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Ricotta Cake

Our Neapolitan cake is soft as a down pillow, creamy like custard, and lightly flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. Serve wedges at room temperature with an easy sauce of fresh strawberries.

  • Servings: 8
  • Yield: Serves 8
Ricotta Cake

Photography: Charles Schiller

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2003


  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Unsalted butter, for pan
  • All-purpose flour, for pan
  • 3 pounds fresh ricotta cheese, drained 3 hours or preferably overnight
  • 3 large whole eggs plus 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Strawberry Sauce to Make 1 1/2 Cups


  1. Bring milk to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla bean. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until rice is very tender and has absorbed all liquid, about 30 minutes.

  2. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Cover; let cool, stirring occasionally. Discard vanilla bean.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, combine the rice mixture, ricotta, whole eggs and egg yolks, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until golden on top and almost set in the center, 65 to 70 minutes; cover with foil if starting to brown too much. Transfer pan to a cooling rack.

  4. When cake has completely cooled, run a knife around edge to loosen. Gently
    remove ring; transfer cake to a serving platter. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve with sauce.

Reviews (12)

  • ladytiffany 21 Apr, 2014

    2014 Easter. Made this cake in a 9" springform. If you have a 10", use that because it makes A LOT of cake. Drained ricotta 4 hours ahead of baking and it turned out fine. Next time I'll drain overnight, if I have the refridgerator space, that is. Yes, 3 pounds of ricotta is the correct amount. I know, it sounds like a typo, but it's not. My bake time was 85 or 90 minutes. It definitely is better to serve completely cooled. In fact, I liked it better the next day right out of the refrigerator.

  • MommaG67 7 Apr, 2012

    I have made this cake for the last 5 Easters and it is always a hit at desert. It is filling and fattening but truly worth every calorie!

  • ziggers 1 Apr, 2010

    This cake tastes OK, but I didn't like the texture which was firmer than rice pudding but chunky with rice bits that reminded me of tapioca. Also the cinnamon didn't mix well and formed into little crispy bits which were like biting into egg shells. I wouldn't make this again. As others have said, it overflows an 8" springform pan.

  • alexandria_powell 30 Mar, 2010

    This cake is lovely but they omit the calorie content, a whopping 643 calories a slice without the strawberry sauce. Divide the dessert 12 ways instead of 8 and you have a more reasonable 429 before sauce, but not a lot of cake.

  • roni7070 23 Apr, 2009

    I made this and a red velvet cake for Easter this year. Everyone raved about the red velvet cake but hardly anyone said anything good about this cake. I liked it personally, but be careful of who you are cooking for with this one! The strawberry sauce went great on the side!

  • CateIsAFiance 10 Apr, 2009

    This looks delicious - a nice variation on the traditional recipe. I can't wait to try it!

  • joao_dasilva 30 Nov, 2008

    It's total comfort food, like rice pudding in pie form. I used a spring form pan with the cheesecake trick of leaving it to cool in the oven with the door open to hopefully prevent a surface crack. , My vertical edge didn't brown as shown in the photo. I will make this again, but I think the photo and description oversell it a bit. It's more rustic than "down pillow" would suggest, but It's definitely tradition worthy.

  • BevJordan 23 Mar, 2008

    Thanks for the insight. Mine came out beautifully and tastes wonderful, but I'm not sure the center is really done. I baked it for at least 85 minutes (in the 10" springform pan) and it was definitely brown on top. The use of an angel food pan is a good idea and I will try it next time. (There will be a 'next time'! !). Let me know how the angel food pan worked.

  • MedicBarbie 23 Mar, 2008

    I tried this version as opposed to my traditional Easter pie with a crust. The other comment is correct, an 8" springform pan would be too small.

    I put mine in an angel food pan, because that's what I had, and I thought a springform might not cook all the way into the middle. I'm sure baking time will be slightly shortened. I'll post another comment when it's out of the oven. It does smell heavenly though :)

  • BevJordan 22 Mar, 2008

    The batter would have overflowed the 8" springform pan. I put it in a 10" pan and it comes to within a 1/4" of the edge. I will post another comment when it comes out of the oven. Any suggestions??

  • KatiePie 22 Mar, 2008

    My Italian Grandmother used to make a slightly different version of Pastiera. It had rice, eggs (since we lived on a farm she used fresh duck eggs), milk, sugar and lemon zest baked in a pie crust. This pie was only made at Easter time. She did pass this down to my mother and now my sisters and I are carring on the Easter tradition. It's wonderful to see that other Italian families also enjoy this spring treat.

  • foodandmooddoteu 18 Mar, 2008

    For Easter in Naples and now every where in Italy, we prepare n n n n n n Pastiera Napoletanan n n n n n . We do little pastiera for our frinds.

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