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Italian Orange Ricotta Cake

4.71 from 65 votes

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 A simple Italian-inspired almond cake batter baked with fresh orange-infused ricotta.

Italian Orange Ricotta Cake

The story of this orange-infused ricotta cake starts with my growing up in an Italian-American family.

I learned early on that every holiday and special occasion came with its own special food, to be enjoyed on that day and probably not to be tasted again until its time reappeared on the calendar.

Many of those foods happen to be sweet things (or maybe they’re what I loved best).

A picture of a cake with a slice being served, with ricotta baked into the top, with orange zest and powdered sugar on top.

There were St. Joseph’s day zeppole (fried dough filled with creamy custard), Christmas panettone (sweet yeast bread), torrone (nougat with nuts).

My very favorite were the sfogilatelle, flaky ricotta-filled pastries that sat on the table in a brown cardboard pastry box every Sunday after dinner.

A picture of a cake with ricotta baked into the top, with orange zest and powdered sugar on top.

I should also mention the traditional Neapolitan Easter pie, filled with an orange-scented rice pudding.

That pie could take days to make, chill and set and from what I recall seemed to weigh as much as the 20-pound sack of Russet potatoes my mother kept in the pantry. 

This recipe is inspired in part by each one of those sweets, only lightened up and simplified.

It reminds me especially of the lightly sweet, orange-scented ricotta filling in a sfogliatelle. 

When you bake this cake, the moist, almondy cake batter puffs up around the ricotta, creating sweet, creamy pockets in each slice.

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Italian Orange Ricotta Cake

Karen Tedesco
A moist, simply delicious orange ricotta cake baked in a tart pan, with an almond-flour cake batter and a creamy orange-infused ricotta filling.
Print Pin
4.71 from 65 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons melted butter for the baking pan
  • 1 cup (245 g) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) freshly grated orange zest, from 1 large orange, or 2 small
  • ½ cup (50 g) almond flour
  • 1 cup (140 ) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (120 g) 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
Makes: 8inch round

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the top, bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with the melted butter.
  • Whisk together the ricotta, honey and orange zest in a small bowl until combined.
  • Combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  • In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one; lower the mixer speed and stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread so that it meets the edges of the pan. Evenly top the outside edge and the middle of cake with tablespoon-sized scoops of the ricotta.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes. The cake should be golden and the batter around the ricotta lightly firm to the touch. Cool 10 minutes, then release the pan sides and cool the cake completely.
  • Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • The cake will keep well refrigerated up to 2 days.
Recipe updated 2018.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 247mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 46g
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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51 Comments

  1. Jessica Vance says:

    5 stars
    Can I get to the stage of putting the dollops of ricotta on top and instead of putting it in the oven, can I can store it overnight in the fridge and bake it the next day?? I made this during covid last year and it was a hit!!

    1. Hi Jessica – I haven’t tried, but it’s probably fine to do that. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. Christine says:

    5 stars
    One of the best cakes I ever made! Delicious.

  3. I’m so sorry for another question . . . 30 gm of almond flour does not equal 1/2 cup. In a previous comment you did mention that 1/2 cups AF is 50 gm? Is there a misprint in the recipe?

    1. The correct amount of almond flour is 1/2 cup, which should be 50 grams. Thanks for pointing out that error!

  4. Uh oh. Equipment needed says tart pan, recipe states springform pan. Two very different pans. Wanting to make this this morning but not sure I will hear back in time!

    1. Hi Lori – Thanks for your comment. You can use either an 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom or an 8-inch springform pan.

      1. Thank you so much for your immediate response! I just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have an overflow issue!

  5. Piccola Walter says:

    Hi!
    I am looking to make this cake but didn’t know how much ricotta I needed.

    Is it one cup into the batter and additional tablespoons of ricotta? Or 1 cup of ricotta in total?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Piccola – You need just the one cup of ricotta. It goes on top of the cake.

  6. Lisa Jones says:

    Can this orange ricotta cake be frozen? I’m having a family brunch on Sunday but would like to make this cake today / Thursday and freeze or refrigerate until Sunday . Directions state keeps in frig for 2 days.

    1. Hi Lisa – I don’t recommend freezing it as the ricotta will separate and become watery. If you keep covered in the refrigerator 3 days it should be fine! Bring it to room temp before serving.

