Dessert/ Vegetarian

Easy Lemon Ricotta Cake

April 1, 2020 (Last Updated: April 2, 2020) by Chef Molly
small slice of lemon ricotta cake

I’m a big fan of one-pan cakes that don’t require much time or effort to pull together. You can frost them, or not. You can serve them as a special occasion dessert, perhaps with whipped cream and berries, or just cut off a small wedge to enjoy with your afternoon coffee or tea. They even make a sweet surprise for an after-school snack, and one you won’t feel too guilty for serving your children. Have I convinced you yet? If so, this Easy Lemon Ricotta Cake is a perfect place to start. 

This cake puts an Italian spin on my French Yogurt Cake, which is one of my favorite easy recipes. Rather than using yogurt in the cake, this recipe uses ricotta cheese instead. And replaces sliced almonds with fresh lemon flavor. The result is a tender cake, lightly sweet and lemony, made even more moist with the inclusion of almond flour and olive oil in the batter. To make, you simply whisk the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls and then stir together—no mixer required. A dusting of powdered sugar is all this cake needs to shine. 

ingredient photos: eggs, sugar, ricotta, olive oil, almond flour, baking powder, lemons, flour, vanilla

How do you make Lemon Ricotta Cake?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

9-inch round cake pan lined with parchment

In a medium bowl, combine 90 grams of all-purpose flour, 48 grams of almond flour, 150 grams of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and whisk gently.

flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl with whisk

In a large bowl, whisk together 250 grams of ricotta cheese, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, and 3.5 ounces of olive oil until the oil is fully incorporated.

ricotta, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and olive oil with whisk in large bowl

Then add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together.

batter for lemon ricotta cake in large bowl with wooden spoon

Pour the batter into the pan.

lemon ricotta cake batter in cake pan ready to bake

Bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and springy, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (When you gently press the middle of the top of the cake with your finger, the cake should feel solid underneath and should spring right back up when you remove your finger.)

lemon ricotta cake on cooling rack after baking

Remove cake from oven and put onto a cake rack to cool. It may have some cracks on the top—don’t worry, the dome on the cake will fall slightly as it cools, and the cracks will virtually disappear. After 15 minutes, when cake is still warm, invert cake pan onto a plate to unmold. Remove the parchment paper and then flip the cake right-side up again. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.  

Recipe Tips for Lemon Ricotta Cake

If you don’t have a kitchen scale yet, and you enjoy baking, I encourage you to buy one. In recipe testing my baked goods, I measure my ingredients time and time again. I am always surprised when my measurements do not match what I can find on the Internet. For example, King Arthur Flour tells me that 1 cup of all-purpose flour weighs 120 grams, but the Cooks Illustrated baking chart tells me it weighs 142 grams. When I used my measuring cup to spoon and level my flour into it, I came out with 150 grams. 🤷‍♀️ I’ve used King Arthur Flour’s recommendations in my recipe to convert into cup measures, but I encourage you to use the weights when measuring as much as possible.

Measurements get even trickier with ingredients like almond flour and olive oil, which come in many different versions. As a bonus, when you measure using a scale, there are fewer dishes to wash! You can measure ingredients directly into the bowl on your scale, and zero out the scale before you add each new ingredient. 

Another note for this recipe is that ricotta cheese can be quite different between brands. The one I can find here in France is pretty dense, with a small curd. It seems creamier and less chalky than some other ricottas I’ve used. As with anything, I would expect that higher quality ingredients will produce a higher quality cake (though my version is not particularly expensive). Test this recipe with your own version of ricotta and try another brand if you don’t think the texture is quite right. Or, you can make your own (see below). 

lemon ricotta cake on plate with lemon next to it

Does ricotta cake need to be refrigerated?

No, this ricotta cake does not need to be refrigerated. Store it in an airtight container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. It will last at least 3 days at room temperature. If you want to store it longer, you can keep it in the refrigerator for a few more days. Note that if you think you will have leftovers, don’t sprinkle the entire top with powdered sugar. The sugar will melt into the cake over time and leave the top a bit soggy.

Can you freeze Lemon Ricotta Cake?

Yes, this ricotta cake freezes well. Make sure cake is fully cooled first, and don’t sprinkle with powdered sugar. Then wrap slices tightly with plastic wrap or store in freezer bags. Cake will last up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then leave out at room temperature before serving. 

What else can you use ricotta cheese for? 

