Go Back
Lemon Ricotta Crumb Cake. The perfect marriage of fresh citrus and rich ricotta cheese, crowned with a buttery shortbread cookie crumb topping!

Lemon Ricotta Crumb Cake

Servings 9 (3" squares) or 16 (2 1/4" squares)


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest from 1 large lemon about 1 loose Tablespoon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice from one large lemon
  • skim milk or your milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the crumb topping:

  • 1 5.3 ounce box Walker's Shortbread Cookies
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or spray a 9" square baking pan. Set aside. Adjust oven rack to one step down from the middle of the oven.
  2. In a large mixing bowl use an electric mixer to combine sugar and lemon zest for about 30 seconds. You should smell the lemon fragrance release as you're mixing.
  3. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for another 30 seconds.
  4. Juice the lemon over a strainer into a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1/2 cup. (I had just a little less than 1/4 cup of lemon juice from my lemon.)
  5. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add the lemon/milk mixture and the melted butter. Whisk until well combined.
  6. Add the ricotta mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. (I switch to a spatula for this part.)
  7. Spread evenly in prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  8. While cake is baking, break up shortbread cookies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and sugar. Process until fully combined and you have finely ground crumbs.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven after 15 minutes and sprinkle crumbs evenly over top.
  10. Return cake to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  11. Allow to cool on a baking rack. Cut and serve.

Recipe Notes

*You don't have to use a mixer for this recipe. You can rub the lemon zest into your sugar with your finger tips, then whisk the rest of the dry ingredients into the sugar.

*If you like to experiment, you can try these options. For a slightly fluffier cake, reduce butter to 6 Tablespoons. Richer and denser cake? Increase ricotta to 1 cup.

*I'm also going to try putting the crumbs on before baking to find out if they can hold up to the full baking time. I want to see if I can eliminate that intermediate step. If I do try that, I'll report back.

*I love lemon juice powder. It adds such a burst of lemon flavor. If you have it, I would add a tablespoon to the dry ingredients.

*Store cake at room temperature, lightly covered.

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2016