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This light lemon ricotta cake recipe is the happy result of a few kitchen mishaps. First, I made a NOVICE mistake and starting making a coffee cake recipe that called for sour cream. I was SURE I had sour cream in the fridge but I was wrong. Thankfully, I had a little bit of ricotta left over from a pasta recipe. Honestly, I’ve never baked with ricotta before, though I have longingly admired ricotta cakes on Instagram so this was my chance. The result is a very light crumb cake, with a lovely mouth feel.

The lemony element was again, the result of a mistake. I over-baked the cake. It happens, right? Who can blame me? It was a beautiful spring day and I went outside, forgetting the timer. When I took the cake out, likely 5-10 minutes longer than I should have, it looked a little dry around the outside. I quickly created a lemon/sugar syrup (using up a half of a lemon also sitting in the fridge) to pour over the cake, essentially to salvage it.

I would definitely make this again. The family devoured it. Options for next time include making a lemon icing to elevate this from a simple cake to enjoy during a coffee break, to become a celebration (or weekend!) cake. I am confident that it would also be lovely as a vanilla cake, by leaving out the lemon syrup at the end. Instead you could just ice it, or serve with a drizzle of Dulce le Leche, or ice cream. I would also love to experiment and add some fruit into it, blueberries, raspberries, peaches or plums are inspiring me! (Watch this space!) My daughter also suggested icing it with Nutella. I think you get the idea. This is a simple cake that would pair well with almost anything. I’ll let you know how it goes when I make it again with fruit.

Light Lemon Cake

Lemon Ricotta Cake

This easy to make vanilla cake is accented by a lemon drizzle. Includes ricotta for a light, moist crumb.
Prep Time 18 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Dessert



  • 3/4 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs large size
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ricotta I used regular (not light)
  • 3/4 cup milk I used 1 %

Lemon Drizzle

  • 1/2 Lemon – juice of This was about 3-4 tbsp juice
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 9×13 pan with parchment. Set aside.
  • With a mixer, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. You will likely have to use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the bowl at least once.
  • Add eggs, beating in each time. Add vanilla with the last egg.
  • Add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix to just combine. Don't over mix.
  • Add ricotta and milk. Combine. I used the spatula to ensure the bottom was evenly mixed in.
  • Pour into pan and spread evenly. The mixture was rather thick. Bake for approx 30-40 minutes. You will know when it is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the edges are lightly golden.
  • While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Combine lemon juice and sugar in bowl. Use the back of the spoon to press out any large lumps of sugar. Alternately, you could press the sugar through a fine sieve before adding to the lemon juice to prevent lumps.
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, poke evenly with the toothpick all over, and drizzle evenly with the lemon glaze. Do this while the cake is hot. Let rest in the pan until moderately cool, then lift out using the parchment paper. Serve as is or ice with a white/lemon icing.


I did not test this but I suggest that you could make this more lemony if you finely grate the peel of the 1/2 lemon and add this into the cake mixture. I’d add it with the ricotta and milk near the end.
Keyword cake, lemon, ricotta, vanilla

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