Lemon and ricotta cake

Lemon and ricotta cake

Torta di limone e ricotta

1 cake, serves 8
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

This is a dolce casalingo, the kind of homemade cake you would find sitting on someone’s kitchen counter. It’s a sturdy cake with a good crumb, not too sweet or showy, with a subtle hint of lemon. It’s the perfect vehicle for dunking, and plain enough to make an ideal Italian breakfast, together with a deep, oversized mug of caffe latte.

Also known as the torta del tre, or the ‘cake of three’, it’s a recipe I make a lot because it’s quick and so very simple to remember (once you learn the main ingredients, you never really need to look at it again). It’s also an extremely forgiving cake, so whether you make it round, rectangular or decide to add something new to it (a drizzle of lemon or rosemary icing, perhaps), it’s a nice one to have lying around at home, inviting children and adults alike to take thick slices of it with its simple, homely look.


Quantity Ingredient
3 eggs, separated
300g caster sugar
300g ricotta
1 lemon, juiced and zested
300g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 22 cm round cake tin or an 11 x 26 cm loaf (bar) tin and line it with baking paper.
  2. In a clean, large bowl (preferably glass or ceramic), beat the egg whites with an electric beater until soft peaks form.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and ricotta for 1–2 minutes, until creamy. Add the lemon juice and zest. Fold in the flour and baking powder and finally the whites.
  4. Fold in the milk. Depending on the quality and firmness of your ricotta, you may find it is quite a dense batter – you may wish to add a splash more milk to loosen it.
  5. Pour into the tin and bake for approximately 45–55 minutes, or until golden and springy on top. A skewer poked through the middle should come out clean.
  6. Serve just as is with tea or coffee, for breakfast or as a snack. When wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge, it will keep for 3–4 days.


  • Because this cake uses ricotta as the fat, rather than butter or oil, it’s a good idea to choose a full-fat ricotta for flavour and texture. If you can, sheep’s milk ricotta is preferable – it’s a little richer, has more flavour and is more traditional than cow’s milk ricotta in the Maremma. Try to buy the kind of ricotta that is very fresh, made as traditionally as possible (in other words, from whey) and that could stand on its own.
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