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 7 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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41 comments on “Water Cake (No Eggs, Butter or Milk)”

  1. 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!

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

  3. 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! 

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

  5. Hi, can i add yeast?

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

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

  8. 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

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

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

  11. 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, 

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this cake receipe

  13. 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.

  14. 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 ??

  15. 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!

  16. 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

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

  18. Have you tried making this recipe gluten free?

  19. 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.

  20. 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!!!

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