Louisa's Cake Recipe on Food52 (2024)


by: Jennifer Wagner



130 Ratings

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6

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Author Notes

Louisa is a family friend, gardener and chef from Castellina in Chianti, Italy, where we gather several times a year. She cooks everything from memory and threw this together one night last spring. When we pressed her for the recipe she hastily rattled some ingredients off and we scrambled to write it all down on a napkin. Along with my husband and children, we've tested this cake about 6 times, and friends are constantly asking for the recipe. —SML Office —Jennifer Wagner

Test Kitchen Notes

Only a true Italian nonna could produce something this ethereal with such a simple list of ingredients. SML Office got the recipe for this cake from a family friend in Chianti (Louisa), and to us it's the epitome of a classic Italian dessert. It's airy and light, but not without integrity: ricotta, eggs and plenty of butter give it richness, grated apple lends heft, and lemon zest rescues it from being at all bland. The cake is gently sweetened, and thus equally suited to breakfast and dessert. We think it would be great with something tangy and fresh, like a fruit compote -- and rhubarb season is coming up! - A&M —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved
  • Your Best Recipe with Fresh Ricotta Contest Winner

What You'll Need

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  • 9 tablespoonsunsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cupplus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cupsall-purpose flour
  • 1 pinchsalt
  • 1 cupfresh ricotta
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoonbaking powder
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated (should yield about 1 cup)
  • Confectioners' sugar for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 400° F. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. On the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Slowly add the flour, salt, ricotta, lemon zest, baking powder, and apple.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the sides start to pull away from the pan.
  6. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely on the rack. Sift confectioners' sugar over the top or serve with your favorite seasonal fruit.


  • Cake
  • Italian
  • Fruit
  • Cheese
  • Summer
  • Memorial Day
  • Father's Day
  • Mother's Day
  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving
  • Fourth of July
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  • Your Best Recipe with Fresh Ricotta

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug

  • Nancy Caravan

  • Judi Lowell-Riley

  • Regine

  • Amanda Trayes

Recipe by: Jennifer Wagner

Jennifer Wagner is a Creative Director and Graphic Designer with extensive experience in design and art direction for Brand Positioning, Identities, Advertising, and Editorial Design. Her love of storytelling, photography and illustration is intense and being on set or in the studio is where she feels most at home. She lives in Garrison, New York and working on a food + garden project TBA in Newburgh, New York.

Popular on Food52

494 Reviews

poppy12 February 29, 2024

You can try all you want to play dordle, but the information provided is current and useful. Very engrossing!

Kristina M. January 12, 2024

Fantastic! Made these into blueberry “muffins”, 325’F for 30 min. ( I only had 2 eggs, I will try with 3 soon)

carol September 26, 2023

I have made this cake so many times I feel like I can make it from memory as the Italian Nonna, Louisa does! I make it for friends that come over to my house, for meals that I take to friends in need; everyone loves it! I lost my recipe recently, but thankfully I remembered where I originally found this wonderful recipe...one of my favorite websites....Food 52!

woodenmask July 16, 2023

Sugar=218 grams
AP Flour=150 grams
Ricotta=247 grams

Rachel P. June 25, 2023

I continue to love this recipe after many years of making this cake. It always receives rave reviews and never disappoints! Served it this past Friday and Saturday with fresh strawberry sauce and whipped cream.

Smaug June 19, 2023

This was quite good- the flavor really does seem to be greater than the sum of the parts. Almost made it all the way without altering the recipe; at the last minute broke down and added some nutmeg (and I'd do it again). I skipped the confectioner's sugar. Also, I'd recommend sifting together the flour and baking powder before adding. It's pretty sweet, but not cloying. Easy and, even with the current wildly inflated prices on sugar, flour and ricotta, inexpensive. I made 1/2 the recipe in a 6 3/4" springform.

