Sicilian Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Cake Recipe #glutenfree

“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” 
~  Heather Wolf


Years ago I was travelling through a remote part of the Australian Outback. I stopped to refuel at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere, and when I went inside to pay for my fuel I was overwhelmed by the smell of coffee. Good coffee. Long before there were baristas on every corner of the globe.

I mentioned to the middle-aged man who took my money that the coffee smelled divine. ‘Do you want some?’ he asked me. ‘Mum’s just made a fresh pot.’

Of course I said yes, and soon I was sitting at a table under a tree behind the roadhouse, with the man, his wife, and his very elderly Italian mother. She had brewed up her coffee in a stovetop espresso machine, the first one I had ever seen. The coffee was served in tiny glasses. No milk, but there was sugar if it was wanted. To accompany the coffee the old woman produced half a cake on a covered plate, still glistening with cold from the refrigerator.

She cut me a wedge, scooped a small serve of vanilla ice-cream onto my plate and then poured a drizzle of syrup over my cake from a glass jar.

The cake was delicious. Moist and dense but not heavy, full of sweetness and lemon that paired beautifully with the robust black coffee. I was in heaven!

Neither the old woman nor the man’s wife could speak English, but I still managed to get the recipe for the cake, which I recorded on the back of a used envelope. I also had my first taste of limoncello, which this Italian family also made themselves.

I hope you enjoy the cake as much as I do! You can certainly eat it warm, straight from the oven, but I like it better cold. An added bonus is that it is gluten-free. It will keep for a week, refrigerated. It also freezes well.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs (or 4 small)
  • grated zest of 3 large lemons
  • 2 and 1/2 cups almond meal (I used ground whole organic almonds – the texture is still a little coarse, and the skins give a good flavour and texture)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you can cut back to 1/2 if you are not a fan of sweet cakes)
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • Optional but good – 2 tablespoons of limoncello

Syrup Ingredients

  • grated zest of one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  caster sugar


1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan forced. Grease and line base of a 20 cm deep round cake pan with baking paper.

2. Place ricotta, eggs, zest, almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. This only takes a minute or so. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with almonds. Bake for 55 minutes, or until cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, zest and extra sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Use a fine skewer to poke some holes in top of cake. Pour limoncello over cake and then half the hot syrup. Keep extra syrup aside for serving. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Leave cake to stand in tin until cold. (unless serving warm – obviously!)

Serve warm or cold, with vanilla ice-cream, natural yogurt and a drizzle of extra syrup. I am a big fan of coconut yoghurt with this cake. That’s what is in the pictures below.

My favourite cup measure gifted to me by my Nana!
Getting my ingredients together
When you grate your lemon zest, try not to get too much of the white pith, which has a bitter taste
The cake batter, thick and not over-beaten
The prepared cake mix, ready for the oven
The syrup, in all its lemony goodness
Hot cake, skewered and with syrup poured over
Cake is served! Afternoon tea on the veranda.
Sicilian Lemon, Almond Ricotta Cake. Let the eating begin!
Hi! I'm Nicole Cody. I am a writer, psychic, metaphysical teacher and organic farmer. I love to read, cook, walk on the beach, dance in the rain and grow things. Sometimes, to entertain my cows, I dance in my gumboots. Gumboot dancing is very under-rated.
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20 thoughts on “Sicilian Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Cake Recipe #glutenfree

  1. Hi Nicole,

    The backstory was so lovely! I will bake this after lunch today as I have plenty of all of the ingredients on hand. Thanks!

    Love to All

  2. Impossible to resist anything with lemons and almonds. Even have some limoncello which I bought just near Pompeii! Definitely on the baking list for this weekend. Thank you for sharing.

    1. How lovely to have limoncello from an adventure! Did you ever try the meloncello while you were there? It’s one of my favourites!

  3. What an amazingly delicious looking dessert. It’s times like these that I wish computers could emit scent. I love the generous amount of pictures and details in this post. Thanks for the recipe, it’ll definitely go into my recipe binder. Cheers!

  4. Damn, Nik, doubt I’ll give this a punt but, damn, it sounds soooo good. By the way I have a crystal thats been in my pocket traveling with me I need to get to you.

    1. Can I drop the crystal off? Weather is good so I’d ride down on a bike n drop it off and give you a big hug … n Ben a big kiss… n the dawg a big petting…

    2. That would be super fab! We’d love to see you. Shoot me an email and we’ll work something out. Much love to you and the family xx

    3. Nic, no email address for you I can find. You live somewhere around Byron Bay? I like long rides on 2 wheels… have grandpups going back to school Monday. Pretty much any day after that. Choose a good cafe not far off the main motorway and I’ll shout lunch? Smiles

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