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Lemon Ricotta Cake with Berries, Food Gypsy

Never Fail Lemon Ricotta Cake

There’s nothing more disappointing in the kitchen than spending hours on something special only to have it fail, hard. That’s why I call this my “Never Fail Lemon Ricotta Cake”, it won’t fail you the way others failed me. Moist and rich, it’s an Italian-inspired, classic, single-layer cake that’s ripe and fresh for spring and summer.   

Lemon Ricotta Cake Ingredients, Food Gypsy

Love & Lemons

This cake recipe was two weeks in making, with an additional two weeks of advance planning. It was a new recipe, something I’d never tried before, so I wanted to do my research and understand the nuances of the cultural traditions.

I love Italian cuisine, it’s decidedly less fussy than French cuisine, with the emphasis on ingredients as opposed to how the ingredients are used. Lemon Ricotta Cake graces many a countertop in Italian kitchens.  It’s typically served plain, with nothing but icing sugar to finish, and fresh macerated berries. Add a dollop of whipped cream for extra pizazz, or go all-in with a fresh creamy Lemon White Chocolate Pastry Cream for pure decadence.

Simple. Elegant. Fresh.


Cake should not make you cry! #recipedevoloper #cake #foryou #nocryingtoday

♬ original sound – Food Gypsy

When Good Cake Goes Bad

Unlike cuisine, when a pastry recipe fails it’s typically not savable, because you often don’t know it’s failed until it’s too late. That’s what happened to me. I chose a popular Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe from a well-reputed site specializing in Italian food. I followed directions to the letter. I took my time and read through the recipe, twice. What I did not do was read the comments below.  If I had, I would have seen that dozens and dozens of people failed with that recipe.

Cakes that didn’t set. Cakes that fell. Cakes that were raw in the middle… just like my cake. Which, after the tears, found its way to the compost. There were no adjustments to the recipe, no answers to the many queries on that recipe, just silence.

Lemon Ricotta Cake, Slice - Food Gypsy

Cake, should not, make you cry!

Cake is happiness and joy. Cake is birthdays and parties. Cake is celebration! You should only cry over cake if it’s ‘break-up’ cake, or possibly ‘I just got lay-off’ cake, otherwise, there’s no crying over cake!

That’s why I call this my Never Fail Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe. I’ve increased the leavening agent (baking powder), made it infinitely simpler for easier execution and less time in the kitchen.


Lemon Ricotta Cake. Yum! #learntocook #foryou #cake #yum #recipes

♬ 1,2,3,4 (One, Two, Three, Four) – Fun Elektro Mix – Funbeat

But WHY?!

Let’s touch base for a moment on why that cake lemon ricotta cake recipe failed. First, a good rule of thumb: any cake should contain at least one teaspoon of baking powder per cup of four, more if your ingredients are wet and heavy – like three eggs and over a cup of ricotta. Otherwise, it might not rise, or set well.

Second, the more liquid the harder your leavening agent has to work. My best recommendation for excellent, never fail results? Drain your ricotta.  I used a fine sieve over a small bowl. Cheesecloth in colander would have been equally effective. Regardless of your method, the dryer the ricotta, the better.

Lemon Ricotta Cake with berries -Food-Gypsy

Fancy Equipment vs. Elbow Grease

Do you need a stand mixer for this cake? No, absolutely not. You can make it with a plain old-fashioned wooden spoon, a couple of bowls (dry mix, wet mix, ricotta), and a spatula. You’ll need to break out the muscles, but it’s very doable. Remember: a lumpy batter makes a smooth cake. You don’t need to beat the batter within an inch of its life. we’re going for well mixed.

Whether you’re using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, one crutial instruction: scrape your bowl between steps.

One of the most common mistakes made in the sweet side of the kitchen is leaving ingredients in the bowl.  If you butter is still in the bowl, it’s not in your batter.  So scrape the sides, ALLLL the way around, and be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl too.  Gat all that goodness in your cake, not down the drain.

Lessons in Cake and Life

One of the reasons I write is to impart some joy into my life and yours! A great meal can make your day. A great cake can be the hit of the party. Cooking should be FUN. What you cook should taste GREATand if something you try here doesn’t work out, please, FOR GOD’S SAKE let me know and I’ll re-test the recipe and fix it if it needs fixing.

Ain’t no crying over MY Lemon Ricotta Cake. I’m not having that!


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Lemon Ricotta Cake

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 - 9 inch cake 1x


This “Never Fail Lemon Ricotta Cake” won’t fail you the way other recipes failed me!  This classic Italian Cake is moist and rich and packed with ripe and fresh flavour for spring and summer. It’s a huge hit in our house!



