Kirbie's Cravings

Water Cake (No Eggs, Butter or Milk)

This Italian water cake is easy to make and only requires a few pantry staples. No need for eggs or dairy. It’s the perfect cake to make when you’re running low on ingredients and you can do many variations to change the flavor.
overhead photo of a cake

I first came across the concept of Italian water cake a few months ago. I was intrigued by the idea of a cake using so few ingredients and without needing eggs or dairy. Little did I know how relevant the recipe would become.

I have been baking up a storm these last two weeks but trying my best to bake recipes that require few to no eggs. A few weeks ago, I made a crazy chocolate cake, which is another easy cake recipe that doesn’t need any eggs or dairy.

This cake recipe is another fun one to try if you’re looking for an eggless and dairy-free cake recipe.
photo of a cake with a slice removed

Cake Texture

The cake has a tighter crumb than most cakes. If you’re looking for a more tender crumb, I recommend you try the crazy chocolate cake instead. But I still really enjoyed this cake and have already made it a few times.

Type of Flour and Flour Tips

The traditional Italian water cake uses Italian 00 flour. However, since that is not as easily available in the US, I made it with all-purpose and it still turned out well.

I came across a few recipes that required the flour to be sifted in to make the cake fluffier. I tested it both ways and didn’t find a difference, so I would skip the sifting since it takes more time.

Cake Flavor Variations

What I love about this cake is that you can add different ingredients to create different flavors. The recipe I’m sharing today is for the basic cake plus a little bit of vanilla. But there is so much more you can do to make it more flavorful:

  • ground cinnamon to make a cinnamon flavored cake
  • espresso powder for a coffee-flavored cake
  • lemon or orange zest for a citrus cake

photo of a slice of cake garnished with fresh flowers

Have boxed cake mix on hand? Check out how you can use it to make easy 2-ingredient cakes.

Water Cake

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
This simple cake is egg-free and dairy-free. It's easy to make and you can customize to create various flavors.
4.72 from 28 votes


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the interior of an 8 inch round springform cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, sugar. Whisk vigorously with a whisk until evenly combined.
  • Add water, oil, vanilla and lemon zest (is using). Whisk until batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
  • Pour cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the surface of the cake is a light golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool before slicing and serving. You can dust cake with powdered sugar if desired.


  • Recipe slightly adapted from Manu's Menu
  • You can make this in an 8 inch or a 9 inch cake pan. Do not use a pan smaller than 8 inches because the cake will be too thick. If you are using a 9 inch pan, your cake will be much thinner and will likely require less baking time.
  • The is a very simple basic cake recipe and won't have much flavor on its own. The lemon zest does help add flavor. You can also add cinnamon for a cinnamon version, espresso powder for a coffee version or orange zest instead of lemon zest.
  • Measurements are in US cups.

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

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Recipe Rating

146 comments on “Water Cake (No Eggs, Butter or Milk)”

  1. I would like to get more recipes please

  2. I would like to get more recipes 

  3. Nice and very delicious 

  4. I’m enjoying these recipes very much! THANK YOU for NOT sharing my email! I haven’t done the recipe yet!

  5. Needs salt! Wonderful texture, very nice crumb, moist. Almost completely flavorless. Pretty sure a half teaspoon of salt would do the trick.

    • Not sure we would call it “flavorless” – the cake is just lightly sweet which is why we suggest adding lemon zest as an option.

  6. Can you use an 8” square pan

  7. whwre is cooking prosedure

    • All of the recipe instructions are in the recipe card at the end of the post before the comment section. You scrolled past it to leave your comment.

  8. Shalom,
    Need to make the Italian Water Cake gluten free. Not sure which GF flourblend to use for a successful outcome. Suggestions, please? Thank you.

    • We’ve only tested the recipe with AP flour. You could try a cup4cup GF flour, but we can’t say for sure how it will work.

  9. I had no sweets in the house nor milk so I found your recipe and can I just say it is amazing! From texture to taste. Even with some frosting it is the best cake I have made yet.

  10. Love the recipes. Easy peasy and so good. Loe it and them. Keep it comin!! Thanks again.

  11. I saw these cakes and decided to make both tonight! I love my desserts but lately have had to deny because of gallbladder issues.(watching fat content) I used Almond flavor in white cake. The Chocolate cake was also delicious (almost brownie like) both were hits after dinner with some Cool Whip(with added Powdered sugar) I’m impressed!

