6-ingredient Ricotta Lemon Loaf Cake

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When you need a freshly baked cake in a hurry, this very easy ricotta lemon cake doesn’t disappoint. It’s moist and dense, and yet light and tangy with a subtle but delicious lemon flavour. it’s lowish in sugar and contains olive oil, which complements the lemon flavour really well. The best part? You need just 6 main ingredients to make it!

A slice of ricotta lemon loaf cake on a plate - someone eating it with a fork

Easy cakes – the only way to go!

Easy cakes are one of my ‘accidental’ specialities. You seem to go wild for this 6-ingredient gooey Swedish chocolate cake, this mini banana bread and these epic Greek yoghurt blueberry muffins.

One category of cake that epitomises the easy cake is the humble loaf cake! (US = pound cake!)

I have a few loaf cake recipes on the site already, which I’ve listed at the end of this post. But let’s face it, there’s always room for one more. Especially when it’s as easy and delicious as this lemon ricotta cake!

This Italian orange ricotta cake is similar. If you love the chocolate-orange combo, you might like to try this as well.

Why you’ll love lemon ricotta loaf cake

  • You need only 6 main ingredients and it takes just 10 minutes to make the batter. 🙂
  • No tiresome creaming of butter and sugar. Just stir all the wet ingredients together, then add the flour!
  • It’s not too high in sugar – just 3/4 of a cup. A typical loaf cake contains at least a cup and sometimes more. So it’s a healthy lemon cake? Well, not bad… 😉
  • It contains ricotta and olive oil rather than butter. Nothing wrong with butter, but you get extra protein from the ricotta and cool antioxidants and other good things from the olive oil in this cake.
  • It stays moist and tasty for quite a few days. Bonus!

About the ingredients

ingredients to make a ricotta lemon loaf cake
The simplest lemon cake!
  1. ricotta cheese: 1.5 cups, so quite a lot!
  2. eggs: three large
  3. olive oil: I use half a cup of light olive oil. It complements the lemon flavour amazingly
  4. sugar: just 3/4 of a cup (not too bad)
  5. lemons: the juice of 1 lemon and the zest of 2
  6. self raising flour mixed with a bit of salt: 1.5 cups. If you don’t have self raising flour you can make your own using plain flour and baking powder.

You see, just 6 simple ingredients, and one of those is salt. It’s the simplest lemon cake imaginable!

How to make it

This is an incredibly quick and easy cake to make. Not only because it’s only got a few ingredients in it, but because there are just two main steps to making the batter.

It literally takes 5 to 10 minutes to do. The baking time is about the same as a banana bread – about 55 minutes in my oven. But once it’s in the oven you can put your feet up and enjoy the delicious smell as your cake bakes.

Step 1: Whisk together all the ‘wet’ ingredients. Start by whisking the eggs into the ricotta, then stir in the oil, and the lemon juice and zest.

Step 2: Fold in the flour and salt.

6 process shots showing how to make a ricotta lemon loaf cake

How long to bake

All that’s left to do now is to tip your batter into a loaf cake tin and bake! 50 minutes to an hour should do it. In my oven this cake turns out perfectly after 55 minutes, but check every 5 minutes after 45 minutes to be sure.

How to serve it

The beauty of this very easy lemon cake is that it’s moist and flavourful enough to serve it as it is. No fancy frostings or icings necessary!

It’s particularly delicious served warm. It goes wonderfully with a cup of tea or coffee, but you can also turn it into a dessert by adding a scoop of ice cream on the top.

My top tip for elevating this dessert into something special? Make some of this 5-minute raspberry sauce to drizzle over the top!

A ricotta lemon loaf cake sliced on a wooden cutting board - with some lemons

Lemony… or even more lemony?

This cake has a subtle lemony flavour. If you’d like to take the lemon taste up a notch, you can easily do this by adding the zest of a second lemon!

Variations

One of the reasons I like this cake so much is that it’s a very simple but very delicious cake. You can throw it together at the last minute and everyone will still ooh and ahh and think you’re the best baker ever!

There are however ways to potentially switch things up a little and make your lemon loaf even more delicious:

  • Make it a glazed lemon pound cake by mixing lemon juice into icing/powdered sugar. When you have a thin(ish) icing, drizzle it over the top of the cake when it’s cooled.
  • Fold some raspberries or blueberries into the cake batter before you pour it into the baking tin.
  • Swirl a bit of lemon curd lightly through the batter.
  • Stir in some white chocolate chips and/or some nuts such as pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias or chopped brazil nuts.
  • Use lime or orange juice and zest instead of lemon.

How long does it keep, and can you freeze it?

I find that this cake stays nice and moist and tasty for several days. Just keep it in an air tight container and enjoy it for days… if it lasts that long!

You can freeze it too – either whole or in separate slices. Simply wrap well in aluminium foil and/or cling wrap/plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Slices of a ricotta lemon loaf cake on a wooden cutting board

More delicious lemon recipes

More easy loaf cake recipes

Got some ricotta to use up? Try this 20-minute farfalle pasta with prosciutto recipe. Perfect for spring – or any time!

