Sicilian Lemon Ricotta Cake

Fiori di Sicilia, meaning flowers of Sicily in Italian, is one of my favorite ingredients. I use it in biscotti, my Sicilian olive oil cake, and panettone bread pudding. It is a combination of bright citrus and warm vanilla flavors with an alluring floral aroma that adds a special subtle taste to many baked goods. I love the fresh fragrance of Fiori di Sicilia so much that I created my special Scent of Sicily

The ricotta, having a high moisture content, creates a cake that is moist with a light tender crumb. Typically, Italian cakes are slightly sweet with no icing, which is why many are considered “breakfast” cakes. For instance, my Italian apple cake, toasted almond cake or pear and almond torta (cake), can be enjoyed any time of day, but are particularly delightful with that first cup of coffee of the morning. Always a hit with out-of-town guests. Taking inspiration from the topping on the toasted almond cake, I decided to add a crunchy lemon glaze.


  • 1 1/2 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • 3 Eggs, separated
  • 1 Cup whole milk Ricotta 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia

For the Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 Cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons coarse sparkling sugar
  1. Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400-degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
  4. Scrape down the bowl add the egg yolks and beat until combined (1 minute). Add the ricotta, vanilla, Fiori di Sicilia and dry ingredients. Beat on low until combined.
  5. Using a separate bowl, beat the whites 1-2 minutes until very frothy (no need to reach soft peaks).
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the batter and pour in the egg whites. Mix on medium speed, scraping down the sides as needed, until the batter becomes smooth. Finish mixing by hand to make sure everything is incorporated. Transfer the thick batter to the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until deeply golden, then tent with foil and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The cake is done when it’s set, has pulled away from the sides of the pan slightly, and springs back when lightly pressed. Remove cake from oven, let cool 10 minutes.

To make the glaze:

  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice and sugars until no dry confectioners’ sugar remains.
  2. Spoon the glaze evenly over the top of the cake. Let the cake cool until the glaze is set, about 30 minutes. Serve it slightly warm or at room temperature.
  3. Store leftover lemon ricotta cake airtight at room temperature.

Lemon plus ricotta is a match made in heaven. You might also enjoy lemon ricotta cheesecake, Sicilian lemon ricotta cookies, lemon ricotta pancakes

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