italian almond ricotta cake, my way.

italian almond ricotta cake, my way. |

Well, it only took 4 attempts…

I’m the type that can’t rest until I’ve conquered a recipe that’s been nagging at my subconscious.

I’ll think about day in and day out and until I pass out.

A traditional almond ricotta cake is sweet, and lightly scented with almond and lemon. The texture is notably ‘squidgy’ due to the fact that it’s flourless, made with almond meal only.

The problem is, the majority of our house prefers a more bouncy, cake-like texture.

And so the mission began…

I tested this cake with the heightening power of whipped egg whites, without egg whites, almond paste, without almond paste, all-purpose flour, without all-purpose flour, different flavored extracts…

I’ve learned there are many different variations, and rightfully so, as this cake has roots in Italy and varies according to region (and Italian Nona).

My version certainly doesn’t claim to be traditional.

But it celebrates the integrity of its origins with a few shortcuts to make life easier.

italian almond ricotta cake, my way. |

The Shortcuts

This recipe requires only one bowl, and the batter is easily mixed by hand.

There are no egg whites to whip, which saves on time and clean up (and sanity if the term ‘stiff peaks’ freaks you out).

Almond extract is used instead of almond paste, as it’s easier to find.

Cold ricotta is used instead of room temperature ricotta (who has time to wait for room temperature anything?). Because there is melted butter in this recipe, the residual heat helps to loosen up the ricotta. It doesn’t necessarily warm up the batter, but mixing is easier and it is less likely to seize up.

For best results, make sure to follow the exact mixing procedure outlined in the recipe below.

italian almond ricotta cake, my way. |

How to Make it Cake-Like

This cake wouldn’t be almond cake without almond meal.

It’s essential.

However, too much almond meal will make it more dense and ‘squidgy’ as mentioned above.

So, to give it that cake-like texture I was looking for, the addition of all-purpose flour was necessary.  Also, liquid in the form of 4 eggs helps to loosen the batter. This accounts for a more cake-like texture as well.

I’ll admit that it took several attempts to get the exact ratio of ingredients pinned down, but that’s half of the fun!

Well, at least for the recipe obsessed…

italian almond ricotta cake, my way. | theclevercarrot.comitalian almond ricotta cake, my way. |

See? Simple, right?

Don’t forget to dust the top with powdered sugar when completely cool, and then cut into wedges.

The texture is smooth, soft, and velvety. It’s not super bouncy like birthday cake, but it’s definitely not as ‘squidgy’ as the traditional version.

And, in case you’re wondering, the almond and lemon flavors are subtle and do not dominate at all. It’s just enough to make you go Mmm…

Serve with a dollop of pillowy whipped cream, and sliced strawberries sprinkled with sugar, if you’d like.

Just imagine all of those strawberry juices poured over the top of a big, thick slice…

• • • • • • • • •

Kitchen Notes

Tips: This cake was made with almond meal, which accounts for its darker chestnut color. You can also use blanched almond meal (also known as almond flour) for a more golden ‘blonde’ look. Blanched almond meal is usually more expensive.

Store any unused almond meal in the freezer. It will last longer.

When measuring the almond meal and flour (respectively), gently spoon the flour into your measuring cup. Do not pack. This will yield the most accurate measurement, which is important.

Substitutions: You can leave out the lemon zest (it’s mild, as mentioned above). But don’t leave out the almond extract; it adds essential flavor.

However… my husband does’t care for almond, so I made a version just for him with vanilla extract, and no zest. It was delicious, but a completely different cake.

Make-Ahead: This is best served on the same day that it is baked. Otherwise, the almonds will lose their crunch as the cake becomes softer overtime. Just make it in the morning to serve later.

italian almond ricotta cake, my way. |

Italian almond ricotta cake, my way
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 cake
  • pat of butter, for coating the pan
  • sprinkle of sugar
For the cake
  • 1 stick (113 g) of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of 2 lemons, preferably organic & unwaxed
  • 1 capful of pure almond extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta, part skim or whole
  • 1½ cups almond meal*
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup flaked almonds, plus more as needed
  • powdered sugar, for decoration
Garnish (optional)
  • fresh whipped cream
  • sliced strawberries sprinkled with sugar
*When measuring the almond meal and flour (respectively), gently spoon the flour into your measuring cup. Do not pack. This will yield the most accurate measurement.
** This cake is best served on the same day that it is baked.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Sprinkle with sugar.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and almond extract. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add the ricotta and continue to whisk with gusto until there are no lumps present (a few small lumps are ok, but the batter shouldn't look like cottage cheese). This step is essential for a light and fluffy texture.
  5. Add the almond meal, flour, and baking powder. Mix gently to combine.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
  7. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
  8. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes (check at the 35 minute mark). Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake; if it comes out clean it's ready.
  9. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Then remove the outer ring to finish cooling.
  10. Right before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
  11. Cut into slices and serve.



