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Lemon Ricotta Cake with Mascarpone Icing

4.70 from 13 community reviews

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A simple, Italian-homestyle lemon tea cake with creamy mascarpone icing.

An cake with creamy white icing with grated lemon zest on top.

My favorite cakes tend to be the plain, rustic ones — you could almost say homely — that are somehow simple and elegant at the same time, like this lemon ricotta cake.

The batter is enriched with ricotta cheese and olive oil instead of milk and butter, which results in a tender but crumbly texture, just moist enough without feeling too rich.

A pestle bowl full of grated lemon zest.

Lemon zest in cakes is a magical thing, and this batter is scented with three lemons worth of it.

If nothing else, just the step of grating lemons on a Microplane counts as some kind of therapy, IMO.

An iced lemon cake sliced into wedges.

It’s a rustic Italian-style treat, the perfect thing to snack on any time of the day, especially nice with tea or as a morning coffee cake.

You could leave the cake as is without the icing.

Or take the extra step and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar.

Either way, be sure to leave the option open to dress up this everyday cake up with the lightly sweetened creamy mascarpone icing.

It’s a small detail that transforms a humble recipe to something you’d want to share with friends or serve after dinner.

The light, lemony flavor of the cake goes perfectly with side of fresh berries or sliced stone fruit. Enjoy!

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Mascarpone Icing

Karen Tedesco
A plain and simple Italian-style ricotta cake with a creamy mascarpone icing.
Print Pin
4.70 from 13 community reviews
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine cake
Servings 8 servings


For the cake

  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, softened
  • 2 ⅓ cups (290 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces (225 g) whole milk ricotta cheese

For the icing

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter, softened
  • 4 ounces (125 g) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (30 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) heavy cream


  • Adjust oven rack to center and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Smear the butter over the bottom and up the sides of an 8 x 3 inch cake pan or springform pan – be thorough and make sure there are no bare spots. Sprinkle a little flour into the pan and rotate to coat sides and bottom; tap out excess.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest in a bowl.
  • In a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour in the olive oil and sugar. Mix on medium-high speed until emulsified.
  • Lower the speed and add the ricotta cheese. Stir in the flour mixture in two additions.
  • Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and level the top. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until puffed, golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle emerges clean.
  • Cool cake in the pan 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.
  • While the cake cools, blend the butter, mascarpone, powdered sugar, cream and salt in a small bowl until smooth.
  • Spread the icing over cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining lemon zest over the top.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • The frosted cake will keep in the refrigerator 1-2 days. Wrap the cake (without the icing) and keep at room temperature up to 3 days.


Serving: -1g | Calories: 541kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 388mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 469IU | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest
Recipe developer Karen Tedesco of the popular website Familystyle Food in her kitchen making a kale salad.

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

4.70 from 13 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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  1. I had a very strange thing happen with the topping. When I blended them together, the mixture separated, the liquid from the heavy cream pooled and I was left with a glorified butter. Help!

    1. Oh, sorry to hear that! Sounds like the mixture separated because it was overbeaten – cream literally turns into butter when it’s whipped too long.

  2. l.a. davenport says:

    Making this, this week…looking forward to trying this for the first time. I am making it in a bundt cake pan though instead of spring form. Looks delish ! 🙂

  3. I am curious what brand of olive oil you used for the cake? This looks delicious.
    Mascarpone cheese looks like a cloud. Perfect for a summer afternoon.

  4. I would have such a hard time going through those old books, like you said it’s too easy to get caught up looking through them all again to see what hidden gems might have been forgotten.

  5. This looks like one of those cakes that would be dangerous to have a round at midnight. Incredible!

  6. This cake sounds perfect for Easter. Lemon and ricotta go together beautifully. And about those cookbooks. I have been looking through mine, and it is terribly difficult to part with them. If one can avoid browsing, however, the job gets easier. But then, remorse sets in. I found myself opening boxes that I had earmarked for charity donation and removing some books… I mean there was a reason I bought them in the first pace, right?

  7. I am going to make this! It looks wonderful!

    1. I hope you like it. I’m in a cake mood for sure. I encourage fat slices for the kids so that it disappears before I end up eating the rest.

      1. I’ll need to make it when we have people over, or I will eat it all! I am almost always in a cake mood!

  8. Taina, the cake would be just perfect for Easter. Hope you can hold out until then!

  9. karen, this cake just *screams* easter to me! am bookmarking so i can make this for our easter table. doubly-hard to wait since i gave up sweets for lent and am salivating just looking at your gorgeous photography 🙂

    1. Joanna Smith says:

      Taste great, but the cake was dense

  10. Hooray for cake! I haven’t heard of drying out lemon zest before using it before–super intriguing. And that mascarpone topping looks SO GOOD.

    1. Thanks, Eileen. I love the dried lemon – I’ve been wanted to try it and it’s a great trick to do it in the microwave. Next up are tangerine and orange 🙂