Baking/ Dessert/ Easter/ European/ Recipes

Italian Style Lemon Ricotta Cake

19/02/2021 (Last Updated: 25/02/2021)

Moist and rich, this zesty Lemon Ricotta Cake uses simple ingredients to bring you one very tasty dessert. A simplified take on a traditional Italian cake, perfect for Easter or Mother’s Day!

Slice of lemon ricotta cake dusted with icing sugar.

Why We Love This

Making this cake couldn’t be easier, simply pop all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine until evenly mixed, then pop it in the oven. Done!

You can make this into one big thick cake, or separate the batter into two pans for smaller versions to give as gifts or share with the family over multiple nights.

Serve it up alongside Sicilian Cuddura for an Easter dessert feast!

Whole lemon ricotta cake on black plates and dusted in sugar.

What is Lemon Ricotta Cake? 

This is an Italian recipe that originated in Sicily. There are lots of variations depending on the region – some include a pie crust, cinnamon or lemon or orange zest and/or juice, while some include all three!

You’ll find versions made with a single crust (crust on the bottom) or double crust (crust on the top and bottom) too. We wanted to make a simplified version with no pie crust, and more flour added to the mix to help it hold together. The result is so decadent, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

This is a popular baking recipe over Easter, just like our Greek koulourakia, Italian cantucci or Italian Almond Cookies.

What You’ll Need

  • Ricotta – Regular supermarket ricotta is best – aim for whole milk, full fat ricotta for creamy, moist texture with a hint of sweetness. Some delicatessens will sell ricotta that has been stored in water, so it’s best to avoid these versions. 
  • Eggs – For best results, make sure to use room-temperature eggs. 
  • Sugar – We recommend caster sugar, aka super fine sugar. You can also use raw sugar as a substitute.
  • Self Raising Flour – This already has baking powder in the mix, if using all purpose flour, add in 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.
  • Lemon Zest – You can substitute your lemon zest with orange in a pinch or leave it out.
  • Vanilla Essence – Leave out if you prefer, or substitute with almond essence if you like.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Ricotta – If you have a watery ricotta, always drain it first. This will give you the best texture in the final cake.
  • Beat the Batter – Beat for a good few minutes to avoid eggy/spongy texture, and achieve a more creamy finish.
  • When Baking – Always use the middle rack so it doesn’t cook too quickly. Check frequently to avoid the top browning too much. 
  • Store in the Fridge – Since this cake includes ricotta (aka cheese), it must be kept refrigerated and served chilled. 

FAQs

My ricotta cake texture is a bit grainy, what happened?

Ricotta is naturally grainy, but some brands may be more grainy than others. Different versions have different textures. To address this, you could try whisking it for a few minutes before using it in the recipe, or try a different brand altogether.

Can I freeze lemon ricotta cake?

You sure can. Once it’s completely cooled, pop in an airtight freezer-proof container and freeze for up to 2 months.

Variations

  • Topping Ideas – Serve with whipped cream and berries such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. For an even sweeter treat, top with a sprinkling of crystallised sugar. 
  • Add Flavour – A tablespoon or two of Amaretto, Frangelico or Marsala can give the cake quite a nice addition of flavour.
Top down view of ricotta cake.

In the mood for more cake? Bake these next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Slice of lemon ricotta cake on plate.

Italian Style Lemon Ricotta Cake

Moist and rich, this zesty Lemon Ricotta Cake uses simple ingredients to bring you one very tasty dessert. A simplified take on a traditional Italian cake, perfect for Easter or Mother's Day!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Cake, Dessert, Easter
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 1 cake
Calories: 4203kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10

Ingredients

  • 180 g butter softened, 6.5 oz
  • 1 ½ cups self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese strained if watery, 400 g / 14 oz
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 zest of one lemon

Optional:

