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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder & salt then whisk to combine and set aside.
On stand mixer with paddle attachment cream your butter until smooth. Then add sugar and cream until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one by one then add vanilla. The mix should be slightly lumpy. Remove bowl from mixer.
Add half of your flour mixture and half the ricotta. Gently fold by hand until half COMBINED.
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.
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.
Finish with icing sugar and serve with macerated berries, fruit preserves, whipped cream, a dollop of pastry cream, or ALL OF THE ABOVE!
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.
Keywords: Lemon Ricotta Cake, Lemon Cake, Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake
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.