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A fork of ricotta lemon loaf cake being eaten from a slice on a pink patterned plate
4.80 from 5 votes

6-ingredient ricotta lemon loaf cake

This lemon ricotta loaf or pound cake is the perfect easy cake to make when you need something homemade in a hurry. It's very simple, made with just 6 ingredients, but it's super moist and subtly lemony. It's a real crowd pleaser!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 
 

  • cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup light olive oil, (or use another kind of oil – any works)
  • 2 medium lemons, juice of one lemon, zest of two lemons
  • ¾ cup white sugar, I've used ordinary white sugar, caster (super fine) sugar and raw organic sugar – all work
  • cups self raising flour, Or make your own: 1½ cups plain flour + 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Line a 9 or 10 x 4 inch loaf tin/pan with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 355F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir the eggs into the ricotta cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  • Add the oil, lemon juice and zest and sugar. Stir with the wooden spoon again until well combined.
  • Fold in the flour and salt until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
  • Tip the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin/pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean. (It takes 55 minutes in my oven, but check at 45 minutes and every 5 minutes after that)

Notes

How much lemon to use

I think this cake has a lovely subtle lemony flavour using the zest of just one lemon. But if you think you’re a super lemony kind of person, simply add the zest of another lemon. 

How long to bake for

This cake takes about the same length of time to bake as a banana bread. In my oven it takes 55 minutes, but it’s best to check your cake after 45 minutes and then again every 5 minutes. When a skewer comes out of the cake clean (or almost clean) your cake is ready. 

Adaptations you can try

  • Add raspberries, blueberries or a swirl of lemon curd before baking. 
  • Make a simple icing out of icing/powdered sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over the top.

How long it lasts and freezing instructions

The cake will last for a few days in an airtight container. Maybe even longer but it’s never lasted beyond this time in our house!
To freeze, either freeze whole or slice first and wrap each slice separately. Make sure you wrap tightly in plastic/cling wrap and/or aluminium foil. You can freeze for 3-6 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 391kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 67mg, Potassium: 135mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 307IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 117mg, Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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10 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Light, moist, and delicious. Very pleased. I drizzled a simple lemon glaze over the loaves. I’m going to tweak it a bit for next time:
    – It browned more than I would like before it fully cooked in the center. I’m going to try lowering the temperature to 325F and cooking it slightly longer next time.
    – I did a double batch and used 2 lemons total (because that’s what I had on hand). I think 3 lemons (zest and juice) would be perfect for 2 loaves.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Jeanne, and thank you so much for the feedback. It’s helpful to hear how much lemony flavor you prefer and how long it takes to cook in your oven. I love the idea of adding a simple lemon glaze. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Nice easy recipe to add to my many ricotta recipes. I’m able to get fresh ricotta daily at the local farmers market, so this a good recipe to put to use. The only thing I did differently was add 1 tsp of Lemon extract. For my taste, it was spot on. Thank you.

  3. 5 stars
    Simple and delicious. I had some ricotta cheese left over and didn’t want it to go to waste. I had the right amount left over to use in this recipe. I used gf flour, added salt and baking powder to make it self rising. I didn’t have any lemons on hand, so I used pure lemon extract and used 2/4 cup of truvia, instead of sugar. Baked it in my air fryer. I’m no cook or baker so I was nervous that my substitutions and cooking method would turn out to be a disaster. I was so wrong. This cake came out moist, zesty and just delicious. I will definitely make this again. Next time I’ll be sure to use fresh lemon juice and zest. The lemon extract was fine in a pinch, but fresh lemon will be even better. Split the battery into 2 loaves. One will go in the freezer, if not i may devour both😋. Happy I found your site. Thank you.

    1. Thank you SO much for the feedback, Tamra! I love my recipes to be adaptable, so it’s fantastic that your changes worked out so well. I’m especially happy that the recipe turned out well in your air fryer! Thanks again and happy new year!

  4. This cake is the best!!!! I would like to make a double batch and bake it in the @ 3″ x 4″ disposable
    aluminum pans to give as little gifts to friends. What do you think? How long should I bake them?

    1. I’m so glad you like it so much, Andrea! Mini loaves for gifts are a lovely idea! I’d try checking the loaves after about 18 to 20 minutes and go from there. You might like to try baking 1 by itself first as an experiment before cooking a whole batch? I’d love to hear how you get on!

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Helen,

    Another fantastic recipe and what a joy looking at the steps and ingredients list. I’m considering making this over the weekend and would like to adapt the recipe swirling in some lemon curd (around 4 tablespoons) and adding some raspberries (around 1/2 cup)- would you recommend any changes to the cooking time?

    1. Hello Deji! So happy you’re going to try this! I think you’ll be fine leaving the recipe exactly as it is if you swirl some lemon curd in and add raspberries. I’d love it if you let me know how you get on! 🙂