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This Lemon Ricotta Cake is exceptionally moist, light and sweet! Delicious ricotta cheese adds a creamy richness which pairs perfectly with the brightness of fresh lemon. You'll want to make this unforgettable, rustic, Italian lemon cake!
Powdered sugar shaker - This shaker for powdered sugar makes it so much easier to control the dusting than with a sieve or strainer. Pick this one up for cheap!
KitchenAid 9 Speed Hand Mixer – Using a hand mixer for this recipe allows you to have complete control over how much the batter is mixed. You don’t want to overwork this batter so it’s very important to have a hand mixer that helps you control mixing.
Let’s make Lemon Ricotta Cake!
Ready for a bold statement?
This cake is life changing.
It is the type of cake where you take a bite and forget the world around you. It's the kind of cake where you pause, and taste and smile and make some kind of mumbled yummy sound.
Lemon Ricotta cake is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.
While thinking of dessert recipes to post for the spring & summer months, I struggled to pin down a new and fresh idea. I see a lot of fruit desserts like, pies, crisps, trifles, no bake cheesecakes, but I was craving something new.
Ricotta desserts are always super light and won’t weigh you down. Anything with bright and zesty lemon is a definite win.
I know this cake doesn't look like much, but I promise Lemon Ricotta cake is going to be the hit of summer.
As with many Italian dessert recipes, less is more. The ingredient list for this cake is a short one.
- Whole milk ricotta cheese
- Lemon zest
- Baking powder
- Cornmeal (optional – I’ll explain)
What I love about this cake so much is the flavor and texture. This cake is not as sweet as other desserts. The pairing of ricotta & lemon makes this cake cool and refreshing.
While doing research for this recipe, I noticed that a lot of popular Lemon Ricotta cake recipes called for only all-purpose flour. I challenged the idea of just using AP flour because I felt like this cake deserved more.
For Authentic Italian Ricotta Cake…
…I prefer to use a blend of flours, adding in some cornmeal or finely ground polenta.
You can certainly use 100% AP flour in this recipe instead of mixing it up with cornmeal. However, I highly, HIGHLY recommend blending in some cornmeal as well. Semolina can also be used to add some of that authentic feel, without adding a coarse texture to the cake.
The cornmeal adds pleasant texture, that makes this cake undeniably amazing (think of it like cornbread). I also feel it lends to a more traditional Italian cake.
When you take a bite, you instantly get a creaminess from the ricotta and then the rustic, texture from the cornmeal. It's like lemon, ricotta and cornmeal were made for each other.
The cornmeal makes the cake airier, with a larger, moist crumb and it also gives it a rich yellow color.
Again, it’s totally fine to use 100% all purpose flour for this recipe, but the crumb will be tighter than shown here (it will still be yummy & moist!)
The most sensational Ricotta Dessert Recipe
My husband and I are both of Italian heritage, so the fridge is always stocked with Italian essentials and I’m always looking for new ways to use up leftover ricotta cheese.
The simple ingredients of this cake make it easy to whip up during an average weeknight, but it is totally elegant enough for entertaining.
If you’re looking for more ricotta dessert recipes, check out my Ricotta Cookies. These cookies are incredibly soft and pillowy, I make them regularly!
How to make this cake
This cake recipe is easy!
You start by mixing up butter and sugar, then zest, eggs & ricotta. Be sure that all ingredients are at room temp before mixing, including the ricotta. It’s OK if the mixture looks a bit separated after adding the eggs. This can happen if the ingredients are not all the same temperature.
Once the wet ingredients are mixed, add the dry. Be sure to combine the dry ingredients together before adding everything to the wet mixture.
With the hand mixer on the lowest speed setting, mix the dry ingredients until just absorbed. It should take less than a minute. Remember to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl well.
This cake is best made in a springform pan, but you could use a standard 9” cake pan, or a square 9x9 pan if desired.
While many ricotta cakes are paired with whipped cream, berries or frosting, this cake is perfectly wonderful with a simple dusting of powdered sugar.
Some tips to making the best Lemon Ricotta Cake
While recipe testing, here is what I found to help make this recipe the best Lemon Ricotta cake recipe.
- Use fresh lemon zest, don’t use extract. This cake tastes best with the real thing.
- Make it a day in advance. The flavors will be more absorbed and the cake settles over time making it even more moist than the day it was made.
- Store it in the fridge. This cake is so insanely good served chilled. It almost evokes a cheesecake feel. This also makes it a great dessert for summer!
I hope I’ve convinced you to give this amazing cake a try!
- ¾ c unsalted butter (softened at room temp) + some extra for greasing the pan
- 1 c granulated sugar
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 3 eggs (room temp)
- 1 ½ c whole milk ricotta cheese (room temp)
- ¾ c all purpose flour
- ½ c fine ground polenta OR fine cornmeal OR semolina OR all purpose flour (I like fine cornmeal best)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9” springform pan by placing a round of parchment paper on the bottom. Grease the bottom and sides with butter.
- In a large bowl, add the softened butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well.
- Next, add the lemon zest. Mix until incorporated.
- Crack the eggs into a small separate bowl.
- Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, mixing well in between each addition with the hand mixer until completely incorporated. It’s OK if your batter looks a bit separated at this point.
- Add in the ricotta cheese and mix until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, combine the all purpose flour and other flour (if using), the baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork and add it into the bowl with the wet ingredients.
- With the mixer on the lowest speed setting, gently mix the dry ingredients until they are just absorbed (this should take less than a minute). Once you see the flour is absorbed, stop mixing.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl well to ensure everything is mixed thoroughly.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. The cake should be golden brown on the edges.
- When finished baking, allow the cake to fully cool on a cooling rack before removing the springform pan ring.
- Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
For best results, make a day in advance.
Best stored chilled in the refrigerator.
Recipe by Owlbbaking.com
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 324
- Sugar: 20g
Keywords: Lemon Ricotta Cake