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180°C / 360°F.
  • Add your softened butter and sugar to a large bowl. Cream using a mixer or handheld beater for around 2-3 minutes or until the mix becomes light and creamy.
  • Next pop in the ricotta cheese and continue mixing on a medium-high setting for 5 minutes.
  • In a small jug, add the eggs, vanilla essence and lemon zest. Lightly whisk, then add to the ricotta mix and incorporate on a low-medium setting.
  • For the final step, pour in the self raising flour and slowly fold through the mixture using a wooden spoon. Don't overmix this step, continue until just combined.
  • Line a springform or tall cake pan (around 20-22 cm / 8-9 inches) with baking paper (or lined with butter with a icing sugar dusting). Pour all the batter in and flatten out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.
  • Pop the cake onto the lowest or middle baking rack. Bake for 30-50 min or until a skewer comes out clean. Watch for the top as it starts to brown, this is usually a sign it's almost ready.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  • Take out of the pan, slice and serve. Optional: Dust with icing sugar.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Ricotta – Regular supermarket ricotta is best – aim for whole milk, full fat ricotta for creamy, moist texture with a hint of sweetness. Some delicatessens will sell ricotta that has been stored in water, so it’s best to avoid these versions. If you have a watery ricotta, always drain it first. This will give you the best texture in the final cake.
  • Eggs – For best results, make sure to use room-temperature eggs.
  • Sugar – We recommend caster sugar, aka super fine sugar. You can also use raw sugar as a substitute.
  • Self Raising Flour – This already has baking powder in the mix, if using all purpose flour, add in 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.
  • Lemon Zest – You can substitute your lemon zest with orange in a pinch or leave it out.
    Vanilla Essence – Leave out if you prefer, or substitute with almond essence if you like.
  • Beat the Batter – Beat for a good few minutes to avoid eggy/spongy texture, and achieve a more creamy finish.
  • When Baking – Always use the middle rack so it doesn’t cook too quickly. Check frequently to avoid the top browning too much.
  • Store in the Fridge – Since this cake includes ricotta (aka cheese), it must be kept refrigerated and served chilled.
  • Topping Ideas – Serve with whipped cream and berries such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. For an even sweeter treat, top with a sprinkling of crystallised sugar.
  • Add Flavour – A tablespoon or two of Amaretto, Frangelico or Marsala can give the cake quite a nice addition of flavour.

Nutrition

Calories: 4203kcal | Carbohydrates: 455g | Protein: 96g | Fat: 226g | Saturated Fat: 138g | Trans Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 1129mg | Sodium: 1894mg | Potassium: 962mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 303g | Vitamin A: 7410IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 1186mg | Iron: 6mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Italian Style Lemon Ricotta Cake

Miso E-cookbook

Image of laptop and ipad with text overlay.

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Jas @ All that's Jas
    26/05/2021 at 6:34 am

    5 stars
    Everything lemon is a favorite in my household! This ricotta cake is going on top of my must-try list.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      27/05/2021 at 9:50 am

      Oh I think you’ll like this one! The amount of times we’ve recooked this already for the fam. It goes so well with morning tea or dessert!

  • Reply
    Annie
    01/04/2021 at 11:50 pm

    5 stars
    This is our new favorite!! Love the intensity of the lemon (Meyer lemons are great for this)
    Made in two 6” pans it is perfect for two or a small family.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      02/04/2021 at 3:00 pm

      Aww so good to know Annie! 😀 We’ll have to see if we can source Meyer lemons back in Adelaide. Good to know with the two pans as well – enjoy your cake!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    01/03/2021 at 4:44 pm

    5 stars
    I tried making this cake yesterday and it got rave reviews from the dinner guests! The instructions are very clear. I did need to bake mine for slightly longer than the time listed, but that may be because I used an 8″ pan (really needed the 9″ given the rise and amount of batter).

    I added lemon zest as well as just a bit of lemon juice to my eggs and vanilla essence.

    Will probably mix in my flour for a bit longer than last time; I took that step pretty cautiously and it almost had a moist corn bread consistency!

    So good and reheats well from the fridge.

    Thanks so much.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      02/03/2021 at 9:05 am

      Amazing feedback Lauren. Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know how it went. So glad to hear your guests loved it!

      We’re shooting the video for it this week, so we’ll keep an eye on baking times (testing a different size pan this round) and will update the recipe with the results.

      Yeah, it’s fine to mix the flour a little longer if you think it needs it. Just mix until you can see it’s all combined. The cake definitely starts off lighter straight out the oven, but does become more dense / cornbread like after cooling.

      Good to know re: reheating from the fridge too. I’ll pop this tip in the notes. 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating




    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.