      1. Thank you for your quick response. I made it and it turned out beautifully . I can hardly wait to serve it on Sunday . Thank you again .

  7. Bryan Gogal says:

    Hmmm… I envision this cake baked as a tart. I don’t see why a person couldn’t make a pasta frolla tart shell, bake it off, then put the filling in and bake it? (I see “pie” and “tart” and “cake” used interchangeably in the comments.) I imagine if a person just left out the cup of AP flour and the baking powder they’d have just a tart filling?

    1. Bryan – thanks for your comment. The texture of this is actually more like a cake and not a filling. It’s just baked in a tart pan.

  8. 4 stars
    I generally love this recipe. I think as is, it worked best with jam in the mornings. I prefer sweeter desserts so the last couple times I have made this, I added brown sugar & the juice of one lemon for extra acidity. I have made this with orange & lemon zest, and I have also added blueberries. I think you could also reduce the ricotta amount but it may be my pan/preference. Customizable & excellent recipe.

    1. Thanks for letting us know Jillian – I love that you made this cake just the way you like it.

  9. 5 stars
    I have made this cake twice now. Definitely a keeper. I did not have almond flour so just used regular flour. Also, I juiced the orange and added it to the batter. Delicious, unique recipe! And easy to make!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this cake tonight for guests and it was a hit. I baked it in a 6” springform. I had some ricotta mixture left over because of the smaller surface area. I added some orange marmalade to the ricotta mixture and made a little ‘sauce’ to accompany the cake. I will definitely be making this cake again. Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you loved this cake! I love how you made the extra ricotta into a sauce!!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this today. It was amazing. The only bad part is that it was too small, lol. If i want to bake it in a 9” or 10” springform, should i do a 1 1/2 x for 9” and double for 10”? This was incredibly delicious. All of my favorite ingredients, orange zest, ricotta and almond meal. I did use slivered almonds and ground them finely in the food processor. And i love that crust that a lot of people talked about in the reviews. This is definitely a keeper. My son said it reminded him of a cannoli filling with the pillowy ricotta on top. Thank you for this great recipe!

    1. Wow so glad you enjoyed the cake! It’s one of my absolute favorites. I understand the problem wanting more — I suggest doubling the recipe and making it in two 8-inch pans rather than using one larger size. You’ll have better success that way!

  12. Antonietta says:

    I am baking this cake now and it smells delicious. I followed the recipe exactly but after 35 min. it still wasn’t done in the middle. So I am baking it for another 20 min. I have a fairly new oven so I’m not sure if that was the issue. Any advice would be welcome. Thank you for the beautiful website and delicious recipes.

    1. Hi Antonietta – If your oven is fairly new, you might need to calibrate the temperature with oven thermometer. Let me know how it turned out! Thank you <3

  13. I made it exactly as called for and it was delicious. Nice soft crust and creamy ricotta filling. Would definitely recommend this recipe.

  14. I can’t wait to make this!
    Thank you for sharing.

  15. 5 stars
    I would love to try your recipe but my husband is highly allergic to tree nuts. Can I substitute AP flour in place of ground almond? Thank you.

    1. Hi Pat – yes, you can omit the almond flour and use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (total) instead.

  16. Effie Powell says:

    Just made this and popped it in the oven. I added about 1/8 tsp of almond extract, since this recipe reminded me of a ricotta almond cake I had in Italy once, and I wanted a bit more almond flavor. the batter tastes amazing! Not too sweet, but just right. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  17. Lindsay guevara says:

    Quick question
    Can u make this the night before?? And does it need to be refrigerated??

    Thanks

    1. Lindsay – yes, you can absolutely make it a day ahead. Keep in the fridge.

  18. Karen,

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I made the tart again this morning and I followed your advice—it turned out perfectly!! No sinking ricotta & stunningly beautiful :-))) I am looking forward to baking the Pistachio Crumbly Cake next…

    Again, thanks for your advice!

    1. Great! Thanks for letting me know, Jason. I’m glad it worked out! Share a photo next time – I’d love to see your creation.

