This Italian-inspired lemon cake features freshly squeezed lemon juice, ricotta fresca, spelt flour and olive oil. It’s moist, lemony, and delicious! Lightly sweet, it’s the kind of cake you want to serve with afternoon coffee or tea. Or you could even serve it as a treat for brunch with some fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
This recipe is inspired from my love of lemon cookies as well as an Italian lemon ricotta cake which is often made with ground almonds. There are no almonds in this recipe, and rather than using butter which is often used in baking, it is made with olive oil which makes the crumb moist and tender, not to mention healthier! Lemon is the star of this cake, which is made with both freshly squeezed lemon juice and its zest. Together with powdered icing sugar, it’s lightly sweet and tart. And 100% delicious.
Using olive oil in cakes
In the Mediterranean, with olives in abundance, the use of olive oil in baking is tradition. Using olive oil, rather than butter in baking adds a distinct but delicious flavour to baking goods. For the best flavor, use a a mild, extra-virgin olive oil with a fruity, buttery note. One that is fresh (i.e. not an old bottle at the back of the cupboard from two years ago) as olive oil also has a best before date. And remember the better the olive oil, the better the flavor of the cake. A good rule of thumb is, that if you don’t like the flavor of the olive oil when you dip bread into it, then you likely won’t like it in your baked goods.
Key lemon cake ingredients
Ricotta Fresca: is an especially fine, delicate and creamy Italian cream cheese. It has a mild and light taste.
Flour: I like use spelt flour for most of my baking. However, if preferred you can use regular flour or cake flour. If you can’t find cake flour, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of flour with arrowroot powder. This will give the cake a lighter texture.
Lemon: Use fresh, organic lemons with a firm skin and whether you are using a box grater, a microplane or a vegetable peeler, be sure that you don’t dig in too deep to the bitter pith of the fruit. Lightly zest the fruit and make sure you rotate it while doing so, so you don’t over grate.
Looking for other easy to make coffee cake recipes:
Try one of these delicious cake recipes:
- Jam Crumble Cake
- Almond Cake with Ricotta and Lemon (Flourless)
- Apple Crumb Cake
- Chocolate Almond Cake (gluten-free)
Easy Lemon Cake with Ricotta
- 125 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, from an organic lemon
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (90 ml)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 100 g powdered sugar, sifted
- 250 g spelt flour, sifted (type 630)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 250 g ricotta fresca cheese
- Powdered sugar, to serve
Pre-heat oven to 360°F / 180°C (160°C fan-assisted).
Grease and line the bottom of a springform (Ø 24cm) with baking paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs and powdered sugar. Beat for 4-5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. (Alternatively, use a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer).
In a separate bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture and ricotta cheese to the bowl with the olive oil-egg mixture. Using a spatula, gently combine the ingredients. Do not over mix! The batter does not need to be smooth; there should be some small lumps of ricotta left. It should be quite thick, however if it seems too dry, add a tablespoon or so of plain yoghurt or milk.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform and use a spatula to smooth the top.
Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes until golden and small cracks appear on top. When inserting a toothpick it should come out clean, or have a few small crumbs attached to it.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes before releasing the sides of the springform. Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve. Enjoy!
- When zesting the lemon, be careful to avoid the white pith as this is bitter-tasting.
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