter and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (photo 3) and fold in with a spatula.
  4. Tip it into a lined 8 inch baking tin and level it out (photo 4)then bake.

Lemon Ricotta cake has a simplicity that means it can be served as a morning or afternoon tea snack with a hot cup of coffee, but it’s texture makes it just as perfect as an indulgent after-dinner dessert.

I love cakes like this, that can do double duty. This Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake and this Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake are two more that have that wonderful combination of simple and indulgent.

Top down view of a lemon ricotta cake cut into slices on a white platter.

Tips and tricks

  • Use full fat ricotta for the best flavour and texture, however low fat will work.
  • Beating the ricotta for 4-5 minutes is really important – it adds air to the batter making it lighter than it would otherwise be.
  • The batter may look like it curdled but it’s just a reaction from the lemon juice hitting the fats and is not a problem at all.
  • A spring-form tin is best as it makes it easier to release from the tin. It also means you can release the collar and allow it cool more openly rather than leaving it in a hot tin for too long.
  • Make sure to grease the tin and line it with baking paper so it’s easy to release.

How to store it

This Italian lemon cake can be stored at room temperature, though if it’s going to be sitting around a while, it’s best to keep it in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature before serving by taking it out of the fridge a couple of hours before.

This cake will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

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A slice of cake on a white marble platter.

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Top down view of a lemon ricotta cake cut into slices on a white platter.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

5 from 2 votes
Buttery,creamy and incredibly moist, this Lemon Ricotta Cake is a lemon lovers dream. Witha soft and luscious texture, this zesty cake is very easy to make – all in justone bowl.

Ingredients

  • 195 g plain (all-purp) flour (1 ½ cups / 5.8oz)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, softened (½ cup / 1 stick / 4oz)
  • 200 g white granulated sugar (1 cup / 7oz)
  • 1 ½ cups full-fat ricotta (365g / 13oz)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (note 1)

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Grease and line an 8 inch springform tin with baking paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  • Add the ricotta and beat for another 4-5 full minutes on a medium-high setting (to incorporate some air). Scrape down the bowl a couple of times during this.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and juice and beat until just combined.
  • Carefully, fold in the flour mixture using a spatula, mixing until it is just combined. Don’t overmix.
  • Tip the thick batter into the prepared tin and level out.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide).
  2. Don’t skimp on whipping the ricotta.
  3. Serve at room temperature (or even slightly warm – yum).
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