Lemon-Ricotta Cake


This light and airy cake gets its texture from whole-milk ricotta in the batter. "I first created this cake by accident, substituting the ricotta I had in my refrigerator for the sour cream that my recipe called for," says  2020 F&W Best New Chef Camille Cogswell of Asheville, North Carolina, who shared her recipe with Food & Wine. "The result was, happily, far superior to the original! Now, this super moist and tender ricotta cake with bright lemon flavor is one of my go-tos; it comes together quickly and easily and is still exceptional even after a few days sitting on the counter. By itself, it's a perfect gift to a friend. Dressed up with soft whipped cream and showered in seasonal fresh fruit, it becomes quite an elegant dinner dessert with minimal effort."

Lemon-Ricotta Cake
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins


  • Cooking spray

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 1/2 ounces), softened

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour (about 5 3/4 oz.)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • Powdered sugar, whipped cream, and fall fruit, for serving (see Note)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of cake pan with a round of parchment paper; coat parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.

  2. Combine sugar and lemon zest in bowl of a stand mixer, and rub them together between your hands, dispersing the zest and infusing the sugar with the lemon oils. Add butter to lemon sugar, and attach paddle attachment to mixer. Beat butter and lemon sugar on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes, stopping to scrape down bowl and paddle occasionally.

  3. Add eggs to butter mixture, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition to fully incorporate before adding next egg, about 45 seconds total. Beat in lemon extract, if using, until combined, about 10 seconds.

  4. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture in mixer bowl; beat on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds. Stop mixer, and scrape down sides of bowl. Add ricotta; beat on low speed until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add remaining flour mixture; beat on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds. Give the bowl and paddle a good scrape with your spatula, then beat for 3 more seconds to make sure it's homogenous.

  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top using an offset spatula. Bake in preheated oven until cake top springs back at the touch and has a light golden hue and a wooden pick poked in center of cake comes out without looking wet, 30 to 35 minutes.

  6. Remove cake from oven; let cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan; turn cake out onto a wire rack. Let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream and fruit.

Make Ahead

Cake can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.


Figs, pears, late-season melons, persimmons, and preserved citrus are great options for serving.

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