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Lemon or Orange Ricotta Cake

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh 

Makes 8 portions

Adapted from a recipe by Deborah Mele of ItalianFoodForever

This is a very straightforward recipe with more ricotta and less flour than other recipes.  I used King Author Gluten-Free Flour and zest of two oranges, but it would be even better with zest of three oranges. I used Galbani whole milk ricotta, which is very firm and can be sliced.  If you have a very wet ricotta, let it drain in a sieve for 20 minutes.  The cake is good on its own, but I also served it with an orange maple butter sauce as well as sliced cara cara oranges in simple syrup with orange liqueur.  My husband thought the texture was similar to a dense cheesecake, while I thought it was a cross between dense cheesecake and a pound cake.


  • 1½ sticks (6 oz., 168 g.) soft butter. I haven’t tried using Earth Balance or coconut oil.
  • ¾ cup (6 oz., 168 g.) sugar
  • Zest from 3 large oranges. If using lemons, 2 lemons gave nice lemon background, but 3 lemons might be too tangy.
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (8 oz., 224 g.) full-fat or whole milk ricotta
  • ½ cup (2½ oz.) King Author Gluten-Free Flour (a standard rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch blend). I also tried it with ½ cup almond flour and it was thinner, wetter, more custardy and more quiche-like. I prefer gluten-free flour version.
  • 2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

No xanthan gum needed.


Preheat oven to 325°.

Lightly grease a 9” springform pan. My cake was ¾ inch deep when cooked. My springform pan has a glass bottom that the cake can be served from.

In a totally clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.

In separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and creamy.

Add zest, extract, egg yolks, salt and ricotta cheese to butter mix and beat until smooth.

Mix together flour and baking powder and beat into butter mix just until combined.

Gently fold egg whites into butter mix, trying not to deflate mix.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and place on cookie sheet, as some springform pans don’t have a good seal.

Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until a cake tester stuck into center of cake comes out clean. It should have a nice light golden color on top. Allow to cool.

Use a sharp knife to cut. Serve with berries, orange curd, lemon curd or the sauces below.  Stays fresh for several days covered on the counter and stiffens with refrigeration.

Orange Sauce 1:

Melt equal quantities of butter, real maple syrup and orange juice concentrate and stir until combined.  I use 2 Tbsp. of each.

Orange Sauce 2:

Dissolve ¼ cup sugar in ¼ cup water and bring to a boil.  After zesting oranges for the cake, remove peel from oranges, slice and put into sugar syrup. I add 1-2 Tbsp. orange liqueur, brandy and rum to the sugar syrup. Leave oranges to sit in syrup so they become juicier and sweeter. Serve cake slices with some orange slices and syrup.

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