In the colder months, a zesty lemon cake is like a ray of sunshine on a grey day. Bursting with fresh lemon flavour, my delicious Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake is the perfect dessert to finish a meal, or for afternoon tea, and with just a handful of ingredients, it’s super simple to prepare.
This recipe makes a small 20cm cake, perfect for serving chilled with a strong espresso.
To make my easy Lemon Ricotta Cake, you need the following simple ingredients:
- Ricotta: The main ingredient and the star of the show in many Italian desserts. For the best results, use whole milk ricotta cheese, well drained of excess liquid.
- Fresh Lemons: I use fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest to pack this cake with lemon flavour. Because lemons are often treated to keep them shelf stable for longer, look for organic or unwaxed lemons, as the skin and zest is suitable for consumption.
- Eggs: Use the freshest eggs you can find for this recipe for the best flavour. Eggs are easiest to separate when they are cold from the fridge.
- Sugar: I use white sugar in this cake; it doesn’t mask the delicate lemon flavour. You’ll need powdered or icing sugar to dust the cake with before serving.
- Cornstarch: Using cornstarch, rather than flour, in this cake helps to keep it light and fluffy. As a bonus, it means this delicious cake is gluten-free!
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter in all baked goods to control the amount of salt in the final recipe.
This cake is so easy and comes together in minutes.
- First, beat the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and creamy. Next, beat in the ricotta, lemon juice, zest and vanilla and mix in the butter. Sift over the dry ingredients.
- Next, beat the egg whites in a super clean bowl until VERY stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites under the egg yolk mixture, then pour into a prepared cake pan.
- Bake at 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 for 40 minutes until puffed and golden. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. The cake will settle to just over an inch high.
- Before serving, dust with powdered sugar. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I store Lemon Ricotta Cake?
I store it in the fridge, well-covered with plastic wrap. This cake will last 2-3 days but is best fresh.
This is a small cake. Can I double or triple the recipe to make it larger?
This is a very delicate, small cake. Rather than making a larger version, I’d make two or three smaller ones. If you want a gloriously large cheesecake, try my German Käsekuchen recipe instead.
Can I freeze Lemon Ricotta Cake?
This cake can be frozen, but I prefer the texture of the fresh cake.
Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 100g (3.5 oz.) white sugar
- 300g (10.5 oz.)firm, fresh ricotta cheese, drained
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g (1.75 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 50g (1.75 oz.) cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- PREPARE: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Line the base with parchment paper and grease the sides of a 20cm (8 in.) round springform pan.
- BEAT EGG YOLKS: In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix to combine. Beat in the butter, then mix in the cornstarch and salt until just combined. Set aside and clean off the beaters.
- BEAT EGG WHITES: Use the electric mixer to beat the egg whites to very stiff peaks in a large bowl.
- COMBINE: Add the egg yolk mixture to the egg whites and mix, using a folding motion, to gently but thoroughly combine the ingredients.
- BAKE: Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the surface, then bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until puffed and golden brown.
- COOL: Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the springform ring and transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely, then dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 287Total Fat: 15.8gSaturated Fat: 9.2gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 126mgCarbohydrates: 28.3gFiber: 0.3gSugar: 18.6gProtein: 9g