I accidentally-on-purpose made an amazingly delicious gluten free protein cake this weekend.

On purpose because we had a birthday in the house; accidentally because I’d experimented with altering a recipe—and didn’t realise that my oven thermostat was broken.

It was a lemon zest and ricotta flourless cake, based on this recipe from Cakelets and Doilies.

Belle’s recipe looked great—I’m not claiming to have improved it, just used different ingredients and an accidentally cooler oven.

We’re currently on a big protein kick here, so I replaced some of the ground almonds withcricket flour from Gathr, and added in some whey protein. If you want to try this cake, these are not essential ingredients! You can just use 240g of ground almonds (no cricket flour or whey protein).


Ingredients for the lemon and ricotta protein cake

120g unsalted butter
275g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
zest of 4 lemons
4 eggs
230g of ground almonds and 10g of cricket flour OR 240g of ground almonds
1 scoop (30g) of vanilla whey protein powder – this is entirely optional
300g of ricotta
icing sugar to dust it with, and maybe some almond flakes as well

You’re going to need a 20cm cake tin and two big mixing bowls.


  1. Heat the oven to 160C (fan-assisted) 180C (conventional oven). Who knows what temperature mine was? I’m guessing 140C (conventional), so ignore that!
  2. Line a 20cm round cake tin. I like to use baking paper cake tin liners (e.g. from Lakeland) but you can do it any way you like.
  3. Cut the vanilla pod lengthways, and scoop out the seeds.
  4. Zest the lemons, saving the rest of the lemon for another time.
  5. Separate the eggs: put the yolks into a small container, and the whites into a big mixing bowl.
  6. Put the butter, 165g of the caster sugar, the vanilla seeds and the lemon zest in another big mixing bowl, and beat using an electric beater until the mixture is pale and creamy.
  7. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  8. Add the ground almonds and the cricket flour/whey protein if you’re using those. Beat it all together well. It will be a very stiff dough. Fold the ricotta gently into the almond mixture.
  9. Scrape the beaters into the mixture and wash them well—you’re going to need them to whisk the egg whites.
  10. Whisk the egg whites using the clean beaters until you’ve got soft peaks. Gently add the remaining caster sugar to the egg whites a bit at a time, whisking after each addition until you’ve got stiff peaks.
  11. Now fold (gently, gently) about a third of the egg whites and sugar mix into the cake mixture. The aim is to keep as much air in the egg white mix as possible, so add the egg white mix in portions, and fold it in very gently.
  12. Once all the ingredients (except for the icing sugar) have been combined, pour it into the cake tin, and smooth the top. Belle suggests adding almond flakes on top for decoration; I didn’t have any, and it was fine.
  13. Bake the cake in the middle of your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until it is cooked, and firm to the touch. (My cake took 90 minutes, which just shows you how cool my oven was!)
  14. Then cool the cake in the cake tin, and once it is completely cold, you can dust it with icing sugar to serve it. I use an old tea-strainer, put the icing sugar in that, hold it over the cake and tap it gently with a spoon – the icing sugar will sift down onto the cake.


Don’t be confused by the image: on the plate with the cake is a different protein cake – a cacao protein ball, made with flax seeds and brought by a friend. I did mention that the birthday boy is eating a lot of protein…

And my oven is seriously broken—it cooked way too cool on the cake-making day, and over 35C too hot on the next day, despite showing the same temperature on the dial. Now that is a nuisance.


Gluten Free Lemon and Ricotta Protein Cake