So you have an open, half-used container of ricotta cheese, do you? I have been there myself, and always seem to forget to use it until it has gone moldy. But, in fact, there are some great ways to use extra ricotta cheese. Check out the following ideas:

  • add to pancake batter
  • add to cheesecake batter
  • mix with eggs and herbs for lasagna filling
  • spread on pizza dough before topping your pizza
  • mix with lemon zest and serve on crostini, drizzled with honey
  • make ricotta gnocchi
  • serve dollops on softly scrambled eggs
overhead shot of lemon ricotta cake with large cake and small plate with small slice, plus lemon

Can you make ricotta cheese at home?

Ricotta cheese is actually one of the easiest cheeses you can make at home. You can make it with just whole milk and lemon juice. And, you can control its texture by deciding how long to drain it. Here’s a great article from the Kitchn that walks you through it. 

Is almond flour nutritious?

Almond flour, since it is made just from raw almonds, is quite healthy for you. Almonds are low in carbs and high in fiber, protein, manganese, magnesium, and Vitamin E. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Adding almond flour to a recipe adds fat, which adds richness to a recipe and can extend the shelf life of your baked goods. 

Almond Meal vs. Almond Flour

Almond meal and almond flour are terms used for the same thing—both mean finely ground almonds. The majority of almond flour products are made by finely grinding blanched almonds (almonds where the skins have been removed). Almond meal can mean finely ground blanched or unblanched almonds, and almond meal may be a coarser grind than almond flour.

What else can you use almond flour for?

Almond flour is used in many French desserts—try making macarons or making a frangipane base for a tart. You can also use almond flour as a replacement for all-purpose flour (or for some of the flour) in regular cake or cookie recipes. Almond meal can make a delicious crumble topping for a fruit crisp, crumble, or tart when mixed with flour, sugar, and butter. Finally, you can replace breadcrumbs with almond flour when you are making breaded chicken or fish—though almond flour will burn more quickly than traditional breadcrumbs. For more information about substituting some almond flour in your baking recipes, consult this almond flour baking guide from King Arthur Flour. It’s a great resource that shows you exactly how different kinds of recipes react to almond flour. 

Can you freeze almond flour?

Yes! And since almond flour is expensive both to buy and to make, you should definitely freeze any leftovers for your next batch. According to Bob’s Red Mill, you can even freeze almond flour for 4-5 months after its sell by date, as long as you keep it in an airtight container. You can also keep it in the fridge if you prefer. In fact, if you are planning to store almond flour for over a few weeks, you should keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. Almond flour (and other nut flours) can turn rancid more quickly than traditional flour. 

Other Dessert Recipes

If you enjoyed this Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe, you might also want to check out some of my other almond flour desserts: Almond Flour Chocolate Cake, Almond Flour Chocolate Cookies, and Almond Flour Peanut Butter Cookies. I also use almond flour in my French Yogurt Cake with Almonds recipe. If you’re looking for other delicious desserts, don’t miss my Ultimate Blondies with Chocolate Chips, my Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls with Apple, my Peach Blueberry Crisp, and my Mango Coconut Yogurt Parfaits

lemon ricotta cake with powdered sugar with lemon and sieve in background
Easy Lemon Ricotta Cake

Easy Lemon Ricotta Cake

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This version of Lemon Ricotta Cake features fresh lemon juice, ricotta cheese, almond flour, and olive oil. Super moist, lemony, and delicious!

Ingredients

  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • 90 g (3/4 c.) all-purpose flour
  • 48 g (1/2 c.) almond flour
  • 150 g (3/4 c.) sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 250 g (8.8 oz.) full-fat ricotta cheese (about 1 packed cup)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest
  • 3.5 oz (1/2 c.) olive oil
  • Powdered sugar, to serve

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius.
    2. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
    3. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and whisk gently.
    4. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil until the oil is fully incorporated.
    5. Then add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together.
    6. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and springy.
    7. Remove cake from oven and put onto a cake rack to cool.
    8. After 15 minutes, when cake is still warm, invert cake pan onto a plate to unmold. Remove the parchment paper, then flip right-side up again.
    9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Notes

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days in an airtight container, or can be frozen. Let it cool completely before freezing.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 414Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 261mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    April 7, 2020 at 12:04 am

    This cake looks just delicious, Molly. Lemon and ricotta are a lovely combination. I can imagine enjoying a slice of this with a cup of tea!

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      April 7, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Alex! I had a slice for a mid-afternoon break the other day, and it was perfect. 😀

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