  19. Karen,

    I just made this and it tastes great!! I used 75g of ground almonds instead of roasting/grounding 1/2 cup of almonds. My ricotta mixture didn’t stay on top but sank to the middle/lower third. I also used cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. So, I made a few substitutions/changes. Could you tell me if my changes caused the ricotta mixture to sink? Is 75g ground almonds the same as 1/2 cup roasted/ground? I thought the cake flour would lighten the mixture but maybe it had an adverse reaction with the rest of the ingredients? The flavor is great but I would like it to look as stunningly beautiful as yours!

    Keep up the good work & thank you in advance for your response!!

    1. Hi Jason, I’m glad to see your comment. Hmmm, my conversion table says that 1/2 cup almonds is equal to 50 grams ground almonds. 75 grams would be 25 grams more than what I use in the recipe by just 1/8 of a cup; the cake flour in place of all-purpose will yield a slightly more tender crumb. Did you use an 8-inch diameter cake pan? The ricotta should sink a tiny bit into the cake as it bakes. I can only guess that the little extra volume in cake batter (from the extra almonds) caused the cake to rise higher over the filling. Hope that helps!

  20. This recipe is delicious! I made it exactly as written, except I used lime zest since I made it for St. Patrick’s Day. We all loved it! Since it is not too sweet, it would be lovely for breakfast too.

  21. I am looking for a recipe for a crust that they use in a bakery when they make a italian ricotta pie. Does anyone have the bakery recipe of the ricotta pie

  22. i like the info i saw here,,very informative

  23. This recipe with the addition of the almond crust sounds amazing.
    I make a different version of an orange ricotta pie, but they are all delicious, with our without a crust.

    Wow Penny, you really seem to have an opinion on other people’s recipes….and it’s INA Garten, fyi.
    I will try your recipe Karen, it looks fab.

    Stacey

  24. Hello again,
    I like everything related to Italian kitchen, so, these kinds of recipes always get five stars from me. Nice work.

  25. Good recipe. Although I sometimes enjoy over-the-top sweet, my preference is for a more toned down sugar presence. And I seem to be using ricotta more and more these days – this is a great use for it. Thanks for this.

  26. Suggestion: use Almond Meal, widely available, especially at Trader Joe’s. I find this recipe for a simple ricotta pie to be overly complex; in fact, this recipe has increased the usual prep time from 20 minutes to 45 (not including the baking). Many Italian households used a simple pie pan. Springform makes the heel of the crust too thick and you’ll notice most people will leave it on their plate. I would never add baking powder to ground almonds — bakign powder should be added to flour and lightly stirred in, so that the almond oil does not attach to the bitter baking powder. I’m sure this is a delicious ricotta pie, after all the work, and it is probably a better one than Ima Garten’s which is quite bitter and has a 2 hour prep time (your have to boil whole tangerines & chop the cooled peel.) Sometimes we forget that the idea is to have fun in the kitchen, not be a stressed out slave to the stove in the kitchen.

    1. Penny,
      As a professional chef for over 20 years, I can appreciate your considerations. Any suggestions that will reduce prep time without sacrificing quality are always welcome, and to me, the fun and art of cooking has to do with making adjustments for a better outcome!
      I wonder how fresh goat ricotta would work with this recipe-

      Karen, thanks for an attractive website and new information!

    2. Penny, thanks for the tip about adding baking powder to flour before adding almond meal. I too will use a simple pie pan as I’ve also noticed how thick crust is left behind. I agree about the simplicity of this in an Italian household. It seems basic recipes have to be made complex, not sure why.

  27. Is there a flour I could use to make this GF? Need to deliver food to a family whose mom died tomorrow, thinking this would be perfect. One of the daughters if gluten intolerant, not celiac.

    1. Alanna – Not sure since I can’t test it out, but I would suggest subbing oat or rice flour. Spelt flour would be very good too, if she can tolerate that.

      1. Hi. Can I make this two days in advance and using a 9” spring form pan or a regular round 9” pan?

        1. Hi Ada – Yes, you can use a 9-inch springform pan (a cake pan will make it harder to serve). It will turn out a little flatter. It might take a few minutes less time to bake, so start checking for doneness at 20-25 minutes.

          1. Thank you for replying. I failed to mention in my previous comment regarding the 9” spring form pan, that it is one that I use for cheesecake. Is that fine?