    • Emilie says

      Thank you, Jenny! I will warn you, this is the type of cake that you walk past in the kitchen, slice off a little bit, only to return for more. The texture is very addicting, in the most unique way. We’ve been grazing all morning!

  1. Jane Macomber says

    I am looking forward to making this as I love almonds. I would like to thank you for gadgets that I received from your give away. I love them and had so much fun trying them out. Thank you very much.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Jane!

      That’s wonderful to hear. I’m so glad you like your gift basket. Have you tried the zester? I love mine! You can use it to zest the lemons for this recipe ;) xx

  2. says

    Oh my, but this one sounds great, and it looks absolutely beautiful. I am looking forward to trying it, most especially because I have found that cakes with ricotta can be tricky. I have often found that cakes with ricotta – if the ratio is not right – can be rubbery. Ugh. Do you suggest draining the ricotta?

    • Emilie says

      Hello Amica!

      Ah yes, the rubbery ricotta cake. I could’t agree with you more. At first, I was convinced this undesirable texture had to do with the (cold) temperature of the ricotta. But even at room temperature, the cakes I’ve tried (this one and pound cake versions) were rubbery and dense, no matter what. I run into this problem with yogurt cakes too. Then I realized, the ricotta needs enough liquid to ‘dissolve’ into the batter, as opposed to folding it in. Does that make sense?

      So here, I use 4 eggs to help with the liquid factor. The ricotta is whisked with gusto into the batter until no lumps are present, and I promise the texture is not rubbery at all. And my ricotta is cold! The texture produces a tight and smooth crumb, with a velvet-like quality. It’s unique. Also, as mentioned, I do believe the right amount of almond flour: all purpose flour plays a role too. Too much almond flour is where the problems begin.

      And… the answer your question, I don’t believe draining the ricotta beforehand is necessary. You actually need that extra liquid, at least in this recipe anyway.


    • Emilie says

      Thank you very much, Laura. The combo is wonderful, isn’t? I love the fragrance of almond extract. And lemons? What’s not to love?!

  3. says

    I absolutely love ricotta based cakes and done right it’s the best. I am all for one bowl and no whipping eggs part.. I am absolutely loving all your tips and your pretty cake. I hear it’s it is tricky, I only know too well, I’ve been working on a cake for the last couple of weeks..;).
    Can’t wait to make a ricotta cake soon. Lovely pictures Emily.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Asha! Thank you :) For whatever reason, I cringe at whipping egg whites, although not difficult, but it’s the thought process that gets the best of me! Here, they’re not needed anyway, as the texture is wonderful and soft. What we do for the perfect recipe! I totally hear you girlfriend. x

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Hannah! That’s exactly it; the cake beckons from the counter and one must give in to a slice (or two!). And we did eat the whole thing ;)

    • Emilie says

      Hello Celia,

      I know, squidgy is an interesting word! (even auto-correct thinks so, as it wants to change it to ‘squiggly’ as I type this comment). This cake is definitely more cake-like than the original ricotta cake, in the best of ways. The kids actually asked me to make it again! I hope you like the recipe ;)

  4. Mary says

    Thanks so much for giving us details of the recipe. You have no idea how nice it is that you took all the guess work out of switching out ingredients. Now we know what works and what doesn’t. The ‘cake’ looks positively yummy. I can’t wait to make.


    • Emilie says

      Hello Mary!

      That is so kind of you to say! Thank you very much, I really appreciate your feedback. I guess this cake became sort of an obsession (in a good way) and hopefully my findings will help those who’ve encountered similar questions with regards to ricotta. Food research is the best research. Have fun with the recipe! xx

    • Emilie says

      Hello Laney,

      Oh, you just wait! It’s very good. You will like it. When I tested this recipe, I made a version without the almonds and the texture of the cake is wonderful even on day 2-3! So moist! And the crumb is so smooth… xo

  5. says

    I want this now, with the hot tea! Actually I think I’ll be up early Friday morning making it to take to school. I’m up to my elbows counting money this week for a school fundraiser and wanted to take something in for everyone helping. This would be perfect.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Gretchen,

      Well then, come on over! I’ve got mud and shovels out back for the boys. And lots of rocks. And random things they will (happily) get into. We can hide inside :)

      PS- this cake would make a wonderful sweet treat for your helpers! It slices very well. The boys loved it. x

  6. says

    What a beautiful cake. Thank you for your tireless devotion to getting the recipe right. I’ve made almond ricotta cakes before, and while delicious, are not an everyday craving for me. This looks like a great everyday ricotta cake.

