Light, creamy, and delightfully lemony, this lovely cake is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon tea. With only a handful of ingredients, it is straightforward to whip up and perfect for days when you need an indulgence that’s not ridiculously unhealthy. Because almond meal acts as a flour substitute, the cake is crumbly, moreish and completely gluten free! The stiffly beaten egg whites give the cake its height, and the ricotta ensures each bite is incredibly moist and smooth.
I didn’t quite have enough ricotta to make up the full 300 g required, so I substituted 50 g of 0% Chobani Greek Yoghurt and that worked beautifully. I’m sure you could even use a larger ratio of yoghurt to ricotta and still produce a delicious cake. I’ve adapted this recipe from one in the Donna Hay Winter June/July 2013 magazine. It was devoured with friends as we lounged in front of the ultimate timeless Christmas movie; Love Actually. Armed with fresh cake, cups of tea, juicy cherries and Hugh Grant’s dance moves, we couldn’t have been more content. How I love the holidays!
Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- 120 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or one vanilla bean split and scraped
- 200 g caster sugar
- 1/3 cup finely grated lemon zest
- 4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 240 g almond meal
- 300 g reduced fat ricotta cheese
- 40 g flaked almonds
- Icing sugar, to decorate
- Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F fan-forced. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20 cm round cake tin.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, vanilla, lemon zest and 100 g of the sugar for 10 minutes on high speed until pale and creamy. Every few minutes, scrape the mixture down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the egg yolks gradually, beating well on medium speed between each addition. On low speed, incorporate the lemon juice and almond meal. Use a spatula to fold in the ricotta cheese until just combined.
- In a separate large mixing bowl that has been thoroughly cleaned, use an electric whisk to whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 100 g caster sugar, whisking continuously on high speed, until very stiff peaks form. The eggs whites should easily hold their own weight.
- Very gently fold 1/3 of the eggs whites into the cake batter, then do the same with the remaining egg whites until just incorporated. Take care to not over-mix the batter. It will not rise significantly during the baking period, so at this point it should have enough volume from the eggs whites to fill the cake tin.
- Gently pour the batter into the tin, smooth the surface with a spatula, and decorate generously with the flaked almonds. Softly pat the almond flakes down so that they don’t fall off completely when you tip the cake out.
- Bake on the oven’s middle tray for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is firm to touch. If unsure, give the tin a gentle shake. The cake should not wobble or appear wet.
- Return the cake to the oven, and turn off the heat, allowing the cake to slowly cool for 15 minutes in the oven. It will sink a little in the middle, don’t worry about it!
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin. Once cooled, gently tip the cake out of the tin and dust generously with icing sugar. Use a sharp knife to slice and serve.
Store the cake covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.