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Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

Ingredient #5 is different from what we would normally use in a cake like this.

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While we thought we’d found our go-to lemon loaf, we couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to keep tinkering until we made it absolutely perfect…and thank goodness we did! We really can’t get enough of lemon desserts, so it’s not a shocker that we’d want to pack in as much flavor as possible in this lemon pound cake; lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract. Not only is it an über lemony cake, but it’s also topped off with a lemon simple syrup that helps add flavor and keeps everything moist, so it never dries out.

It can’t be beat! While some recipes call for buttermilk, sour cream or Greek yogurt in order to keep a cake from getting dry, we chose to go with ricotta cheese as a way to switch things up. We find it’s a little lighter than the previous options, but it adds a richness that the other three don’t quite have – it’s so good, you have to try it!

The other element you definitely don’t want to skip is the lemon simple syrup that gets drizzled on top. A classic simple syrup is two parts water to one part sugar, but we swapped in lemon juice instead of water to add more lemon flavor with just the right touch of sweetness. Don’t think that this is an icing or glaze though. The simple syrup isn’t something that sits on the surface and hardens into a delicious sort of crust, this seeps down into the pound cake and just bumps up the flavor while still being subtle enough to not detract from the cake itself.

Plus, it’s a trick you can use for just about any cake you whip up if you want to make sure it’s never try and has plenty of flavor. Whether it’s a classic vanilla cake (where you’d use regular simple syrup without any lemon), or a more involved fruit cake (where you could add a berry reduction of sorts to the syrup), it’s helpful to have this in your back pocket for anytime you’re baking. And trust us, this cake is sinfully good and perfect any time of year!

Yield(s): Serves 8-10

1 hour 20 minutes

Rated 4.5 out of 5
Rated by 77 reviewers
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  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Lemon Simple Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325º F and lightly grease a 9x5-inch baking dish.
  2. Whisk together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined, then set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, lemon juice and zest, and also set aside until ready to use.
  4. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, or until fluffy and lightened in color.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time, then mix in lemon and vanilla extracts.
  6. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the ricotta mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
  7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and place in oven.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean, but with a couple moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and let cool.
  9. Begin simple syrup while cake is in the oven by whisking together lemon juice and sugar in a small or medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  10. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, then reduce heat and gently boil for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
  11. Once cooled slightly, pour or brush over cake, making sure to cover all sides.
  12. Optional: pierce cake all over with a fork for better absorption.
  13. Let cake sit for 1-2 hours, or until syrup is fully absorbed, then top with powdered sugar, if desired, slice serve and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from Saving Room For Dessert