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!
Easy cakes – the only way to go!
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
- ricotta cheese: 1.5 cups, so quite a lot!
- eggs: three large
- olive oil: I use half a cup of light olive oil. It complements the lemon flavour amazingly
- sugar: just 3/4 of a cup (not too bad)
- lemons: the juice of 1 lemon and the zest of 2
- 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.
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!
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!
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.
More delicious lemon recipes
- Another amazing 6-ingredient lemony recipe: ‘magic’ lemon pudding
- This lemon mascarpone cake makes a great ‘adult’ birthday cake!
- Use up any leftover ricotta cheese with this 20-minute lemon ricotta pasta
- This sticky blueberry lemon curd cake is more of a showstopping lemon cake for when you have guests to impress!
- Fan of salmon? You have to try this lemon butter salmon with potatoes and asparagus!
More easy loaf cake recipes
- Nutella swirl loaf cake with hazelnuts
- Pistachio, lime and courgette/zucchini cake
- Really easy mini banana bread (with air fryer version!)
Got some ricotta to use up? Try this 20-minute farfalle pasta with prosciutto recipe. Perfect for spring – or any time!
6-ingredient ricotta lemon loaf cake
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 1½ 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
- 1½ cups self raising flour Or make your own: 1½ cups plain flour + 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 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)
How much lemon to useI 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 forThis 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.