Limoncello Ricotta Almond Cake (and Gluten-free too!)

Ricotta Almond Cake | OurItalianTable.com

I love the quiet of mornings.  That magical time when everyone is still asleep.  That time when I can make a coffee, work out a few kinks on my beloved yoga mat and sit down in the solitude to write or catch up on the news around my ‘right brain’ activities – food, photography, travel, Italy.  It is the ying to my ‘left-brain’ activity yang – the stuff that fills my work days.  And since insomnia is my friend as of late, I am getting lots of morning time! Hopefully that translates into more blog posts and recipes here on Our Italian Table 🙂

I have always had a sweet spot for ricotta – whether slathered on toast, sweetened alongside grilled peaches or mixed into a steaming bowl of pasta. In Sicily, we used to visit friends in the shadow of Mount Etna and on the late night drive back to Taormina, we would stop at a tiny bakery that was open all night prepping their loaves and cakes for the next morning. The little man behind the counter would wrap a few warm loaves of bread in paper and then smiling,  pull out a small container of freshly made ricotta. We would hurry back to the car and dip the warm bread in the ricotta.  There are almost no words.  So simple yet so damn good.  But wait – sorry – food memory detour – back to the topic at hand.

So about this cake. THIS. CAKE.  Ricotta. Almonds. Limoncello. Boom.  One of my favorite combinations.  Light, tangy, smooth and simple. Double boom.

Truth be told, I made this cake twice.  I first made a version using semolina flour but didn’t quite like the texture of the cake.  So for this version, I swamped out the semolina flour with almond flour.  I like the crumb on this version much better.  And it is now gluten-free too (if you be sure to use gluten-free baking powder). This dessert is not overly sweet – great with that morning coffee or paired with some vanilla gelato to end the meal. And simple, simple, simple.  I unfortunately couldn’t take any photos showing the inside of the cake as I need to bring it to a party this eve 🙂 – trust me on this one.

So off you go – buona giornata, tutti. Thanks for sharing my morning coffee and don’t forget to enjoy the little things….like ricotta.

xoxo

Michele

Ricotta Almond Cake | OurItalianTable.com
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Limoncello Ricotta Almond Cake


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for the pan
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat ricotta (see note below) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 3 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 3 tablespoons limoncello
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Cook’s note: The moisture content of ricotta can vary greatly. If you ricotta is really watery, just let it drain in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl for a few hours in the fridge.  

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until incorporated. Mix in the ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until very light and creamy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add in the limoncello, almond flour and baking powder and beat to combine.  Clean the beaters thoroughly.
  4. In a separate clean chilled bowl, beat the egg whites with the mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture. (Don’t worry if white streaks remain – they will disappear once in the oven.)
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Smooth the top with a spatula or spoon. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until firm yet slightly springy to the touch.
  6. Allow to cool completely. (It will fall slightly.) Dust with the powdered sugar and serve!

Join the Conversation

  1. What can I use instead of limoncello?? Can I just use lemon juice?

    1. Michele Author says:

      Isabel – You absolutely can!! Enjoy, Michele

  2. Leine Williams says:

    I picked this cake to share with a dear 96 yr old friend from Austria. She exclaimed it “Marvelous! Absolutely Marvelous! Never have I tasted a cake so good as this — even in Austria,” Thank you for introducing me to the means to brighten her day while charming her taste buds.

    1. Michele Author says:

      Hi Leine – so excellent to hear!! Glad it was a hit….all the best, Michele

  3. I made this for the first time this evening for dinner with friends – I used Yuzu liquor instead of Limoncello and it was beautiful.

    Thank you, Michele!
    x






    1. Michele Author says:

      Fantastic to hear, Sally! And a buon anno to you! Michele

  4. Thank you for a really delicious recipe that I can serve at my holiday table.






    1. Michele Author says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Emily!

  5. When you say “a stick of butter”, are you referring to a pound of butter (which is our stick size in Canada) and should it be salted or unsalted? Thanks!

    1. Erica: Thanks for your question. This recipe is in US measurements (sorry, I wanted to go metric in 1974)! So that would make 1 stick of butter equal ½ cup = 4 ounces by volume = 113.4g. Use unsalted butter.

      Thanks. Joe

  6. Laura Hall-Schordje says:

    I don’t have any limoncello. How would this be with something like Amaretto instead?

    1. Michele Author says:

      I think Amaretto would be awesome in this recipe as well! xo Michele

  7. Brenda Young Roth says:

    Hello Michele! I was looking for a lemon recipe and found yours. Then continued to read your site. I am from Alpha, NJ. Living in Pittsburgh. Unbelievable to find that u r from Pburg. I graduated from PHS, 1975. This recipe was EXCELLENT. Something u would find in finer bakeries. I wanted to confirm the oven temp with u because I had to leave it in longer. 325 degrees? 40 min.? Delicious.

    1. Michele Author says:

      Wow Brenda – Small world indeed! My brother, Joey, graduated in 77 I believe. So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Could your springform pan have been a different size? Cooking time also might depend on how moist the ingredients were…but many times, I have to leave my ricotta cakes in longer than expected. So glad you found us!! xo Michele

  8. I’m trying to make it. Been in the oven an hour at 325 and still liquid in the middle. The oven is fine — it’s only a year old and we just made bread and a casserole in it this week. I don’t know what went wrong. The batter looked great.

