Torta di Ricotta


wedge of ricotta cake

The other day, we talked about how to make your own ricotta at home. It’s so simple and so good. (And will only take you about 20 minutes. Maybe not even.)

fresh ricotta

Homemade ricotta is delicious on its own, drizzled with good olive oil and a little sea salt—or dolloped on fresh pasta, or spread in silky layers in lasagna.

It also makes a fabulous addition to this traditional Italian cake, the Torta di Ricotta (a.k.a. Ricotta Cake). I found this recipe on Culinary Types by T.W. Barritt. He adapted it from The Silver Spoon, that bible-thick tome of traditional Italian recipes.

I made a few changes (light brown sugar to dark, increased the lemon zest, etc.), and was so, so happy with the results.

This cake was a cinch to throw together. It’d be perfect for Sunday brunch—or whenever you have unexpected guests drop by.

inside torta di ricottaThis cake is like a coffee cake, but better. It’s rich, but still manages to have a light crumb. It gets a subtle, molasses-tinged sweetness from dark brown sugar, and a burst of brightness from a generous amount of fresh lemon zest. (Orange zest would be great, too.)

ricotta cake close up

A sprinkling of dark brown sugar on the top right before you pop it into the oven gives the cake a slightly crackle-y, sugar-glazed crust.

ricotta cake crust

It’s delicious served with piping hot espresso.

What kind of cake pan should you use?

I made this in my 9 1/2-inch springform pan.

clasp on springform pan

Mr. Barritt used a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. If you don’t have a cake pan with a bottom that comes out, lightly grease your pan and line the bottom with parchment paper for easier cake removal.

If you make it in a smaller pan (say, if you only have an 8-inch cake pan at home), increase the cooking time a little to account for a thicker cake.

top of ricotta cakeTo the ovens!

Torta di Ricotta

Adapted from Culinary Types & The Silver Spoon

Butter for the pan
2 1/4 cups flour
4 eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar; extra for sprinkling
1 3/4 cups ricotta
zest from 1 lemon
5 Tbls. olive oil
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbls. baking powder

Yields 1 (9 1/2-inch) cake

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your pan with butter. Set it aside.

springform pan

Make the ricotta cake batter

Put the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat well.

whisking eggs

Toss in the brown sugar.

brown sugar and beaten eggs

Whisk together until frothy.

egg and sugar mixture with whisk

Toss in the ricotta and the lemon zest. (Admittedly, this is kind of icky looking. Trust me: Just keep going.)

lemon zest ricotta and sugar mixture

Add the olive oil and milk.

tablespoon of olive oil

pour the milk into the bowl

ingredients for ricotta cake

Whisk together to combine well.

wet ingredients for torta di ricotta

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

dry ingredients for ricotta cake

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

adding dry ingredients to wet

Stir until the batter just comes together.

stir the ricotta cake batter

It will be thick. (Like, really thick.)

ricotta cake batter

Bake the ricotta cake

Spoon the batter into your prepared pan.

batter for torta di ricotta

Spread the batter out and smooth the surface down with a spatula or wooden spoon.

smooth the batter with a spatula

Sprinkle the top generously with more dark brown sugar.

sprinkling brown sugar

cake sprinkled with brown sugar

Pop the pan into your preheated oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

hot torta di ricotta

Cool it in the pan for about 10 minutes.

fresh ricotta cake

Unmold it and finish cooling on a rack.

side of ricotta cake

Keeps well, tightly wrapped on the counter, for about 3 days.

cut cake


ricotta cake crumb

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Wonderful! I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of applications for Ricotta, so I’ll absolutely give this a try this weekend.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ve been looking for one of these for a long time. I’m used to making my own ricotta since always, and lately I have substituted every kind of spread for the ricotta spread that you mentioned with olive oil and salt (for breakfast) and seasoned for other occasions, and I definitely love it! I’ll try this recipe, I’m sure I’ll become a fan!

  3. This is so good. I like the fresh lemon taste to it, not to sweet but just sweet enough with the brown sugar topping. This is a keeper. I used 4 eggs but they were large ones so I had to add a little more flour because my batter wasn’t as thick as yours in the picture. I’m going to try again tonight with 3 large eggs and see how it works. Thank you so much, you saved the day at the ladies get together yesturday, they couldn’t believe I made it! I did give you the credit of course!! Chow, Linda

  4. I just made the Torta di Ricotta this morning for a holiday party tomorrow night. I made mine in a fluted tart pan with that removeable bottom. i was so scared it was going to leak through – it didn’t – however there was like some liquid dropping on my oven foil liner, not that experienced that i would know what it is. It turned out looking like yours – but my actual batter was not as thick as yours and i’m wondering if it’s because I used Bilazzo tub ricotta cheese which is very smooth and not thick like homemade ricotta would be. Do you think that’s the reason. Also, mine cooked for about about 55 minutes – Do you think it’s because i used the lower fluted tart pan? as opposed to the higher springform pan? I can’t wait to try it – i wish i could slice off a piece before anyone else does so i can make sure it’s good – LOL! also, do you think a nice fresh whipped cream w/a little amaretto would be a good accompaniment? thank you again!

  5. Molto saporita e grande istruzioni… grazie

    Just tasted the first bite and it is terrific. I had started to make my own ricotta a few months ago and had some at hand I need to use. I love your website and sort of stumbled on this recipe. It is FABULOUS. So simple and easy…and “molto saporita” Thank you not only for this recipe but your entire site. I often tell others who enjoy cooking..that they need to visit your site.

  6. I made this cake yesterday and it did not come out at all like the picture. I used store bought whole milk ricotta. I did not drain it. I followed all the other directions exactly. My cake too over an hour to bake and when I finally cut it, it was very gooey on the inside. Anyone have any suggestions of what went wrong? I’d like to try it one more time but would love to have much better results!

    • The same happened to me, except the inside was gummy not gooey. I used store bought ricotta, but it was very dry, so I followed the recipe exactly. I think the additional 3/4 cup milk is what made it gummy. If I were to try this recipe again, I would omit the milk.