There’s something about lemon in the summer. It’s like eating a piece of sunshine.

So, as much as I hate using my oven on these insanely hot days, I felt compelled to finally work out this lemon ricotta flavor I’ve been wanting to try for ages. The result is a beautiful lemon ricotta pound cake. The flavors are subtle, but you can ramp up the lemon to taste.

Also, I strongly dislike zest. Lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest and whatever else you might be tempted to zest. I mean, think about it, it’s just grated fruit peel with a fancy name (which, under normal circumstances, we throw away . . .). For those who are nodding along in agreement, this cake does not need zest. Hurray!

First, mix the butter, ricotta cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, and mix until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and the zest, if desired. Mix until just combined—do not overmix! Bake in a loaf pan at 350° F until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 50–60 minutes (but don’t worry if it takes longer).

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10–15 minutes, then gently turn it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool fully before slicing. Once it’s fully cooled, you can dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Lemon pairs beautifully with berries—strawberry, raspberry, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Serve with fresh berries and/or a scoop of berry ice cream or sorbet for the ultimate summer dessert.

We are currently in the annual three-week mourning period for the destruction of the two Holy Temples, which culminates with the fast day of Tisha B’Av. The last nine days, from the beginning of the month of Av until noon on the 10th of Av, we refrain from eating any kind of meat or chicken (with the exception of Shabbat). So this cake would be a lovely way to break the fast.


  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1½ cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2–3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • optional: zest of 1 lemon
  • optional: confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  1. Mix the sugar, butter and ricotta cheese until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest, if desired. Mix until just combined.
  4. Bake at 350° F in a loaf pan until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 50–60 minutes. Wait for cake to cool before slicing. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Yields: 12 slices

What are your favorite summer flavors?