This lovely, light lemon ricotta cake is a wonderful way to end any meal or for a special dessert. Featured here topped with Candied Lemons, but adaptable to any topping.
Ricotta cakes are such a lovely and light dessert and this lemon version is the perfect way to enjoy some bright flavours and colours in the middle of winter.
If you’ve never had a ricotta cake, it is lighter than a cheesecake and as its ricotta cheese based instead of cream cheese based, it’s flavour is more subtle. It’s lovely and light, so a nice way to finish a meal. It’s also a great base cake for any number of toppings.
I’ve topped mine with candied lemons (instructions on how to make the candied lemons is below!), but this cake is lovely with lemon curd and/or fresh berries and/or a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream.
As I mentioned above, this cake is lovely with any number of toppings. Fresh fruit is always a great option, as is a chunky sauce or puree of blueberries or raspberries. Lemon curd would be perfect.
As ricotta forms the majority of the ingredients of this cake, seek out some great, fresh ricotta. Be sure to allow it to sit to remove as much moisture as possible, before using in the cake.
No cheesecloth? Use a coffee filter to line your strainer!
The candied lemons can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Get the Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cake with Candied Lemons
- 3 cups (738 ml) ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
- 1/4 cup (31.25 g) unbleached all purpose flour
- 4 (4) egg yolks
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp (14.79 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 4 (4) egg whites
- 1/4 cup (50 g) white sugar
- Icing/confectioners sugar, for dusting
- 2 large (2 large) lemons
- Ice water
- 2 cups (400 g) white sugar
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- Do ahead: In a cheesecloth lined strainer placed over a bowl, strain the ricotta for 12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- To make Candied Lemons (if using): Thinly slice the lemons and remove any pits. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Set aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and boil lemon slices for one minute, then remove to the ice water until completely cooled, then drain the water/ice. In a medium-sized skillet, bring white sugar and water to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices in a single layer and gently simmer, turning a few times, for about 1 hour, or until rinds are translucent. Remove lemon slices to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 Butter an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the ricotta, 3/4 cup white sugar, flour, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Set aside or if using stand mixer, remove to a large bowl and clean bowl.
- In another bowl (or clean stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk), beat the egg whites with 1/4 sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Use a spatula to gently fold the egg whites in to the ricotta mixture. Pour in to prepared pan.
- Place in to preheated oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until it is golden and set. Remove to a cooling rack to cool in the pan. Cake will sag or sink in the middle. Once cooled, leave in pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, run a knife around the outside of the pan and unmould. Dust with icing sugar and top with Candied Lemons or the topping of your choice.
Do i measure the ricotta before or after i strain it?
I only have a 16-oz container of fresh whole milk ricotta, so plan to halve the recipe & bake it in a smaller foil-lined baking dish or maybe just divide the batter into individual ramekins or custard cups, and watch carefully to remove from oven when done way sooner than 50 mins. My oven heats unevenly, so my habit baking most things is to rotate the pans 1/3 every 7-10 minutes & check/test til done, rather than assume the prescribed time will work for me. Cheers!
Hi Lynne, you should measure it out after it is drained. Enjoy!
Are we supposed to eat the candied lemon leaving the rind only or just eat all ? … I’m not very experienced in the baking arena … upping my game though … Im beavering away in the kitchen as I passed my final professional examination and plan to
surprise my friends with a thank you cake .. this is going to be divine …. I can’t wait ..
You can eat them or not Louisa. They are sweetened and softened, so they are definitely edible or just treat them as a garnish.
I am just about to make this gorgeous cheesecake . Quick question : does it keep for a few days in the fridge or can you freeze it ? Thanks LP
Hi Louisa, it should keep a day at least in the fridge. I don’t think I’d freeze it.
ITs almost one in the morning UK time and I have another hour to go before the candied lemons are ready … the cake is looking good … I’ll tuck it up in the fridge overnight ( over the early hours of this morning … !! ) and take it out at 0800 hrs today !!! .. I’m tired but I simply MUST go on …. watch this space people !!!! so excited … !!
Made this the same day we (Luci and I) made the lemon poppy seed scones. Our cake was just as gorgeous, which surprised us ;) ~ we doubled the zest, juice, and added Lorann lemon oil, as well in this recipe. Still, the lemon flavor seemed to mellow, and the ricotta was not as creamy as we expected. In fairness, ricotta is not a creamy-smooth cheese, so we prolly just didn’t think it through. Otherwise, it was delicious. The candied lemon slices are definitely a marmalade, and wonderful if you love marmalade ~ which we do. Luci (my eight year old grand-blessing) and I love ALL things lemon. Love your photos, too!
Thanks Deeba and Luci! And yes, this is one of those things where we are expecting one thing and get something else. Not in a bad way, but it does require a moment to shift. Like you, I expected cheesecake, but of course, ricotta isn’t cream cheese. Once I processed that, I really enjoyed this slice. So lovely and light and a great base for full-flavoured toppings or fresh fruit.
What a beautifully bright cake to perk us all up during the winter Jennifer! And those candied lemons to top it off are such a wonderful idea!
Thanks so much, Mary Ann. My husband loved the candied lemons. He was eating the leftovers like … candy :)
I love this bright and sunny cake! The perfect treat to bring some sunshine in on a winter day :)
Thanks Laura and glad to bring a little sunshine :)
I can think of a zillion variations and ways to serve this beautiful cake. And you’re right, it would be a perfect ending to a dinner party!
Thanks Chris and yes, it is lovely with any fruit!
Any kind of cake makes my heart go pitter-patter, but especially cakes made with cheese! This looks just perfect, Jennifer! So fluffy, light and moist! Plus I just adore all things citrus right now, so those candied lemons are screaming my name! I could use a few slices of this for breakfast! Drooling! Cheers!
Thanks Cheyanne and yes, citrus is the only bright spot in my otherwise monochromatic world at the moment. Soaking it up :)
YAY for lemons!
I really love those little yellow round balls of sour juicy goodness. :-D
This dessert looks fabulous Jennifer, just fabulous!
One question, is sharing an option? ;-)
Thanks Dalila :) I am so enjoying all the lemon this week. It’s brightening me up just looking at it :)
This looks like a glorious plate of sunshine, I’m in love! I’ve got a huge pile of citrus that I’m working with this week, so this is giving me such inspiration ~ sharing all over the place!
Thanks Sue and yes, it really brightens up these dreary days!
I have never tried a ricotta cake like this before but am totally smitten with lemon! It looks so pillowy light, I bet it tastes dreamy! I adore citrus desserts and this one just moved to the top of my list! Great dessert for one of my monthly family dinners :) Thank you!
Thanks Tricia. Ricotta cakes are so unique. They are very light and are a perfect base for some great strong flavours from fruit or lemons or curd etc. Would be a great dessert cake after a big meal, as it’s not heavy at all.