Italian Lemon-Ricotta Cake Recipe (2024)



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Professional bakers might have an 11" cake pan. Not so much the rest of us. Elsewhere, it was noted that a 10" cake pan worked with a little bit more cooking. But a recipe developed for such a specific and odd piece of equipment simply doesn't make sense. The NYT should at least offer some instructions for using more commonly sized cake pans.

Martha in Malibu

This cake was a huge success at a dinner party! Everyone begged to take home extra slices. I used the zest of three lemons and used a 10" springform pan. It was flavorful without being overpowering and very tender and light. I have no idea why there are negative reviews. This one is a keeper!

claudia from citizen pie in cleveland

we serve migliaccio in our pizza shop. our recipe was inspired by a Naples version but we took months tweaking it until we got what i believe to be a masterpiece! fine semolina - not coarse. and always stir that mixture on the stove until it thickens. you should use a stand mixer and really beat it smooth. use 3 cups milk and 1 cup cream. use orange, vanilla and lemon. all 3. and strega if you can. use a few more eggs too. bake lower and longer. and now i've said too much!


I loved that this "cheesecake" was crustless. I wanted a more lemony flavor in the batter, so I added zest of two large lemons and one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with vanilla extract. I used a 10" baking pan and extended the bake time an extra 10 minutes. The slices are about the size of a slice of regular cheesecake. It was firm, light, lemony and absolutely delicious!


It occurred to me that this could be made with leftover whey from Melissa Clark's homemade ricotta (so easy and quick it doesn't make sense to buy it) because it is rich, already hot, lightly salted, and a little lemony. Forewarned by the earlier comments, I slightly more whey - more like a litre - and cooked it with the semolina until too thick to stir. It worked so perfectly (and was so delicious) I wondered whether this recipe was traditionally created to use both the ricotta and whey.

Steve Abbott

I too was disconcerted by thickness of semolina-milk mixture which made hand stirring very difficult and boiling unobservable. I basically guesstimated time and removed pan from heat as stirring became impossible. The thickness quickly dissipated as the sugar and butter were added. I'll add them sooner next time while saucepan still on heat which should make timing of process less dependent on the strength of one's arm!


After using the zest of 4 lemons and a 10" springform I thought the result was good, but disappointing. The flavor was ok but not intense; the texture a little grainy. Then I made a discovery that transformed the cake. I put the leftovers in the refrigerator. The next day I decided to taste it again before throwing it out, and was astonished. The flavor was intensely lemony, and the texture was fine grained, more like a cheesecake ! So here's a cake you can make the day before!


You can use cream of wheat (farina). Semolina flour has a much coarser texture than regular flour, which would NOT work well. I have substituted cream of wheat in an Italian nut cake that I make often and no one noticed the substitution.

Gitanjali Bhattacharjee

I used the zest of 4 lemons, and even then the lemon flavor was quite delicate - I'd definitely recommend using a lot of zest! In addition, I wasn't expecting the batter to get as thick and nearly unworkable as it did. A note about the expected consistency would have been reassuring.


My mom would make miglioccio on a regular basis; and this recipe is quite similar to hers; though she would add the zest of two lemons, if not more, along with their juice. Also she would heat the milk, along with the sugar and butter for a better texture, when the semolina was slowly added -- first, gragually, with a whisk, and finished with a wooden spoon. She never had lumps in her cakes, a all too common problem with this recipe, as written . . .


Read 10 times. Everything set out. BIG mistake thinking simmer meant a low/barely boil. WRONG per dictionary, "just below the boiling point". Ha! I felt so stupid. (49 yr old) So milk was too hot when I tried to WHISK the flour/salt in - it immediately turned to dough. It was hard to find a similar video but the one I found they add the flour/salt in right away, not waiting for the milk to get hot. Hope this helps you! Not giving up, trying again. :)


I just answered my own question and made this with orange instead of lemon. I had semolina flour (separate answer: you can mail order Bob's Red Mill semolina flour from or or I used orange zest and about 2TB of o.j. and it came out great. Many compliments. An interesting texture, not quite cake, not quite pie, sort of in between. Would definitely make again.


Definitely more lemon zest. 3 medium sized lemons
Use vanilla extract and lemon juice.
Make ricotta from scratch and use whey instead of milk.
with a 9 inch pan, use 2/3 of recipe.


