Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon Ricotta Cake ~ a light yet moist cake, flavoured with tangy lemon zest and a covering layer of crunchy flaked almonds.

We were given dishes to try from the country of Malta by our host Yasmeen of A Wandering Spice .

Located just 95 kms south of Sicily (Italy) and 290 kms from the North African coast Maltese cuisine is strongly influenced by these two regions as well as it’s history.

Having to import most of its foodstuffs, being positioned along important trade routes, and having to cater for the resident foreign powers who ruled the islands, opened Maltese cuisine to outside influences from very early on. Foreign dishes and tastes were absorbed, transformed and adapted. Italian (specifically Sicilian), Middle Eastern and Arabic foods exerted a strong influence, but the presence in Malta of the Knights of St John and, more recently, the British brought elements from further afield.

The Knights hailed from many European countries; particularly, France, Italy and Spain. They brought influences from these countries. Aljotta, for example, a fish broth with plenty of garlic, herbs, and tomatoes, is the Maltese adaptation of bouillabaisse. The Knights’ contacts and wealth brought also food from the New World; it has been suggested that Malta may have been one of the first countries in Europe (after Spain) where chocolate was first tasted.

The British military presence meant a market of a garrison and their families and, later, mass tourism from the UK. British food products, condiments and sauces like English mustard, Bovril, HP Sauce and Worcestershire sauce are still a subtle but pervasive presence in Maltese cooking. Other imports were only nominal. While the Maltese word “aljoli” is likely to be a loan word, the Maltese version of the sauce does not include any egg as in aioli; instead it is based on herbs, olives, anchovies and olive oil. Similarly, while the Maltese word “taġen” is related to “tajine” in Maltese the word refers exclusively to a metal pan.


The national dish of Malta is Fenkata (stewed rabbit). Our choice of dishes to cook from had ingredients more readily available to the masses. Pastizzi ( a savoury pastry), Brodu (a classic Maltese broth) and a Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake.

I of course went with the flourless cake. It was my second attempt at a flourless cake using almonds as I’d before failed earlier in the month and it went the same way this time, me and flourless cakes just don’t mix. I baked this cake  however, after cooking for double the amount of time stated it had a burnt, cracked exterior and raw center which of course then started to collapse into a crater.

I don’t really know the reason why the cake didn’t work because I followed the recipe exactly using the same ingredients, same size cake tin etc but I did use a gas oven and although I have an oven thermometer I definitely know from previous experience of owning an electric oven, gas and electric ovens don’t heat and cook food the same way.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Anyways, I tried again. This time a Lemon Ricotta Cake containing flour, it worked!

I adapted the recipe slightly by covering the cake with a layer of flaked almonds before baking instead of candied lemon slices, for added texture plus I had almonds leftover and the original cake assigned contained a lot of almonds.

I was slightly disappointed with the rise but that’s only because I didn’t use a heaped teaspoon of baking powder and as mary berry and paul hollywood have taught me to always fold egg white into the batter until it’s no longer visible unlike this recipe it said Gently fold the egg white mixture into the batter. Just turn the mixture over itself 5 or 6 times, using a large spatula. Don’t worry about any ‘lumpy’ bits of egg white- they’ll disappear once the cake is cooked. 


So you see, I don’t always follow instruction. Despite all that the cake turned out still fairly light, yet moist from using creamy ricotta cheese in the batter. The flavour is lemony but not smack you in the mouth type sharp and the almond crust gave pleasant toasted nuttiness and crunch.

I sliced my cake whilst it was warm and enjoyed along with a cup of earl grey.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Rating: 3

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 1 x 23cm cake

Serving Size: 8

  • 175g plain flour
  • 160g golden sugar
  • 150g ricotta cheese
  • 3 med. eggs, separated
  • 80g soft butter
  • Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsps of juice)
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • flaked almonds*optional


  1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 160C/ 180C Fan / 320F.Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin or silicone bakeware with baking parchment and butter the sides of the tin.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer fitted with beater attachment and beat together till nice and smooth, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ricotta to the butter mixture (you can sieve the ricotta first if you want to ensure no lumps). Give it a quick mix then begin beating in the egg YOLKS, bit by bit, along with a heaped tablespoon of the flour. The mixture should be beaten till it’s very light and fluffy.
  4. Next, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the baking powder to the rest of the flour then sift the mixture straight into the bowl, beating the mixture gently until just blended (don’t overbeat)
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks (like meringue). Gently fold the egg white mixture into the batter until no more bits of egg white are visible.
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and spread out gently with the back of a spoon. If using sprinkle with a layer of flaked almonds.Bake for approx 25-40mins.The top of the cake should feel slightly springy when you press it gently with your finger.
  7. Allow the cake to cool down in the tin for about 15 mins. Remove from the tin, sprinkle with icing sugar.
Lemon Ricotta Cake
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Lemon Ricotta Cake

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