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A light Lemon Ricotta Cake with an amazing texture and loads of lemon flavor. This moist and tender cake is uniquely delicious and super easy to make.
Lemon Ricotta Cake – the perfect dessert for any occasion.
This simple little Lemon Ricotta Cake has been a staple at our house all summer. Whenever we need a light dessert that’s easily made ahead, this is our go-to recipe.
Everyone loves lemon desserts and this recipe is quickly becoming a memorable favorite. With plenty of fresh lemon zest and lemon juice perfectly balanced with just the right of sweetness, this cake is hard to beat.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this cake is the unforgettable texture. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the light and fluffy crumb that’s not at all spongy. It holds together beautifully, but is not dense.
Could this be the perfect cake? Maybe! It’s much easier to make than a layered cake.
Don’t skip adding the thick layer of coarse sugar on top. This creates a lovely sweet crust and is the perfect textural compliment to the tender and lightly moist cake inside.
This cake has clean, crisp bright lemon flavor and no weird artificial aftertaste.
Ricotta cheese has always been one of those ingredients that’s great in both sweet and savory dishes. The way it binds this cake together is absolutely magical!
Ingredients for Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe:
- Lemon zest – make sure you only zest the outer yellow layer of the lemon. Any white pith may leave you with a bitter aftertaste.
- Granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder to give the cake plenty of lift.
- Baking Soda – be sure to check your leavening agents periodically to ensure they’re still active.
- Ricotta Cheese – use good quality full fat ricotta in this recipe.
- Lemon juice – use only fresh lemon juice in this recipe. Strain the juice of pulp and seeds before measuring.
- Vanilla extract
- Unsalted butter at room temperature
- Eggs – use large room temperature eggs for best results.
- Fresh berries for serving (optional)
How to make Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake:
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the full printable recipe card
1. Make lemon sugar
First start by processing the lemon zest with a little granulated sugar. This step ensures the lemon oils are disbursed throughout the cake giving each bite a light, bright, lemony flavor.
2. Combine the dry ingredients
Next whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. Blend the wet ingredients
In a large measuring cup combine the ricotta cheese, fresh lemon juice and vanilla until blended. Set aside.
4. Make the batter
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer beat the lemon sugar, all remaining granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until well blended.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients with the wet. Spread the thick cake batter into a lightly greased and floured springform pan (or line with parchment paper).
5. Bake and serve
Sprinkle generously with coarse sugar and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter. Allow the cake to rest for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a dusting of powdered / icing sugar and a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit or berries.
How to serve Lemon Ricotta Cake
With a crispy sweet crust on top this cake is pretty perfect served straight from the pan. However, I usually add a hefty dusting of powdered sugar for nice visual appeal.
We adore this cake served slightly warm. The crumb is tender and moist and the top is crisp and sweet.
For a sweeter dessert drizzle a simple lemon glaze over the warm cake. Mix together lemon juice and powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency.
For a more elegant presentation add a big dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit. Fresh raspberries or blueberries are both great served with this cake.
We love the raspberry ricotta combination so much we created this Raspberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake recipe. Trust me, you’ll want to try that recipe next!
Can you freeze Lemon Ricotta Cake?
This lemon cake freezes beautifully! The crispy sugar crusted top may become a little soft, but the cake is still fantastic.
You can freeze the cake whole, or in individual slices for up to 3 months. Make sure the cake is completely cooled, then well wrapped and sealed before freezing.
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or unwrap and thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Recipes to make with ricotta cheese:
As mentioned earlier, ricotta cheese is a great ingredient to use in both sweet and savory recipes. Our favorite is the Galbani brand full-fat ricotta found in most well stocked grocery stores.
Favorite sweet recipes:
When properly balanced, ricotta is a fantastic addition to baked desserts like this Ricotta Cheesecake.
This heirloom recipe for Ricotta Cookies yields beautiful, tender, pillowy soft cake-like cookies topped with a bright lemony glaze. Bet you can’t eat just one!
Another personal favorite is our recipe for these thick, light and fluffy Ricotta Pancakes. Once your try pancakes made with ricotta cheese, you may never go back to using milk again.
Ricotta Lemon Pound Cake is another richly flavored, lemony and beautifully moist dessert everyone loves.
Favorite savory recipes:
Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Bake is a hearty main course in an easy to make, deconstructed casserole.
Baked Gnocchi with a rich tomato sauce, dollops of creamy ricotta and plenty of fresh spinach. A quick and easy weeknight meal or memorable main course good enough for company!
And last but not least, ricotta is a star in our Rich & Meaty Classic Lasagna Recipe. This Italian classic will feed a small crowd or at least your super hungry family!
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Lemon Ricotta Cake
- 9-inch springform pan
- 1 ⅓ cup granulated sugar, divided (300g)
- zest of 3 lemons (no white pith)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (252g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2oz) strained of seeds and pulp
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113g or 4oz)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Invert the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Attach the sides and lightly grease and flour the sides and bottom. Set aside.
- Measure out the granulated sugar and remove 3 tablespoons to a small food processor. Add the lemon zest to the 3 tablespoons sugar and process until the mixture is bright yellow and the zest is broken down into tiny pieces.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the ricotta, lemon juice and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the butter, lemon sugar and all remaining granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat for several minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Beat on low until incorporated. Add ½ of the ricotta mixture and blend until smooth. Repeat adding ½ of the remaining flour, then all of the remaining ricotta. Finally blend in all remaining flour. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold gently with a spatula to ensure the batter is well mixed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Bake in the preheated 325°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter. Moist crumbs are great.
- Cool at least 20 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with powdered sugar, fresh fruit and/or a dollop of whipped cream.
- If you don’t have a small food processor smash the sugar and lemon zest together using a fork until well blended and fragrant.
- The batter will be thick, but no worries. The cake comes out light and moist.
- If using a dark colored pan, bake at 325F. If you have a light colored pan or a deep-dish 9-inch cake pan bake at 350F and check the cake at 40 minutes.
The perfect Lemon Ricotta Cake
This amazing cake has a sweet crispy top crust over a tender, lemony moist crumb. It’s very easy to make and freezes beautifully!
The perfect ending to any meal!
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