    • Emilie says

      Hello my friend,

      You are quite welcome. I enjoy the insanity of recipe resting :) I agree with you about ricotta cakes (see comment to Adri above). This cake has an unexpectedly delicious texture that’s worth trying. xo

  7. says

    Any cake that only uses one bowl is definitely worth trying. I presume almond meal is what we call ground almonds – perhaps I’d better google it before I start melting the butter. It looks delicious.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Anne,

      Yes, I think so. A long as your ground almonds look dry, like sawdust, you’re good to go. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? xx

  8. dimitra says

    Emilie, can you substitute 1 cup almond flour instead of AP flour …. just bought a 3lb bag at Costco – you know how that goes !!!!

    thank you

    • Emilie says

      Hi there!

      Do you mean using 100% almond flour for this recipe? If so, keep in mind that the texture will not be the same as my recipe. It will be more dense. And, you will have to experiment with the overall baking time, extending it as needed (almond flour absorbs liquid at a slower rate). I’m curious to know how it goes! Enjoy!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Sarah,

      Thank you. I had a slight kitchen slip with a knife (and a finger nail!). But I’m getting better each day. Very kind of you to ask :) xx

  9. Hazel says

    This is the kinda cake that reminds one of home. Comforting, rustic and dangerous to be left alone with! Beautiful, this recipe is a keeper, dear Emilie.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Hazel,

      That’s wonderful. If you don’t mind me asking, where is home? I love food memories. They are the best, aren’t they? x

      • Hazel says

        Emilie, I’m from sunny Singapore. Food memories are precious and what keeps us alive and our bellies happy!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Rebecca!

      Well then- this cake is for you! Isn’t it funny how one can become obsessed with food and recipes? I have so many of these bouts, I can’t even keep track anymore. And yes to almond flavored baked goods! Have you tried it with brownies? I’m loving that particular combination, it’s addicting.

  10. says

    I was grinning from ear to ear when you said who has time for something to come to room temperature! Haha I hate that part because I always forget to put something or the other out. I usually end up cheating (and if you know me I hate hate cheating and spend most of the day feeling guilty!!!).
    I just absolutely love how this cake looks. I have never made a cake using ricotta (why??) and I can’t wait to try this one. It looks heavenly… <3

    • Emilie says

      Hello Rakhee,

      But isn’t it the case?! We don’t have a microwave so I resort to my own ways of bringing ingredients to room temperature, which ultimately, involve a coffee pot (switched on) with my butter and eggs nestled close by. Hence the reason why I used melted butter in this particular recipe! And as long as you mix the ricotta properly and don’t skimp out on the eggs, you’re good to go with this cake. Thank you, friend! xo

  11. says

    I’m really happy about the almond extract! Every time a recipe calls for almond paste I usually end up not making it because it’s one more thing I have to make from scratch as I can never find almond paste (and I made the mistake of thinking it was the same as almond butter the first time too). Looks so beautiful!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Megan,

      Oh good! I agree with you- almond paste can be hard to find. I’ve made it from scratch before, which is quite fast, but sometimes not realistic if you are lacking the time and ingredients. And that’s too funny about the almond butter ;) Thank you!

  12. says

    I love the colors and mood in these photos Emilie! And this cake looks like you nailed it. Texture, flavor, and all. It always feels so good to conquer those pesky recipes doesn’t it?! And to find short cuts – the best. Hope you’ve been enjoying some spring blooms and this yummy cake all week friend! Happy (almost) spring!

    • Emilie says

      Hello friend! Thank you! You are reminding me that some of my friends made this GF! They swapped out the regular four for buckwheat flour with nice results. Just thought you should know, lol.

      Hope you are enjoying your spring too! The big move! xoxo

    • Emilie says

      Hello May Ann!

      Yes! For Mother’s Day! What a great idea. I bet your boys will be able to manage it; the recipe is super easy ;) x

  13. says

    I am going to make this for Easter! It’s beautiful, Emilie! I LOVE your cookbook! So much that I gave you a little shout out on my blog today! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the tips and the inspiration!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Lynne,

      That’s wonderful. I hope you do! Thank you so much about the cookbook- I’m so pleased that you like it. And THANK YOU for supporting my work on your blog. I will definitely check it out. Very kind of you ;)

    • Emilie says

      Hello Ally,

      Great question. You can absolutely make your own almond meal by blitzing up whole almonds. For best results, try using a high powdered blender and process until the mixture looks like sawdust (do not over process; you’ll end up with almond butter). Alternatively, you can try this in the food processor, although I haven’t tested this myself. x

  14. says

    Hahahaha! “Who has the time to wait for room temperature anything?” I am dying laughing right now because I was upset that the cooking wine my bf was using was ROOM TEMP. Okay, why? I wanted something to sip on, while we made risotto. His response was, “I like to cook with room temp wine.” I shook my head. This, Emilie, sounds so delicious to me! And thank you, once again, for making something that seems so complicated, SO EASY to actually execute. Much love to you this week – wish me well for my sourdough beginnings! XOXOX!