    1. Leave it in until it firms up in the middle. There are lots of variables in baking. Oven’s real temp, how much liquid was in the ricotta, size of the eggs. Joe

  9. Thanks. It ended up taking about 1 hour 15 mins at 325F and it’s fine. I waited until it was firm and dark golden like the photo. The eggs were largish but usually that’s what one uses for cakes, I believe? The ricotta was quite dry. I wonder if the almond flour was too fine? I’ve never cooked with it before and wasn’t sure which type to get, not that there were many choices in my local grocery.

  10. I’ve made this a few times for parties and special occasions- always a huge hit! I serve it sometimes with a dollop of good vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of limoncello straight from the freezer. Love how easy this recipe is and the fact I can serve it friends who are gluten free, thank you!






    1. Michele Author says:

      So great to hear, Suzie! Thank you for taking the time to comment….xoxo Michele

  11. Fantastic! When I saw the photo, I raced to the store for all the ingredients.
    I only had a 10” springform, so I made the proper mathematical increases for all ingredients and mine came out perfect.
    I can’t thank you enough for posting this recipe, you made the weekend great!






    1. That’s wonderful!! We’re so happy it worked out for you! If you have a pic, post on Instagram with the #ouritaliantable tag. Thanks for the feedback! Joe and Michele

  12. Bronna Steiman says:

    Go Steelers, go Pens, go Pirates. Can you tell I lived in the Burgh for 50 years. Your recipe just went in the oven here in Alexandria VA where we now reside. Didn’t have limoncello, so I substituted Cointreau and grated caracara orange rind. The corona virus has kept me home because I am 80 and at risk. So every day I paint a watercolor or I bake. When this is over I will have gained 30 pounds and can open my own art gallery! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Michele Author says:

      Thanks for the smile! Let us know if you open that art gallery! We will be your first customers. Stay well! A presto!

  13. Dina Natalia Goncalves says:

    On a rainy day, under Covid-19 lockdown, in Johannesburg I tried this recipe today. Almonds and lemons are a few of my favourite things, so this cake is a great blend of these fine ingredients. Delicious autumn treat enjoyed by all. I will be making it again for my friends who follow gluten-free diets once we are free to visit. Thank you for sharing the treasure.

    1. Michele Author says:

      Awesome…glad you enjoyed! Stay safe…Michele

  14. Keyko Davidson says:

    When I saw this on Facebook – I knew I had to make it. My first time making anything gluten free… mine was a little soggy after cooling (but still a taste sensation)! If I could get the parchment paper off would that be a sign I didn’t bake it long enough? I will definitely make this again.






    1. Michele Author says:

      Hi Keyko! Glad you enjoyed! This darn recipe has been causing so much grief on the cooking time – lots of folks have commented on it even though it was tasty! I am about to make it again this week so I can double check the time 🙂 and correct…thanks for taking the time to comment! Ciao ciao! Michele

  15. Made this today for Mother’s Day and it is fantastic. The texture is mushy even I cooked it for one hour. I used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar..maybe that’s the difference..
    Thank you!

    1. Michele Author says:

      Hi Lisa – Might be the coconut sugar or possibly your ricotta. Moisture content can vary widely with ricotta so if really wet, important to let it drain first. Just made it last eve and let it cook for an hour as well. I adjusted the recipe as many have commented on it taking much longer. Thanks for commenting! xo Michele

  16. Keyko Davidson says:

    Michelle, Thank you for such a prompt response. I had it with my coffee this morning. After being I. The fridge overnight it firmed up and the taste is amazing. I will make it again!






    1. Michele Author says:

      Great to hear Keyko!Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  17. I made this recipe substituting all the sugar with erythritol and used part skim ricotta and it came out fabulous!….I also had to bake it for about 1.5 hrs until it was firm and browned enough. I’m going to try it again today replacing half the butter with yogurt….I’ll keep you posted !

    1. Michele Author says:

      Excellent to hear, Lauren! Glad the substitutions worked. Yes, the cooking time might vary depending on the moisture content of the ricotta ….thanks for taking the time to comment! Grazie, Michele

    2. Addendum: I made this recipe a second time substituting half the butter with nonfat plain Greek yogurt and erythritol instead of sugar……it came out great!…also it browned nicely in just 1 hr. It’s become a favorite!






    3. Michele Author says:

      Awesome to hear! Thank you for taking the time to post a follow-up! Grazie! Michele

  18. Ran into this recipe on FB and made it today. Like others, it took much longer for my cake to bake, about an hour and 15 min, and I increased the temp to 350 for the last 30 min. Came out delicious! Pretty moist and soft. What is the consistency of the cake? Moist, mushy, can’t see it dry, right? I had trouble transferring it to the cake plate as it broke in few places but I managed to “cover” the troubled parts. A true hit for my family! Thanks for sharing the recipe!






