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I’m really excited to share this Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake with you. It’s a twist on cheesecake, made primarily with almond meal.  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been experimenting with almond meal (sold as “Just Almond Meal” at Trader Joe’s).  

Not only do I love the flavor of almonds but it’s a healthy and delicious alternative to regular white flour in breads and cakes.  The bonus is that it’s also gluten free, for those who avoid gluten by need or choice. Trader Joe’s has convenient bags of ground almonds, ready to use in breads, desserts, or as breading on chicken or fish.

If you want to make your own almond meal, just grind raw whole almonds in your food processor until you achieve the consistency you like.

I'm really excited to share this Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake with you. It's a twist on cheesecake, made primarily with almond meal.  For the last couple of weeks, I've been experimenting with almond meal (sold as "Just Almond Meal" at Trader Joe's).   Not only do I love the flavor of almonds but it's a healthy and delicious alternative to regular white flour in breads and cakes.  The bonus is that it's also gluten free, for those who avoid gluten by need or choice. Trader Joe’s has convenient bags of ground almonds, ready to use in breads, desserts, or as breading on chicken or fish. If you want to make your own almond meal, just grind raw whole almonds in your food processor until you achieve the consistency you like.

I made some Almond Bread a few weeks ago and decided to make an almond-meal-based dessert next.  I first started playing around with cakes using only almond meal when I ran across this recipe for a Clementine Torte.

We have a clementine tree in our backyard and this time of year, we’re overrun by ripe, juicy clementines.  The Clementine Torte recipe is time consuming but I really liked the results. I started to experiment on my own and came up with a recipe that I fell in love with – a cake that combines the nutty richness of almonds, the sweetness of ricotta, and the zing of lemon.

The lemon zest adds so much to this cake – choose a fresh, fragrant lemon and make sure you get just the outer peel, avoiding the bitter white pith.  Use a microplane grater or use a citrus zester.  Use a citrus zester if you want to add the strips of lemon as a garnish (like in the photo).  Both tools are inexpensive and good to have in your kitchen drawer.

The texture and denseness reminds me more of a cheesecake and the way you check for doneness in the oven is kind of like a cheesecake also.  When baking, the cake will rise, puffing up, and then finally firming up in the center.  When the center has lost its “jiggle” and the edges have turned very golden, then the cake is done.  When you remove it from the oven, it will deflate.  Allow it to cool completely – don’t disturb it while it’s warm since it will literally fall apart.

For best flavor and texture, you can even leave it overnight in the fridge – similar to a cheesecake, it will be better the next day.  If you use a springform pan, you can un-mold it when it’s cool.  Otherwise, if you use a regular pan or dish as I usually do, the first piece is usually sacrificial but the other pieces will come out easily and cleanly.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Just Almond Meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 15-oz tub (2 cups) fresh ricotta (“Traditional Fresh Ricotta Cheese” at Trader Joe’s)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbsp)

Instructions    

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until smooth.
  5. Pour mixture into oiled 9-inch pan, deep pie dish, or springform pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes until the cake is completely puffed up, no longer “jiggly” in the center, and very golden on the edges.
  6. Cool cake completely and thoroughly chill in fridge before serving.  Cake remains very  moist and is even better the next day.  Serve with whipped cream or garnish with lemon zest.
  7. Serves 12

Prep time: 10 minutes
Hands off cooking time: 50-55 minutes

If you try this cake, I’d love to hear your review of it!