This is an impressive dessert that looks good and tastes even better. Full of crunchy toasted almonds, tangy candied citrus peel and small nuggets of rich chocolate, this ricotta cake will not disappoint.

There seems to be plenty of different versions of Italian Ricotta Cake, but I like this one the best after finding this recipe in an old edition of 1991’s Australia Vogue Cookbook. Adapted with gluten-free ingredients and the addition of almonds and peel, I hope you will like my version.

The pastry is not solely a pie crust nor a cake, it’s a bit of both!  You’ll have to make it to understand what I mean. It holds the ricotta filling beautifully and transforms the cake into a wonderful dessert.

Unlike most cream cheese desserts or cakes, ricotta lightens this cake into a less-stodgy indulgence. The orange and lemon peel, plus the orange liqueur gives the cake a summery flavour, although Christmas and Easter come to mind too. It really could be an all-year-round dessert!

Gluten-Free Italian Ricotta Cake


For the pastry/cake:

  • 240g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (reduce to 1/4 tsp if your store-bought flour has xanthan gum already included in the blend)
  • 65g light brown sugar
  • 35g almond meal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 130g very cold butter, cut into small pieces

For the filling:

  • 400g ricotta, full fat (the fresher, the better!)
  • 40g toasted almonds, skins removed and halved
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier/Cointreau or 1 teaspoon orange essence flavouring
  • 50g dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon candied orange peel, cut into small pieces*
  • 1 ½ tablespoon candied lemon peel, cut into small pieces*

*Or use 3 tablespoons of candied mixed peel found in the baking sections of most supermarkets


  • Icing sugar, sifted, to decorate
  • Chocolate-coated candied orange segments, to decorate
  • Whipped cream, to serve
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Resting time: Overnight (12 hours)
  • Baking time: 1 hour
  1. In a food processor, mix the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, brown sugar, almond meal, egg and vanilla together.

2. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse the mixture until it comes together and resembles a soft dough.

3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover and chill while preparing the filling.

4. Line a spring-form tin with foil, pressing well into all the sides. Grease the foil with some butter or with an empty butter package.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

6. Combine all the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.

7. Press half the dough mixture into the base of the prepared tin.

8.​ Cover the base with the ricotta filling.

9. Finish with the remaining dough mixture by rolling it out on a sheet of baking paper to fit the top of the ricotta layer. Flip the rolled circle piece over onto the ricotta layer.

10. Bake for 50 minutes or until the cake appears golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.

11. Allow to cool down completely in the tin. Cover the tin with plastic film and chill overnight.

12. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before removing it from the tin.

13. Set the cake on a nice cake platter, dust with sifted icing sugar over the top. Serve with some freshly whipped cream or double cream and candied chocolate oranges.

  • Makes 8 – 10 slices
  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Slices can be frozen

If you want more nuts in the cake, add some extra almonds together with toasted pine nuts and hazelnuts.