Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta

This Olive Oil Cake Bursts Bright with Lemon and the Sweet Herbal Note of Fresh Basil. A Tender and Moist Cake with its center filled with an Easy Homemade Lemon Curd. No frosting needed as this cake pairs perfectly with a Dollop of Whipped Honeyed Lemon Ricotta!

Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta | URBAN BAKES

Truth be told, I was thisclose to throwing out this cake. The crackly surface and the thought of too much basil scattered throughout, left me in such disappointment. Then I took a bite, because you know, it comes with the territory to taste test everything… and lo and behold, this blew me away!

This cake is a spin on my grapefruit curd filled cake and I completely forgot that it was normal to have an uneven surface. If you look closely at the previous cake, underneath the dust of sugar, you can see what looks to be a flap of cake over the top. Usually I understand why little mishaps occur, but this one, I cannot explain. Luckily, the appearance has no bearing on how incredible it tastes. So I kept this lemon one, finished my slice and continued garnishing the top with dollops of honeyed ricotta, a few slices of candied lemon and piped lemon curd.

Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta | URBAN BAKES

This lemon cake is a dense one, in a good way. Still very much moist and with a center filled with homemade lemon curd which took the texture of the cake to a new level. And THIS is the reason why I kept the recipe. Definitely a pleasant surprise! Plus, it’s a cake where you don’t really need to have frosting because the curd pulls through in every bite giving ample amount of tenderness.

On the other hand, if you do want a soft contrast to the rich lemon flavor and a little touch of added moisture, a dollop of the honeyed ricotta will suffice. I love this lightly sweetened ricotta. First and foremost, I feel less guilty having this over traditional buttercream frosting that has a much higher fat and sugar content. But can we pause for a moment to discuss something new I recently learned about olive oil? I’m just shocked by this!

Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta | URBAN BAKES

For a few reasons, I’ve slowly integrated a more Mediterranean diet. I’m not a fan of any [fad] diet but a Mediterranean one is more of a long term lifestyle and so for this reason, I’ve begun to switch about half of my traditional American meals to this kind. And if there is one ingredient this diet consumes A LOT of, is olive oil!

I was never a true fan of olive oil because I felt it had a distinct almost pungent flavor but reading into this new book, The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, I learned, I may have been using the wrong olive oil!

Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta | URBAN BAKES

Purchasing and Storing Olive Oil

Olives begin to change flavor the moment they are pulled from the tree so to maintain its desired flavor profile, it must be pressed quickly. In addition, it must be bottled very close to the source to reduce the risk of oxidation thus spoilage. When shopping for the freshest bottle and storing olive oil, look for the following:

  • Look for the “Harvest Date” and not the “Best By” date. Once olives are harvested, they are good for about 18 months. The best-by date could be 24 to 32 months after the oil was bottled so as it reaches closer to the best-by date, the oil could be 3 to 4 years old.
  • Ensure the bottle is dark. Clear glass or plastic bottles give a greater exposure to light and the sun creating damage to the chlorophyll in the oil thus producing a harsh and stale flavor.
  • Purchase olive oil that has been sourced from a single country. If a bottle lists multiple countries as to where they’re sourced, their olives have a greater potential of oxidation. Remember, olives ideally should be pressed and bottled close to the source. You can find the country of origin listed on the label of the bottle.
  • Avoid storing oil in the refrigerator as this could cause it to turn cloudy, thick and viscous. The change in texture can be reversed after a few hours at room temperature.
  • Avoid storing oil on the kitchen counter or any place where it may be exposed to heat. Heat accelerates spoilage.
  • Store oil in a dark and dry cupboard or pantry away from heat.
  • Unopened bottle of olive oil is good for 1 year. Once opened, it’s optimal flavor is good for 3 months. Avoid buying in bulk.
  • TIP! To check for freshness, pour a small amount of oil in a bowl and if it smells like crayons or stale walnuts, it’s no good; discard.
Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta | URBAN BAKES

With all this said, I went out and purchased America’s Test Kitchen recommended, California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil. Sourced from Northern California and at an affordable price, this is a great choice for any beginner using this ingredient. And it was a significant improvement in flavor from this spiced chocolate and pear olive oil cake. A much superior quality making this lemon cake very enjoyable!

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Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta | URBAN BAKES

Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Ricotta

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  • Author: URBAN BAKES
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 inch cake 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Olive Oil Cake Bursts Bright with Lemon and the Sweet Herbal Note of Fresh Basil. A Tender and Moist Cake with its center filled with an Easy Homemade Lemon Curd. No frosting needed as this cake pairs perfectly with a Dollop of Whipped Honeyed Lemon Ricotta!




  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup (240 grams) water
  • 1 lemon, sliced 1/8 inch thick


  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup (180 grams) water
  • 3 egg yolks (45 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons (48 grams) lemon juice


  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams)
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons (24 grams) lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup lemon curd


  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (83 grams) ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) lemon zest


  1. CANDIED LEMON SLICES: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to a boil then, decrease heat to medium-low.  
  2. Carefully lay slices in a single layer at the bottom of the pan. Cook until slices become translucent, about 10 to 12 minutes. Once ready, remove the pan from heat. Using tongs, grab each slice and lay onto the prepared baking sheet. Generously coat both sides with additional sugar.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand overnight to harden.  For a softer and pliable slice, wait 1 to 2 hours to dry before serving.   
  3. CURD: In a small saucepan, whisk sugar and cornstarch together. Mix in water and egg yolks until no lumps remain. Bring mixture to a boil and continue to stir until it begins to thicken. Cook for 1 minute then remove from heat.
  4. Whisk in lemon zest and juice until curd becomes uniform in texture, about 2-3 minutes. No straining is necessary.
  5. Transfer curd to a dry bowl and refrigerate uncovered for 20 minutes. Once removed, stir one time before filling the cake.
  6. CAKE:  Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).  Grease and flour the bottom and sides of an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  7. In a bowl attached to a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment on medium to high speed, beat eggs, oil and sugar until thick and pale yellow, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in melted butter, basil, lemon juice and lemon zest until just combined.
  8. With the stand mixer on low speed, gradually add in flour mixture and continue to mix until just combined.  Stir in sour cream.  Batter will be thick.
  9. Spoon half the batter evenly into the springform pan. Spoon curd evenly over the batter, spreading just up to 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) from the edge. Drop spoon the remaining cake batter starting from the edge of the curd working towards the center. Use an angled spatula to evenly spread batter towards the center of the cake to cover the curd.
  10. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is set and the cake is golden. Center of the cake may sink slightly or have very small cracks, this is normal. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before releasing the spring and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cake may be stored in the fridge.
  11. HONEY LEMON RICOTTA: In a deep bowl using an immersion blender, mix heavy cream, ricotta, honey and lemon zest together until smooth. Volume should double.  Dollop whipped ricotta onto the cooled cake.  Lay candied lemon slices on top and pipe any remaining curd for additional flavor and flare.  Slice and ENJOY!


  • Although it appears to be many ingredients in this recipe, many are repeats separated into 4 major components to the overall cake: candied lemons, lemon curd, lemon cake, and honeyed ricotta.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Cuisine: American

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