Nancy C. February 22, 2023

Good and easy. I've made it a few times for guests, served with berries and/or whipped cream, and the leftovers freeze nicely. But I find the flavor to be a bit too "egg-y." Maybe the fact that I cut down a little on sugar affects the overall flavor that would otherwise be covered up by sweetness.

acroft September 8, 2022

I make this all the time! Perfect simple cake and makes a good snack

P.w.p August 28, 2022

I’ve made this 2x before and cut the sugar as I usually find most desserts too sweet and I loved my family loved it. This time, however, did the same and I found this excessively sweet somehow. Didn’t have lemon so I used orange zest as it was what was available. And, my batter was too wet (toothpick came out clean) n the outside almost burnt. I even covered the top w foil for the last 15”. It almost took 39” but apparently wasn’t cooked enough still. It is a different oven so I’m wondering if this was 1 of the issues.

Patrizia October 18, 2022

stesso identico problema, l'ho fatta più volte con la speranza di riuscire cosi' come si vede dal video ma niente, troppo alto forse la temperatura del forno e poi bisognerebbe sapere se è statico o ventilato o anche dove posizionare la teglia...molto buona di sapore, ho messo metà zucchero rispetto alla ricetta e comunque sempre dolce è, impasto troppo fluido, forse necessita di più farina oppure è diversa la qualità della ricotta. La voglio rifare ancora ma personalizzarla, aggiustando le dosi degli ingredienti.

Judi L. May 18, 2022

Perfect cake

Jami March 3, 2022

This is a stunning cake. Moist, flavorful, comforting, and just the right amount of sweetness. Brava!

Dani January 1, 2022

This cake was delicious!Honestly, so simple and not too sweet. My kind of cake. You can taste the hint of apple and lemon. Nice, light and fresh. In the summer, I will top it with some summer fruit to make it perfect. Thank you for a lovely cake recipe.

Regine December 14, 2021

Excellent cake. A Delicious cake in terms of texture (light and moist), flavor (buttery/lemony in a subtle way), and simplicity (easy to make). I used a 9 inch springform pan, and based on some of the reviews, I chose to lower the oven temperature from 400F to 350F. It took exactly 40 minutes for the cake to be ready. A long skewer inserted in the middle of the cake came out clean. I see some reduced the sugar but I really don't see the need as the sweetness of this cake is perfect. I plan on making this cake again and again. I also added 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Others can choose to add other flavorings such as orange zest, almond extract, etc. This cake is perfect. I give it 5 stars. Oh...I forgot to say something important. I oftentime use the reverse creaming method when I make a cake so I used my food processor to mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and I then added the soft butter. Once the flour and butter mixture becomes sandy, you add the eggs, ricotta, vanilla, and lemon zest. Last, I added the grated apple and I mixed it into the batter with a spatula rather than letting the food processor run.

ann H. November 13, 2021

This recipe has become our go-to breakfast cake recipe.
I add more lemon zest and squeeze a little lemon juice on my grated apple but otherwise follow the recipe precisely.
Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe.

Estelle C. July 1, 2021

We love, love, love this cake!

How far ahead can this delicious cake be prepared and still be yummy? Can this cake be frozen for a few days?

Many thanks-

Amanda T. June 3, 2021

Phenomenal. A total keeper. Thank you!

Terry April 28, 2021

It will be great!! I often sub almond for the lemon. Delicious!

tracy R. April 27, 2021

So I have made this cake and it wonderful; however, I was going to make the Double Vanilla Cake here at Food52 for my birthday tomorrow as it is my FAVORITE vanilla cake.....however, I would need to go to the store and ugh, not really in the mood. Any thoughts of how this cake might work if I replace the lemon zest with vanilla extract/paste for a more vanilla forward cake? Would it work with the apple and ricotta? Any input would be appreciated.

