Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Lemon, Ricotta and Olive Oil Loaf Cake.

Rooting through the fridge this morning in a desperate search for breakfast I came across two forgotten tubs of Ricotta cheese lurking in the back. It seems I'd bought them a while back and totally forgotten they were there... oops! They were about to expire (today! double oops!) So I had some quick thinking to do. I hate wasting food, especially delicious food like Ricotta. Since Mr. Grad started working I don't care to prepare lunch for just one person particularly so pasta was out, even though I have some wonderful recipes for Ricotta pasta it was just not a pasta day! But cake? It's always a cake day! You can make Ricotta cake right?

Google to the rescue! Turns out you can! Though none of them seemed to tickle my fancy, so I spent way too long searching for recipes. Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake looked just the thing! Only I decided to use Ricotta instead of yogurt and Olive Oil instead of vegetable oil. I got into using Olive Oil in cakes rather than vegetable oil after spending the summer with Mr. Grad's parents in Italy, yes Mr. Grad is Italian! So the whole Lemon, Ricotta, Olive Oil is also a delightfully Italian combination. They aren't big on butter or vegetable oil in Italy so I had to get creative! Carrot cake made with olive oil? delicious! Lemon Olive Oil cake? Awesome! And not just olive oil but Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I know many baker's balk at for its strong flavour, but done right it really adds another depth to the cake.

So Ina's recipe, I took a look at it and changed it. 200g of sugar is way too much, so I reduced it down to 150g for the first try. Ricotta instead of Yogurt and EVOO instead of Vegetable oil. I also added in a tsp of Lemon Extract to boost the flavour a bit, after all the Ricotta and EVOO don't need to overpower the Lemon. The result was such a moist and tangy cake, really really delicious! Mr Grad called it 'a taste of home' good praise indeed me thinks!

For the second cake (hey I did have TWO tubs!) I chucked in a handful of blueberries too because blueberries and lemon are just a divine combination. I also reduced the sugar further to 100g as the blueberries add their own sweetness. Too much sweetness can really kill a cake.

Lemon, Ricotta and Olive Oil Cake. serves 8-10

This makes such a wonderfully moist and flavourful cake. The lemon syrup adds a delicious tang the kind that makes your cheeks go all squeaky. I do think it's best to let it cool completely to firm up, its excellent the next day too.

For the cake:
  • 215g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 250g Ricotta
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • grated zest of 2 Lemons
  • 150g Caster Sugar - I use golden but white will work just fine.
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 tsp Lemon Extract
  • 120ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the lemon syrup:
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 30g Sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 10.5x20.5cm loaf tin.
  2. Before starting, empty the ricotta into a sieve just to drain of some of the water that's in the tub.
  3. Sift together the Flour, Baking Powder and salt into a bowl.
  4. In another bowl whisk together the Ricotta, Eggs, Lemon Zest, Sugar and the Vanilla and Lemon extracts until smooth.
  5. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until well combined and the batter is smooth.
  6. Now whisk in the oil on a slow speed until fully incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If it starts to get a a bit too brown on top cover with a sheet of foil. 
  9. Meanwhile prepare the syrup, place the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan and heat until clear, set aside to cool slightly.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  11. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer and then remove and place on a cooling rack that has been placed over a baking sheet.
  12. Slowly pour over the lemon syrup allowing it to soak into the holes and then allow to cool completely on the rack.

To make lemon and blueberry loaf cake, follow the instructions above but reduce the sugar to 100g and at the end fold in 150g of blueberries that have been tossed in 1 tbsp of flour.


  1. Those both look fabulous Shen! I am going to give them a go! Xx

    1. I'm sure you will like them Marie! Do let me know how they turn out though!