    • Emilie says

      OK? I’m the most impatient person in the world when it comes to baking. And how ironic, considering I’m obsessed with sourdough. Speaking of, I saw your loaf on FB- looking good!

      Girl, I would’ve thrown an ice cube in that glass of wine and called it a day. And PS- he’s your fiancee now!!! Yay! xoxo

  15. says

    Absolutely stunning, Emilie. I love any sort of almond meal cake (totally don’t mind the ‘squidgy-ness’!) but my husband’s a bit like the family members who enjoy a lighter cake! Luckily he does like almond essence though ;) I’m definitely going to try your version. Thanks for the comprehensive kitchen notes, I’ve read everything thoroughly and I’m going to give this a go next week! Happy easter lovely, enjoy time with the family! xx

  16. says

    This cake is so gorgeous! Almond cakes are my favorite, so much so my wedding cake was a Spanish almond cake!!! I can only image how amazing the texture is with the ricotta!

  17. Cathy says

    Made this for Nonna and Nonno and it was a success. The next day with a cup of expresso was wonderful as well. Added a little limoncello to the cake, yummy

    • Emilie says

      Hello Cathy,

      That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for your feedback. I love hearing comments like this! The limoncello addition sounds perfect. x

  18. Justin Bomben says

    I’ve made this 4 times now and it is a crowd pleaser. I’ve made it using a mixer and by hand and it rises better for me when I used a mixer. Overall this is a phenomenal recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Rayan says

    Thank you for this great recipe. I made it for my family and friends last weekend. It was really enjoyed. I received many compliments regarding the cake. Since I don’t like lemon, I used two teaspoons of rose water instead of the lemon zest. I used a few tablespoons of honey and only 7/8 cup of sugar. I think that I will just follow the recipe next time. The honey turned the edges to a very dark color (not burned though). Again, thanks for this great recipe. I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

  20. EveT says

    I had some leftover ricotta to use up and didn’t want the extreme bother of making a cheesecake. So happy to find this 1-bowl recipe. I didn’t have any lemons so used orange zest. I’m definitely saving this recipe for future occasions!

  21. Heather Christine Ripley says

    I am baking this for my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day. I hope she likes it, I love the one bowl. I forgot to buy flaked almonds and only had slivered but I am guessing it won’t make much difference.

    I very much enjoyed looking at your other recipes and photos. As my husband says, food porn. Delish!

  22. Ariane says

    Delicious and easy. I used orange zest and also added one tablespoon of Cointreau. Added to my recipes. Thanks.

    • Emilie says

      Oh that sounds amazing! Orange would be PERFECT in this. Thanks for the tip and so glad you like the recipe. x

  23. Tania says

    Made this for my husband’s birthday cake -yum! Easy to convert to GF. No almond essence used vanilla instead. Happy bellies!

  24. Bel says

    I just found this recipe and I have to say that it tastes delicious. I’m not much of a baker, but this recipe was easy. I also really liked the flavor and fragrance of the lemon zest added to the cake. Thanks for a great recipe!

  25. Miri says

    Hi, I came across your ricotta cake recipe and since I had a cup of ricotta left from my lasagne rolls I decided to make it . I baked 40 minutes , the flavor was wonderful, it raised beautifully, the texture was a bit crumbly . I wished it was more moist . If I bake it only 35 minute would the cake be more moist ? I hate to mess with the ingredients and I am afraid to add more liquid . Maybe a little less almond meal ? Please advise , thanks

    • Emilie says

      Hi Miri! Great question :) The texture should not be crumbly, so it’s possible your oven is a bit hotter than mine (which is normal, all oven are different). However, it’s possible that your almond meal absorbs more liquid than mine (also normal). Try reducing the almond meal first, and see what the battle looks like before it goes into the oven. If it looks like the batter in my pictures, then perhaps your problem is solved. Then try reducing the oven temp, as needed. Hope this helps!

  26. Joce says

    This recipe is wonderful! It is so delicious! The outside is a little crusty and the inside is moist and fluffy…so lovely! Thank you!

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