ChefMommie April 3, 2021

Delicious, fresh and not difficult! The lemon zest was the star here. You woulda thunk I put the whole lemon in there, it smells lemony and tastes lemony, but not in an overpowering way, just a fresh way. I was surprised the apple was undetectable. No apple flavor at all, I always have sweet apples in the fridge, either Fuji or Pink Ladies. Following in the footsteps of other reviewers, I did not peel the apple, but grated the skin along with the flesh without any issues in the final product. This was my first go at baking with a springform pan. I've had my 9 inch pan for years, still had the tags on it and all. I decided the glowing reviews for this recipe called for that pans maiden voyage. Like other reviewers, mine took longer than 30 minutes to bake. When it was a golden color, you could see it was still uncooked in the center. When the cake was a beautiful brown color, I did use a knife to go into the middle to make sure it was done. I was serving guests and didn't want to present a raw cake, and the powdered sugar on top hid my detective work ;) We did our best to let it cool completely before serving, but we're rule breakers. It was so delicious warm. A+ recipe!

Smaug January 13, 2024

The properties of ovens varyquite a bit, of course, but also a 10" springform is almost 1 1/4 times the size of a 9", enough to affect the baking time quite a bit.

Pam S. March 30, 2021

This recipe has glowing reviews already, but I'll add my own. In short, this is the best "plain" cake I've ever made. I've had to force myself not to eat the entire cake!

As others have commented, I extended the baking time to 38 minutes - the middle was still jiggly at 25 minutes; and I will decrease the sugar next time.

Louisa's Cake Recipe on Food52 (2024)


How long to bake a 13x9 cake? ›

For a 9×13 inch sheet cake, bake for 36-40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. With either size, make sure you rotate the cake pan once or twice during bake time. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack.

How long do you bake a cake? ›

Baking Times for Different Sized Cake Pans
Cake Pan SizeApproximate Baking Times
Two 8 x 8 x 2 or 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pans25 to 35 minutes
12 cup Bundt Cake or Angel Food cake pan35 to one hour
10-inch cheesecake made in spring form pan35 to one hour
13- x 9- x 2-inch - 1/4 sheet cake30 to 35 minutes
5 more rows
Feb 13, 2024

What temperature to bake a 9x13 cake? ›

Best of all, your kitchen should smell heavenly when the cake is done baking. For the Classic Birthday Cake made in a 9” x 13” pan, bake it for 45 to 48 minutes at 325°F until it tests done.

How much batter do I need for a 9x13 cake pan? ›

9×13 inch pan holds 14-16 cups of batter, essentially the same as 2 9×2-inch round pans.

What is the best temperature to bake cake? ›

Most typical cake recipes call for an oven temperature of 350 degrees. Dense cakes (like pound cakes, bundt cakes, etc) do better at 325 degrees with a longer bake time.

What is the best temperature and time to bake a cake? ›

Cake Baking and Temperature Time

Typically, a cake is baked at a temperature of 180-190 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes. However, the temperature and time may vary depending on the recipe and the size of the cake. It's crucial to follow the recipe instructions carefully to achieve the best results.

How to adjust baking time from 9x13 to 8x8? ›

Cut Your Recipe in Half

And, because there won't be a major difference in surface area or batter depth when you pack your halved recipe into the smaller baking dish, you won't even need to adjust the oven temperature or the cooking time. Just cut all of the ingredients in your recipe in half. It's almost too perfect!

How long to bake a cake at 350 degrees? ›

  1. Gather all ingredients. ...
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). ...
  3. Cream sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl. ...
  4. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. ...
  5. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. ...
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly touched, 30 to 40 minutes.
Nov 11, 2023

How long does it take to bake a cake in the oven at 350? ›

Generally speaking, a sheet cake baked in a standard 9x13 inch pan will take between 25 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).

How long to bake cake in different size pans? ›

Cakes in larger pans will generally bake faster (about . 9 minutes per ounce of batter in a 10-inch pan), while cakes in smaller pans will often take longer (up to two minutes per ounce for a 6-inch pan). Meanwhile, cakes baked in a tube or Bundt pan may only need a minute per ounce of batter.


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