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Craving a comforting lemon cake to brighten your breakfast or tea time? This Lemon Ricotta Cake should do the trick! Extra moist, with wetter crumbs than your usual loaf cake, it is made super light with the addition of delicious ricotta cheese. And… you only need 15 minutes to prepare the batter; the rest is just baking time!

half sliced lemon ricotta cakes on a serving dish with lemon and ricotta in the background

Why you should try this recipe

  • Quick and super easy to make, just combine the ingredients together, transfer to a loaf pan, and bake in the oven while you read a book or complete other tasks. This is the perfect recipe for when you are short on time but still want a delicious cake for breakfast or tea time!
  • Intensely lemony – I went with the zest of four lemons, yes, four! Plus some juice. Enough with lemon cake recipes that barely taste like lemon! And for your next lemon cake craving, check out my Buttery Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Syrup Glaze. Equally lemony. 🍋
  • Inspired by traditional Italian lemon ricotta cakes. The addition of ricotta cheese makes this cake super moist while remaining fluffy. Yum!
  • A rustic, traditional, European-style loaf cake with a beautiful crack on top. For loaf cake aficionados out there, you can also check out my Chocolate Loaf Cake with Chocolate Almond Glaze.
light brown sugar, lemons, ricotta, eggs, butter, flour, baking powder and salt on a marble surface

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The ingredients you’ll need

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card at the end of the post.)

  • Ricotta cheese – look for fresh Italian ricotta cheese on the label. We don’t want mature ricotta cheese for this recipe
  • Four lemons – preferably organic, as this recipe uses both zest and juice!
  • Unsalted butter – look for European-style or cultured butter on the label. These kinds of butter are higher in butterfat and will yield a better result for browning. It really makes a difference!
  • Light brown sugar – for a subtle toffee flavor. You can swap it with granulated sugar if you don’t have it on hand.
  • Free-range eggs – act as a binding agent for this cake.
  • All-purpose flour – for the lightest, softest texture.
  • Baking powder – for a well-risen, soft cake with a beautiful golden crust.
  • Flaky sea salt – acts as a flavor enhancer.
ricotta in a blue bowl and two lemon on a marble surface

How to make Lemon Ricotta Cake?

(Note: please see the recipe card below for the complete written instructions and measurements.)

Start by greasing and lining the pan.

  • Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C).
  • Grease an 8.5 x 4.5-inch (21.5 cm x 11.5 cm) loaf pan with room-temperature butter.
  • Line with a piece of parchment paper the same length as the bottom of your pan. Make sure to leave parchment overhangs on both sides to help remove the cake from the pan.

Prepare the batter:

  • Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the lemon zest and mix until well incorporated, about 30 seconds.

  • Add the eggs and beat well until combined. (It is okay if the mixture looks a bit separated.)
  • Add the ricotta cheese and lemon juice and beat until just combined, about 10 seconds.

From this point onward, do not overwork the batter.

  • Add the flaky sea salt, then sift the baking powder and flour.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until just combined (and no pockets of flour remain).

  • Transfer the batter to the loaf pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until risen, cooked through, and golden in color.

Note: to make sure the cake is cooked, insert a toothpick. If it comes out with moist crumbs, you are good to go.


  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan.
  • Let it cool down completely. It’s ready! Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Nim Keys – Useful Tips

Ingredients’ temperature is key to getting the best result.

  • Ideally, take butter, eggs, and ricotta 30 minutes before starting baking. Chop up the butter into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and let it sit at room temperature while you prepare all the other ingredients and preheat your oven.

If you forgot to take the ingredients in advance:

  • Cut the butter into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes, then place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave at low power (about 20%) for 20 seconds.
  • Place the eggs in a bowl filled with warm tap water for 5 minutes. Pat them dry with a kitchen cloth, and they’ll be good to go.

FAQ

Wait, isn’t ricotta a cheese? Will the cake taste like cheese?

Absolutely not 🙂
Ricotta is a fresh, curd-type Italian whey cheese (and, technically speaking, not really a cheese, but a dairy by-product (called latticino in Italian)). With a mild and creamy taste, ricotta cheese is often used in Italian baking to add moisture and create a soft and cloud-like texture to cakes and pastries.

Can I use granulated sugar instead of light brown sugar?

For sure! I like using light brown sugar for its subtle toffee taste and because it is less refined. You can, however, substitute it with a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar. Equally delicious!

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

Though I have never tested it, I believe it would work by replacing all-purpose flour with a 1:1 ratio of gluten-free baking flour (with added xanthan gum).


How long does this Lemon Ricotta Cake keep?

This recipe can be kept for 3 days on the counter, covered with cling film.


Other Delicious Cake Recipes


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sliced lemon ricotta loaf cake on a serving dish

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Craving a comforting lemon cake to brighten your breakfast or tea time? This Lemon Ricotta Cake should do the trick! Extra moist, with wetter crumbs than your usual loaf cake, it is made super light with the addition of delicious ricotta cheese. And... you only need 15 minutes to prepare the batter; the rest is just baking time!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Diet Vegetarian
Servings 8

INGREDIENTS
 

  • ½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter one stick, softened, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1 scant cup (180 g) light brown sugar
  • 4 (60 ml) lemons preferably organic, zested + ¼ cup
  • 3 large free-range eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 g) fresh Italian ricotta cheese at room temperature
  • 1 ⅓ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C).
  • Grease an 8.5 x 4.5-inch (21.5 cm x 11.5 cm) loaf pan with room-temperature butter.
  • Line with a piece of parchment paper the same length as the bottom of your pan. Make sure to leave parchment overhangs on both sides to help remove the cake from the pan (see picture above in the post).
  • Using a handheld mixer, mix the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Add the lemon zest and mix until well incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the eggs and beat well until combined. (It is okay if the mixture looks a bit separated.)
  • Add the ricotta cheese and lemon juice and beat until just combined, about 10 seconds.
  • Add the flaky sea salt, and sift the baking powder and flour.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until just combined and no pockets of flour remain. Do not overwork the batter of the cake will lose its lightness.
  • Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes until risen, cooked through, and golden in color.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan.
  • Let it cool down completely. It's ready! Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

NIM KEYS - USEFUL TIPS

Ingredients’ temperature is key to getting the best result.

  1. Ideally, take butter, eggs, and ricotta 30 minutes before starting baking.
  2. Chop up the butter into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and let it sit at room temperature while you prepare all the other ingredients and preheat your oven.

If you forgot to take the ingredients out of the fridge in advance:

  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes, then place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave at low power (about 20%) for 20 seconds.
  2. Place the eggs in a bowl filled with warm tap water for 5 minutes. Pat them dry with a kitchen cloth, and they’ll be good to go.

To make sure the cake is cooked, insert a toothpick. If it comes out with moist crumbs, you are good to go.

NUTRITION

Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 9gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 307mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 606IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 154mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Italian lemon ricotta cake, lemon ricotta cake, moist lemon cake
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