Lemon Ricotta Spring Cake

I am rather obsessed with tea time cakes at the moment. Lately, I have been taking a deep dive into a Treasury of New Zealand Baking by Lauraine Jacobs. And it has really made me wonder why we, Americans, ever threw away tea time as an every day custom.

What a glorious notion much of the rest of the world enjoys. Different cultures and different customs but at mid afternoon, when most of us need a pick-me-up, many take a break while we drag on (or go through the coffee shop drive-thru).

I don’t know if we feel like tea is extravagant or maybe it seems more of an ordeal than a respite.

But there isn’t anything stopping us from pausing to have a treat and a comforting drink during the day. We could make a cake on a Sunday and eat it through out the week with a cup of tea, an iced coffee, an espresso. Turn the screens off and just enjoy. Or maybe a pastry or a cookie is more your taste.

Whatever the treat and choice of drink, you could do it. We are. I have told J, “Let’s make tea time a thing.”

It has felt extravagant and maybe even… naughty? As if we are indulging when we shouldn’t be.

But it has also just been simply lovely. And I can say for certain we didn’t regret eating this cake over the course of the week. Somedays a slice kept us going and sometimes it just made us smile.

I’ve been imagining this cake in my brain for awhile and am excited to share it with you- especially if you are partial to less-than-sweet cakes with no frosting.

Lemon, whipped cream and strawberries have been swirling around in my brain since spring sprung.

This cake is made with ricotta which makes it extra moist- it didn’t dry out after we ate it over a week! With lots of lemon zest it is flavorful and simple, and you could just leave it at that.

But I wanted something a little bit more. So In between the layers is strawberry compote and whipped cream.

This cake is just sweet enough that you can eat it anytime of the day. It is also simply a stunner to look at if I may so.

This cake will keep for about five days in the fridge and keeping it cold makes it easier to cut. If you don’t feel in the compote making mood use strawberry jam or any spread of your choice.

Lemon Ricotta Spring Cake

Makes one cake


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups ricotta

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

zest of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons of lemon juice


1/2 pound strawberries, stemmed, hulled and sliced

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 tablespoons water or orange juice

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in lemon zest and juice.
  5. Fold ricotta mixture into dry ingredients just until blended. Add butter and fold in until combined.
  6. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at 20 minutes before inverting.
  7. Allow cake to cool completely.

For the Compote

  1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and let simmer until thickened and strawberries begin to fall apart 5-10 minutes.
  3. Taste for sweetness and stir in more sugar if necessary.
  4. Cool the compote completely- will thicken further as it cools.
  5. Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

For the Whipped Cream

  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk until stiff peaks form. Keep cold.

For Cake Assembly

  1. Cut completely cool cake in half to make two even layers.
  2. On bottom layer, spread strawberry compote evenly leaving a half-inch border on the cake layer.
  3. Pipe whipped cream around half-inch border of cake layer. Spread remaining whipped cream over strawberry compote.
  4. Optional: slice extra strawberries and place decoratively around piped edge of whipped cream.
  5. Gently place top layer of cake on top of whipped cream.
  6. Dust top of cake with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
  7. Keep refrigerated for up to five days.