1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting the cakes
8 to 10 lemon peels
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare four 5 1/2 x 3-inch (5-ounce) loaf pans by buttering the inside, lightly dusting with flour, and lining the inner sides and bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, lemon peels, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together. Massage and fully cover the rinds with the sugar and salt mix. Set aside and allow to breakdown and become soft.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients—flour, baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. After the dry ingredients have been sifted, carefully pour them onto a large piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the granulated sugar and butter on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and incorporate the ricotta, whipping on medium-low for 3 minutes. With mixer on medium, drop in the eggs, one at a time. Mix until fully incorporated. Followed by the lemon zest, juice, and vanilla extract. Then, in 2 batches, gradually add in the dry ingredients. Mix on medium until the batter is cohesive in appearance.
Pour the batter evenly amongst the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 to 30 minutes, then top with confectioners’ sugar and the candied lemon peels and enjoy!