Ricotta. I love it. It has been part of my life since I was little. [Jump to Recipe]

Pausing to catch my breath. I had not realized how many ricotta recipes I have so far. Point is - you will now not be surprised when I say that there is often ricotta in my fridge - and that's how this cooking journey began. A "best before" date approaching, combined with a craving for a coffee time treat - and I began thinking and hunting for new ricotta ideas. I stumbled upon some interesting recipes, but many needed only a half cup of ricotta, and had much more to use. Turned the page on the newspaper - yes, I'm a techie living in a techie house, but we still get a newspaper you can touch. Turned the page and there it was - Ricotta Cake - asking for 3 cups of ricotta - bingo. But... it was a recipe from Ricardo.

Ricardo Larrivée is the much-loved Canadian / Quebec-er behind a growing food enterprise that includes TV, magazines and cookbooks. I used to watch his shows back in the early 2000's, and enjoyed his keynote at a conference - where he had groupies. Did that include me? No. Ricardo and I have had a few bad "kitchen dates".  I've already told you that in the kitchen I lean more towards following recipes versus improvising (see Cooking Backward. Forward.) So trust me when I say that I followed his recipes - three different recipes - and none turned out. We broke up after that. It took three cups of ricotta to bring us back together. (Going to say right now, that I broke some rules and made changes to the recipe - but the results are a keeper!) [He offers two versions of this recipe online - here and this one adds vanilla or almond extract.]

Here's the Recipe!

Getting Ready:

  • here's the first rule I broke - the recipe says to strain the ricotta for 12 hours. I didn't because of the ricotta brand I used. See Notes below for more details
  • bring the eggs to room temperature - you'll be separating them, and beating the whites separately
  • prepare an 8" springform baking pan - butter it all over and line the bottom with a parchment circle; (Check out the easy way to make a parchment circle. )
  • zest a lemon and juice half of it
  • preheat the oven to 325 F, with rack in middle position

3 cups (790 g) full fat ricotta cheese
3/4 cup (148) sugar
¼ cup (35 g) all-purpose flour

4 egg yolks
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 TB lemon juice

[Separate the eggs, if you have not already done so.]

Combine all these ingredients in the larger bowl that comes with your stand mixer. If you have a digital scale, you can weigh the first three - sometimes easier than measuring.

Use a lower speed at first, then medium and medium high. The mixture will at first look very granular and even dry, but will quickly become a fairly smooth and wet batter.

4 egg whites

1/4 (50 g) cup sugar

In a perfectly clean bowl, using perfectly clean beaters, beat the egg whiles on low speed until foamy. Increase the speed a bit as you gradually pour in the 1/4 cup sugar, then increase the speed and beat to stiff peaks.

With a spatula, gently fold the meringue into the ricotta mixture. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the centre of the cake reads 150 F. [Note - I baked mine for 40 minutes and the thermometer read 190 F! It was perfect. You know ovens vary - keep and eye on the bake - and obviously an internal temp of more than 150 F, as advised, turned out to be fine.]

Let the cake cool on a wire rack. Ricardo says "The cake will have a tendency to sag or sink in the middle." Mine only sagged a bit. He also advises to "cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight." - DID NOT DO THAT. It was cooled to room temp and was fabulous the day of - and the next day after being refrigerated overnight. When ready to serve, un-mould and dust with icing sugar.

Serving Suggestions:  Ricardo suggests serving it with his Limoncello Lemon Confit, but we all know you can go crazy with a cheesecake. Any fruit, sauce - even jam; drizzle with chocolate - need I go on? What did I do? This became my excuse for a treat I had read about long ago, and then found at my local Italian Deli - Amarena Fabbri - a chefs' favourite since 1905. Small dark Italian cherries grown in Modena are preserved in luscious syrup - and you just want to cry with quiet joy when you eat it. It's a slightly expensive, special treat you should have at least once in your life. 

Notes and Tips...

IMG_0378-ricotta-cake (2).JPG
  • Ricotta - no argument, there are some forms of ricotta - most often that sold in tubs, that are very wet and could do with sitting in a cheesecloth lined strainer, over a bowl, in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight. My favourite ricotta - award-winning Santa Lucia - does not seem to need that treatment. I was not prepared to do the 12 hour / overnight thing, but did make an effort to strain it for an hour before - the cheesecloth was barely damp. While Santa Lucia is wrapped in moist waxy paper, it seems to be more dry, and in this case was good to go!
  • Flour - though I used regular all-purpose flour, the recipe called for unbleached. Here's what you need to know. Unbleached has not been treated with a chemical to make it white, and is considered to have more nutrients, and is better for pastries. [Read More}
  • Sugar - expert bakers will insist that weighing ingredients is more accurate - no argument on that - except... they don't all agree on the "measures"; Ricardo equates 1 cup sugar to 210 g, but I stick to the America's Test Kitchen standard of 1 cup sugar = 198 g.
  • Lemon -  most citrus fruits, in readiness for the market, are covered with a light coating of wax. Best to clean off the wax before using the fruit in any way. When zesting - the fruit needs to be perfectly dry before going at it with the zester. Some ways to remove the wax. See also, tips on using a zester.
  • From blogger friends, here are a few more ricotta recipes that I am planning to try one day. Lemon Ricotta Cookies from She Loves Biscotti;  Ricotta Courgette Pasta from Sugar Love Spices; and then there's Marisa's Italian Kitchen... the list is too long - visit her site, search on ricotta, and behold - but don't forget to come back here (haha).
  • For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.

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