I love this light, moist cake which combines some of the famous flavours of Sicily. Ornella is a cheesemaker from the hills outside Modica in southeastern Sicily. When she made it for me the ricotta was so fresh it was still warm.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (360 votes)


  • 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 250 g caster sugar 
  • 6 organic eggs, separated 
  • 250 g almonds, roasted then ground 
  • 75 g self-raising flour 
  • 1 pinch of salt finely grated 
  • zest of 5 organic lemons and juice of 4 organic lemons 
  • 400 g fresh ricotta

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4).

Butter a 25 cm round springform cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until very light and fluffy. With the motor running, add the egg yolks, one at a time, until all are incorporated.

Combine the ground almonds with the flour, salt and lemon zest. Fold into the batter.

Whisk the lemon juice with the ricotta until light and airy.

Fold into the cake batter.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them carefully into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer into the cake. It should come out clean when cooked through.

Remove the cake from the oven and turn it out onto a cake rack to cool. It will remain nice and moist for a few days. Traditionally this delicious dessert or afternoon tea cake is served with a glass of Marsala.


Recipe from Four Seasons by Manuela Darling-Gansser. Published by Hardie Grant Books.