Picture this: You’re sitting on a rustic wooden bench, where the warm breeze of Tuscany gently touches your hair as you’re glancing over the sun-kissed vineyards. Nona Maria just shared some stories from her childhood as she prepares your dessert – immediately, you immediately notice the sweet scent of lemons that were picked from her garden.
“Ah, la ricotta al limone,” she murmured with a nostalgic sigh, where fresh lemons mingle with the creamy richness of ricotta.
This day, you’re not just learning about a simple recipe but about a tale for your tastebuds where love meets simplicity – so you can taste the soul of Tuscany in every bite.
What You Need for Italian Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese
This is not just a simple lemon cheesecake but sooooo much more!
- 2 cups fresh ricotta Cheese (full-fat works best)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar (or adjust to taste)
- 2 Lemons (zest of both, juice of one)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- Butter for greasing the baking dish
- Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Fresh Berries for serving (optional)
No worries if you don’t have something on hand! Here are some alternatives:
- Ricotta Cheese – use cottage cheese as it has a similar texture, but make sure to drain any excess liquid and blend for a smoother texture. Alternatively, you can also use mascarpone or cream cheese, which may result in a denser and creamier texture.
- Eggs – use 1/4 silken tofu per one egg to get a creamy consistency; or use flaxseed or chia seed gel where you mix 1 tbsp of the seeds with 2.5 tbsp of water to create a gel
- Sugar – use honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
- Lemons – oranges, limes, or other citrus; you can also use lemon extract if you don’t have fresh ones
- Vanilla extract – almond extract, vanilla bean paste, or vanilla bean
How to Make Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Step 2: Prepare a baking pan and the sides of the pan with butter, ideally a circular one that is 8 inches in diameter – if you have a cheesecake pan, use that.
Step 3: Beat the eggs in a large bowl until they are fluffy and light, then you can mix the ricotta cheese into the eggs until everything is nicely mixed – if you have a food processor, use that on low speed.
Step 4: Sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla essence, and a dash of salt should be added and stirred together, then combine all ingredients well until you have a smooth texture.
Step 5: Next, pour the finished cheesecake batter into the prepared baking dish.
Step 6: Then place the dish in the oven on the middle oven rack and bake it for about 40-45 minutes cooking time, or until the center is set and the top is lightly golden – it should still have a slight jiggle in the center.
Step 7: Take it out of the oven and let it cool for at least twenty minutes.
Depending on your preferences, it can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold after being stored in the fridge. Just ensure that before serving, dust it with powdered sugar and maybe top it off with some fresh berries.
Expert Tips For This Baked Ricotta Recipe
Here are some tips for the best results that will make it taste even better – or, make your life just easier.
- When it comes to the ricotta, make sure you opt for high-quality, full-fat ricotta cheese. This ensures a creamy texture and rich taste. You may also want to let the ricotta drain in a strainer for an hour if it has a lot of moisture content before using it.
- When zesting lemons, only take off the outermost layer where all the aromatic oils are. Avoid the white pith underneath, which can be bitter.
- When you bake it, ensure that you won’t overbake it because that can make it dry and grainy. The ricotta should still have a slight jiggle in the center when it’s done – If the edges are set, and the center has a slight wobble, it’s ready.
Tip: If you want an extra creamy texture, you can bake the ricotta using a water bath or “bain-marie.” Place the baking dish inside a larger dish and fill the larger dish with hot water halfway up the sides of the cake dish. This provides even and gentle heat during baking.
What to Pair Baked Ricotta Cheese With?
Baked lemon ricotta cheesecake is versatile and pairs well with a variety of other delicacies.
Here are some suggestions that could enhance it for date nights, family gatherings for the holiday season, or just because you feel like it:
- Fresh Fruit – Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, slices of fresh figs, kiwi, or ripe peaches. You can even consider making a citrus salad with oranges, grapefruits, and blood oranges when serving it with the Ricotta Cheese.
- Drizzles & Syrups – Honey, especially flavored ones like lavender or truffle honey, can give it a twist. If you prefer to keep it lowkey, use maple syrup for a sweet touch.
- Nuts & Seeds – Toasted almonds, pistachios, or hazelnuts for an extra crunch. Alternatively, you can also use chia seeds or toasted coconut flakes for texture and flavor.
- Chocolate – if you’re anything like me, you LOVE chocolate, so consider drizzling this cheesecake with melted dark or white chocolate.
- Wine & Drinks – Pair with a sweet dessert wine like Moscato, sparkling Prosecco, or even chilled Limoncello if you enjoy a boozy touch. For non-alcoholic drinks, pick iced teas with peach or berry flavors.
- Ice cream and Sorbet – the crown on top of lemon ricotta cake is ice cream (or gelato), especially a scoop of vanilla or berry, or even lemon sorbet.
Tip: adding cinnamon or cardamom can add warmth to it, while nutmeg can give it a subtle, spicy touch.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Have questions about this great recipe? Let me answer them!
What type of ricotta cheese should I use?
For a smoother and creamier texture, use full-fat ricotta. However, if the ricotta has a lot of moisture, let it drain for an hour in a sieve before using.
How do I store leftover baked ricotta?
You may keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days if you put them in an airtight container.
Why is my baked ricotta grainy?
Ricotta can get gritty and grainy if overbaked – so, make sure you don’t overbake it.
How can I tell when the baked ricotta is done?
When gently shaking the dish, it should have a tiny jiggle in the middle but be set on the edges.
Can I freeze baked ricotta?
It can be frozen, however thawing may cause a change in texture, making it less creamy and maybe more gritty or grainy. Usually, it’s at its peak when served either chilled or fresh – right away.