Water cake: the light and delicious vegan dessert!

Total time: 1 hr
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4-6
By Cookist

Some call it a magic cake, but we call it a water cake. Why? Because this cake is dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan! It’s hard to imagine that you can make a delicious cake without eggs, butter, or milk, but it’s definitely possible. With a few simple ingredients like sugar, water, lemon, oil, all-purpose flour, and baking powder, you can whip up a light and fluffy cake that will leave your guests speechless. It’s so easy to make too! Simply whisk together the ingredients, pour into a cake tin, and bake. As easy as that. Who said you can’t bake a cake without breaking the bank? We show you how!

What is Water Cake

Water Cake is an inexpensive way to make light and fluffy cakes. Also called magic cake, or depression cake, the cake is said to have originated at a time when there was a shortage of eggs and dairy. The solution was to bake a cake from simple ingredients that most cooks have on hand.

Water Cake Ingredients

  • Sugar – use granulated sugar in the batter and powdered sugar for dusting at the end
  • Water – fresh room temperature water
  • Lemon – fresh, unwaxed lemons
  • Seed oil – see below for substitutions
  • Flour – use all-purpose or “00” Italian flour
  • Baking powder – gives the cake its lift

How to Make Water Cake

Prepare a cake tin by greasing it well and lining it with parchment paper or baking paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, lemon zest, and oil.

Sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Whisk the batter until all the ingredients are well combined.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the cake tin, dust it with powdered sugar, and serve.

Water Cake Variations

Don’t feel like lemon flavor? Add any of the following flavorings instead:

  • Use orange or lime zest instead of lemon zest.
  • Add a teaspoon of instant coffee for a coffee-flavored water cake.
  • Add ground cinnamon to the batter for a cinnamon-flavored cake.
  • Use other extracts like orange liquor, or almond, rum, or caramel extract.


Any neutral oil will work with this recipe: vegetable, canola, or olive oil.

Make sure to grease the cake tin well, and grease again after lining it with parchment paper. This will ensure that the cake does not stick.

How to Store Water Cake

Store the cake in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

150g (3/4 cup)
310ml (1 1/4 cups)
Seed oil
45ml (1/4 cup)
Lemon zest
All purpose flour
330g (2 3/4 cups)
Baking powder
16g (1 tbsp)
5g (1/2 tbsp)
A pinch of salt
Powdered sugar


Place the sugar in a small bowl and add the water.

Add the lemon (zest), and seed oil and mix.

Add the lemon (zest), and seed oil and mix.

Sift the flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Pour the water mixture into the dry ingredients.

Whisk the batter well until all ingredients are combined and there are no longer visible lumps.

Pour the batter into a greased cake tin (20 cm/8 inch) lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 175°C/350°F for 45 minutes.

Unmold the cake and transfer it to the serving plate.

Decorate with powdered sugar, cut on slices, and serve.


Every dish has a story
Find out more on Cookist social networks
api url views