  12. I made this cake back in 1980’s and loved it! Over the years lost the recipe and couldn’t remember it. Lo and behold there it is on your site!!!!! I can’t tell you how happy I am. Made it for my now adult girl one who said Is that that cake? Well it is and I just love it!! You made an old lady very happy!!

  13. I made a 4 ingredient banana water cake.  I frosted it with a whipped cream cream cheese frosting.  I found the texture a bit rubbery like those cakes, etc made with applesauce.  Not bad, but not great.  I wouldn’t serve to guests.

    • We haven’t tried this recipe with banana – we hope you try it the way we made it, it will work better.

  14. Hi, could I use coconut (dessicated) in this recipe & if so how much should I use? Many thanks.

    • Coconut flakes should work, but we haven’t tried it so can’t say how much you will want to add.

  15. A very simple and inexpensive recipe.
    I experimented with self-rising
    flour and added 1/2 tbspn of baking powder which I think did not give enough rise to the cake (will try 1 tbspn baking powder next time) but overall, the cake turned out moist and delicious according to friends whom I shared with.

  16. Sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it.
    A question can I use honey or treacle instead of sugar. Tk u ?

  17. The cake rose beautifully and tasted lovely. A little too sweet for me. Instead of adding all the water, I used the lemon juice with the zest. Will make again with a little less sugar.

  18. I will make for my brother, who is vegetarian. He brings vegetarian (no eggs) cakes home from his temple and I marvel at how great and rich they taste. So I need recipes! Thank you, can’t wait to make this.

  19. Great idea,when staying safe,at home,thanks.

  20. I just made it and it has to much of a flour taste when it is done and you eat it. Can you tell me why or is that the way it is suppose to taste?

    • The cake should be sweet – did you measure the sugar in the right amount? You can also try some of the flavor variations we mention in the post if you want to add more flavor.

  21. I tried it and I think I did something wrong but overall it taste surprisingly really good.

  22. I love Japanese cheesecake definitely going to make it 
    I alway buy this from Harrods 

  23. I will definitely try this cake because there is no need for fancy ingredients 

  24. I made the water cake wow It was really fluffy and soft . I made 2 cakes the first one followed the recipe but reduced the sugar by 1/4cup was out of vanilla so I used butterscotch flavouring replaced the lemon peels with orange. The second one I used applesauce for the sugar used banana flavour it came out beautiful but no taste its still okay.

  25. Wow this water cake hmm am giving it a try right away

  26. Would really love to try this recipe in a Bundt pan – will it be ok to use?

  27. hi… could i add some sultanas and if yes how much? about half cup?

  28. Thank you, this Water Cake sounds easy and delicious!

  29. Tastes like an old fashioned home made cake that I loved as a child. Excellent.

  30. If adding cinnamon or extracts how much should be used?

  31. The ad for the recipe says no eggs flour or sugar for the “Water Cake” but when I read the recipe it has flour sugar and milk I think…is this a mistake?

  32. Wow I just love all your recipes & I am going to try a lot of them. Thank you Kirbie & to all the comments from people. I live in Cape Town in Sunny South Africa & I just love easy Recipes. Take care & stay safe everyone. God Bless regards Douglas ????

  33. Hi Kirbie
    Quick question. Can you make these cake receipes into muffins instead.

  34. I just finished baking mine….soo tasty? but not fluffy…sticky. I also added milo to it, making it chocolate water cake.

  35. Been saving this recipe for a few months and finally made it yesterday 🙂 Made a few changes.
    I substitute granulated sugar with erythritol, used rice bran oil, did not have lemon zest or vanilla but i did put a table spoon of instant coffee – which gave a nice swirly pattern like marble cake. It was delicious! oh i also used a small toaster oven to bake this cake and it was a success!! thank you for sharing this recipe!!!

  36. Love this recipe!

  37. Can you use Stevie instead of granulated sugar?

  38. Has anyone tried this recipe with Almond flour, Gluten free granddaughter?

    • I don’t think it will work with almond flour. It might work with a gluten free all purpose flour mix

  39. Would i be able to use mapE syrup instead of sugar

  40. Has anyone tried doubling this cake recipe and baking in a 13 x 9 pan?  If so, can you please comment length of time in oven?

  41. Can this cake be made with almond or gluten free flour? Also can you use stevia in place of regular sugar?

  42. Made it, and it was delicious. My husband had his with homemade peach jam. He even had a second piece. Yummy, it was so good. Thank you for sharing.