Lemon Ricotta Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened plus 1 tablespoon for pan
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½  cups whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 lemon, zest, and juice
  • 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 23 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided

Macerated Berries:

  • 2 cups strawberries, raspberries & blackberries, combined
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


Lemon Ricotta Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F (175C⁰).  Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by coating the inside with about 1 tablespoon softened butter, and a coating of icing sugar. To be on the safe side, you can line the bottom with parchment paper for ease of removal. Reserve until needed.
  2. In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder & salt then whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. On stand mixer with paddle attachment cream your butter until smooth. Then add sugar and cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one by one then add vanilla. The mix should be slightly lumpy. Remove bowl from mixer.
  5. Add half of your flour mixture and half the ricotta. Gently fold by hand until half COMBINED.
  6. Add second half flour mixture, last of ricotta. Gently fold by hand until JUST COMBINED. Don’t beat it. Do not whip it.  Just gently fold, and scrape, folding in any remaining dry bits. Transfer into waiting prepared pan and bake for 45 – 55 minutes in a preheated  350⁰F (175C⁰) oven.
  7. The cake is done when it is set in the center. It should not jiggle in the pan if shaken. Your Lemon Ricotta Cake should be firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center should remove clean – except for a few crumbs. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before running a thin blade around the outside of the pan to loosen edges and unmolding.
  8. Finish with icing sugar and serve with macerated berries, fruit preserves, whipped cream, a dollop of pastry cream, or ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Macerated Berries:

  1. Slice strawberries in quarters.  Slice blackberries in half.  Use raspberries whole.  Add berries to medium-sized bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Lightly toss to coat.  Rest at room temperature for about an hour to allow natural juices to mix with melted sugar.  Spoon liberally over cake so that the juices run down the sides, and, ENJOY.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 Minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. G’day Cor greetings from the land downunder, I just came across your website as I’ve been researching extentsively for a ricotta cake recipe that is soft fluffy and moist but not dense, is your recipe dense? What baking conversion are you using. I can see you use cups but in Australia the cup size is different so I need to know what conversion you use? I notice you only use baking powder but no baking soda, and you are using lemon which is an acid ingredient and usually requires baking soda? Does the leavener used change the texture of the cake? During my research I’ve noticed that a lot of recipes advise to “cream butter and sugar, then add the ricotta and beat well till soft and fluffy” to ensure a soft fluffy cake. Have you tried creaming the ricotta after the creaming the butter and sugar? I notice you alternated adding the flour and ricotta, why that way? Have you tried separating the eggs and folding the whipped egg whites at the end for a fluffy cake?
    Looking forward to your reply

    1. Hi Sofia,
      You may have noted, this was not my first attempt at this cake. I tried several recipes/versions of recipes over the years, that were always flat, or fell, or were too dense. Frustrating. Alternating the flour and ricotta was part of my solution to ensure that the crumb of the cake was moist and light. Folding in the egg whites at the end did nothing. Baking soda was completely unnecessary once I got the batter to the right texture. I would not describe it as “fluffy” – there are too many eggs and too much cheese for “fluffy”. If you’re looking for a fluffier cake with this flavour combination I might switch to a chiffon style, where your egg whites do the lifting.

      Interested to hear your results! Please keep me posted.
      Don’t cry over cake!

      1. G’day Cor, I’m so grateful and appreciative of your advice and after I’ve finalised my research. ( I too, like to research and like looking at reviews to see what the trend is) So I guess i will have a few ricotta cakes to do, but I promise I will give feedback.
        Cheers Cori.

  2. G’day Cori, can you please tell me if you use canadian baking conversions like Anna Olson or UISA conversions please.

    1. G’day Sophia!
      My conversion is Canadian, so one cup = 250g (depending on the ingredient, as baking powder, for instance, is lighter than flour).

      However, the recipe plug-in I use on the blog is USA based, so if you’re looking at the conversions on the recipe itself, that’s American Imperial measurement. I think I still have my original notes on this recipe, I could convert to metric if you like. I cook metric as well, in the pro kitchen. Might take me a couple of days to get to it, but I’d be happy to do that for you.

      Let me know!

  3. Cori
    My daughter tried this recipe last year and it was amazing! I started making it for a dinner party this spring and have since made it 5 times. It is moist, flavorful and with the macerated fruit looks beautiful. Thanks for perfecting this recipe. I am going to AU for Xmas and am going to introduce to my family, I’m sure it will be a hit. Terry

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