    1. Michele Author says:

      Grazie Marina! Glad it was a hit! xoxo Michele

  19. I have made this creation and it was amazing! In a few weeks I will be making it with monk
    fruit instead of sugar. I am imagining that it will also be delish as I have substituted monk fruit in all other desserts and no one can detect the substitution!






    1. That’s wonderful!! If you post a pic, tag us at @ouritaliantable & #ouritaliantable

      Thanks for the comment!!

  20. I made this last night. Delicious! I changed a few things to make it with less sugar and fat. As per a previous reviewer, I also used 1/4 plain greek yogurt and 1/4C (1/2 stick) butter. Also I used part skim ricotta because that is what I had on hand. And I used Erythritol sweetener instead of sugar (same quantity). It was plenty sweet.
    Baked for 1hr/15min and came out golden brown and cooked in the middle.
    I also added more zest that it called for just because I wanted to use the whole lemon
    Great recipe. Thank you!






    1. Michele Author says:

      Many thanks, Jenny, for the comment! Glad you enjoyed and thanks for leaving details about some great substitutions! -Grazie, Michele

  21. I have made this cake twice. Once with almond flour and the next time with 1/2 almond flour and 1/2 organic unbleached flour. They were both delicious, but I prefer the 1/2 and 1/2. I found the full almond flour to be a little dense for my taste and either way it is fabulous.






    1. Michele Author says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Helen! The combination sounds like a great idea as well ….glad it was fab! Grazie, Michele

  22. Hi I don’t eat cow dairy, so I made it twice with goat chèvre which is quite dry of course, The cake turned out great. (And that was with sugar cut fully in half as well!) I also added about 18 dark chocolate wafers which gave a nice contrast to the lemon.

    1. Michele Author says:

      ooooh yum on adding the wafers!!

  23. What of the best way to store this, in the fridge? Also couldn’t get it off the parchment paper. It started to break up so I just left it.






    1. Michele Author says:

      Yes – I do store in the fridge. Yes – this cake is moist so best to leave the parchment rather than try to remove. Grazie! Michele

  24. Do I need to line the pan with parchment paper? I saw this in instructions on another website…
    Thank You!

    1. Michele Author says:

      Parchment always helps to keep it from sticking to the bottom!

  25. This is a great recipe! I’ve made it twice, first time for Thanksgiving when I just kept my iPad open & followed the recipe. I made it last night (Christmas Eve) & worked from a copy that I’d printed….but didn’t notice that it had scaled up to 2x ! There was a serious overflow of that wonderful batter into the oven 🙁 So the cake doesn’t look as pretty but it still tastes great.






  26. Diane Palmintera says:

    I made 1.5 X the recipe for a dinner party (using 350 degrees, about 55 minutes). It was a hit. I added a good quality vanilla ice cream (as suggested) and some limoncello syrup over the ice cream from extra sweetness (recipe below). I will definitely make again. By the way, I too am from Pittsburgh originally and moved to N.VA many years ago, but still visit family there and cheer on the Steelers.
    Limoncello Syrup
    Ingredients
    • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup Limoncello liqueur
    • lemon zest from 1 average-size lemon
    Instructions
    1. Combine lemon juice and sugar in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl. Stir well and place in microwave on high power for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture is boiling and sugar is dissolved. Watch carefully to make sure mixture does not boil up over the top. You can also place ingredients in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar is dissolved.
    2. Add lemon zest and Limoncello and stir to combine. Cool, then pour into a bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator covered tightly.
    3. Drizzle over fresh fruit, yogurt, ice cream and desserts or stir a spoonful into a cup of tea.
    https://thecafesucrefarine.com/limoncello-syrup/#wprm-recipe-container-25057






    1. Michele Author says:

      Awesome idea!! And great to hear you are from the area. Thanks for the great suggestions and comment! Michele

  27. I made this cake today for my birthday and took to work.

    It was amazing and everyone was so impressed. I found the recipe so easy and served it with a dollop of cream.

    This is now one of my new favs cant wait to share again.

    1. Michele Author says:

      Grazie mille, Kim!! ❤️

  28. I make this regularly. For reasons of dietary restrictions, I half the sugar and sub goat chèvre for the ricotta. Sometimes I slide in a couple handfuls of dark chocolate wafers, by hand, after the batter is in the pan.
    The only thing that would make me happier would be if instead of making it,I could snap my fingers and someone would hand me a slice.






  29. Diane Palmintera says:

    I’ve made this cake twice now and love it. I do not like overly sweet desserts and this is just right. You can sweeten it by topping it with vanilla ice cream and a limoncello syrup. A simple, yet sophisticated taste.






  30. Diane G Perris says:

    I consider myself to be a pretty accomplished baker but this cake was a complete fail for me after 2 attempts. Though the flavor was good, it was complete mush on the inside even after baking for 75 minutes the second time at 365. I supposed I could try again and bake it at an even higher temp for even longer but I think I’ll pass.






  31. In the oven and looking great!!!! Had to put pine nuts on it because although I had almond flour on had did not have the shaved almonds. I can tell it’s going to be great.






    1. Michele Author says:

      Pine nuts sound like a winner for sure! Grazie!

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