  43. I definitely will try this water cake. Thanks for sharing

  44. Easy, delicious cake recipe, thank you for sharing!  I made it with vanilla and orange zest in an 8 inch square pan.  The texture is between cake and a brownie, nice.  I “frosted” individual pieces with room temperature caramel apple dip.  

  45. Love to watch what is coming next will make water cake. So far all good item I have made everyone enjoying waiting for next suprise.

  46. Looks very nice going to try this one yum.

  47. Wow! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try this!
    Eager to see how it tastes with the lemon zest?

  48. I made this today. I replaced the sugar with 2/3 cup of maple syrup. I reduced the water by 1/4 cup. I added a tspn of ground cinnamon and 1/2 tspn of salt. I did not use the lemon zest. It turned out very well and tasty. I will certainly try this again.

    • thank you for sharing!

    • I wanted to use some thin flavored syrup up in a cake. That is why I searched for cake made with water. You have gone 1 step further and given me a tried & true recipe. Thank you!!!!

    • I made this today using your substitutions Jim. I used Hoosier Sugar Daddy
      German Vanilla Coffee Syrup. You can get it online and he has lots of flavors.
      Uses pure cane sugar. Not refined sugar. It has a subtle coffee flavor. I have several
      others to try. Thank you again!!!

  49. I didn’t have any of the pans listed, so I ended up using my muffin tin. It took about 25 minutes to cook. I split the muffins and served them with butter and strawberry jam (kind of like a scone). They are delicious!!!

  50. I love to try this recipe, but what can I use instead of sugar?As a cancer survivor ,since I like eating cakes a lot.

  51. Have you tried making this recipe gluten free?

  52. Can I make with instant coffee instead of instant espresso?  Would it taste good if I also added  cinnamon? Thank you. 

  53. hi,
    thank you so much for this. Really need something this simple and quick to make. I am thinking of Using milk instead of water to make it seem more healthy.
    Can i do that

  54. Would I be able to decorate with traditional American buttercream? This seemed like a great option for a 1st birthday cake for a kid with an egg, sesame and nut allergy!

  55. Hi. Im baking mine tomorrow and was wondering if I could make it a coffee cake and how much coffee granules I should use for it ??

  56. I’ve made it several times now. This last time, I used 4 Stash Sweet Honeydew green tea bags steeped in 1 cup of water instead of plain water. I love that it’s easy and quick. I love that it’s easy to change up flavors.

  57. Thank you so much for sharing this cake receipe

  58. I’m baking mine right now. One cup of water was not enough to mix until smooth. I added more water and a little more vanilla oil, Splenda and lemon juice and lemon zest to make it more flavorful. We’ll see how it turns out, 

  59. Is the batter supposed to be extremely tight and sticky??? Maybe I missed a step or something…???

  60. Hi,
    The water should be lukewarm or at room temperature?

    • room temperature is fine

      • This sounds intriguing and I can see that cherry, apple or other juices could give it different flavors. I’ll bet you could substitute applesauce for the oil. I have done that with other cakes, but they do get dry after a while. I might even put dried fruit in it for more variety.
        Have you tried the water pie? I haven’t yet, but that’s intriguing too.

      • I have not tried the water pie though it’s been on my list to try!

  61. I tried it, probably with too much lemon juice (3 lemons) and substituted butter for oil. It came out too dense like tough pudding. The baking dish was only about 6.5″. Wondering if I used too much lemon and the baking dish size were factors. Also wondering about substituting orange drink (not juice). I think I go overboard with the flavors ??

    • Adding too much lemon juice can definitely be a factor as it can make the batter dense, rubbery, etc. Also if you used a smaller baking dish, the cake may not cook all the way through because it is too thick

  62. Will it work as a cupcake , need no egg recipes for school

  63. This is something different and I loved it. Thank You for sharing this.

  64. Hi, can i add yeast?

  65. Can you bake this in a 9×13 pan? If so for how long?

  66. This recipe has been in my Italian family for years! There are definitely different ways to make this cake. My relatives in Italy sometimes add orange juice instead of the water. It gives it a delicious flavor! 

  67. I tried it! It did better with some salt added in. 

  68. Yummy. I added 1/2 maple extract and 1/2 vanilla extract as well as the juice from the lemon I tested. What a wonderful flavor combination. Such a simple and quick cake. I definitely will experiment with other flavors. This is great for us lactose intolerant folks!