I also add more zest and lemon juice. Then I bake this in two 9” cake pans and once cooled, put a layer of melted raspberry jam in between the two cakes. I chill it and then serve with fresh raspberries and a little more jam melted over the top. Huge hit with all ages at my house.

Louise Schiller

There is no way this much batter can fit into a short cake pan. I've made this twice using a springform pan with high sides and it comes out perfectly! Very light and delicious.Use Meyer lemons if you can get them.


When do you add the lemon juice of lemons? Or do you just use the zest?

Mark Mitchell

I have to say, after reading all the cooking notes for this recipe, I was terrified to attempt to prepare it—and at the same time, how could I resist?The cake came out perfectly great. Just remember that "simmer" is not "just off the boil," simmer is 180"F-185°F., MAX. Slowly whisk fine semolina flour into the milk at that temperature and you can't go wrong. The mixture thins out progressively/considerably when you add sugar, butter, and eggs. The 11" pan is also key. Absolutely delicious!

Marti Bommarito

My "batter" also turned into a hard, gelatinous paste that was both unable to stir and unpourable even though I heated the milk to just a simmer and added the semolina gradually while stirring. I used very high-quality, authentic ricotta and the zest of one large lemon. When the texture was not what I expected, I almost tossed it in the bin but decided to bake it anyway. It took more than 1.5 hours, was slightly golden at the edges but was too dense. Wish I had read the comments before.


My take on this recipe using my vintage O’Keefe & Merit ~On adding the semolina to the hot milk it became a solid ball. No way could I mix for 2 minutes, so I didn’t. I used a 10” spring form pan and greased it before baking. After about an hour I raised the temperature to 350 and baked it for about 25 minutes more. I used 1.5 large lemons and it barely tasted of lemons. I’ll be checking out other lemon ricotta recipes…

Italian chhese cake

Do not put eggs in warming milk Butter is okay

Bev Wenger-Trayner

I made a big batch of the raspberry sauce with lots and lots of lemon juice and raspberry jam - and then poured it all over the tip. Absolutely delicious. One of my faves!


Delicious! Used Bobs Red Mill Semolina and slowly added to warmed milk. If it becomes too difficult to stir use your mixer on very low speed to blend, then add eggs. I added 2TBS extra lemon juice and more zest. I added tiny squares candied lemon peel to the mixture. Cooking times depend on your oven so watch carefully. A raspberry coulis made with a rosè added a nice pairing. Lovely presentation with a dusting of powered sugar, coulis and a few raspberries. Will make again and again.


Made half recipe in 7 inch springform pan - served 6. With blueberry compote and raspberry coulis as options. Bob’s semolina is fabulous - smooth batter without much effort. Made day in advance with extra zest, and orange oil. Still subtle. Light and not too sweet.


Add more lemon

Diane Var

I made this today after reading the comments. While heating the milk I added the sugar and butter. When I added the semolina, I added it slowly and stirred constantly. It did not clump up but it does become very stiff. While the batter was cooling I added the lemon zest to release the oils. Baked in a tube pan. Keeper.


I just made this tonight and followed the recipe exactly except I didn’t have confectioners sugar or an 11” pan so I used my 9” springform pan and it came out very tall and very light, lemony and delicious. It’s a keeper!


When I saw the raspberry sauce recipe I’m glad I have some in the freezer from last summer made from my home grown raspberries.


Good cake, but I want more lemon flavor. I'll try 4x lemons to zest and maybe some vanilla. I also hate using 4x lemons just for zest, but I'm also helping a friend to use their lemons from their tree.


Absolutely love this cake. It's low effort and tastes light and very nice. I do add the juice of two lemons, to balance it out and make it more lemon-y. I add the juice after I take the semolina-milk mixtures off the oven and into a bowl.

Junior Soprano

Tried this today and had the same issue where the Semolina flour absorbed all the milk within 30 seconds so I took it off the stove. I added the zest and juice of 2 large lemons and some vanilla extract (1-2 teaspoons). I also added about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. The additions helped but I definitely got two 9" cakes out of it instead of one 11".

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Italian Lemon-Ricotta Cake Recipe (2024)
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