Simple Chocolate Water Cake

Chocolate Water Cake is a simple cake recipe made with baking staples and water instead of milk. It’s a quick and easy dessert when you’re craving chocolate!

cake on a white cake stand with powder sugar in a sifter and a fork on the side.

This chocolate water cake is an easy dairy-free cake recipe that is so simple to make with pantry staples. Even though it’s made with water instead of milk, it’s still rich with a nice chocolate flavor.

Water cakes have been around a long time. In the past, across many cultures, they were made when ingredients like eggs and dairy were hard to find or expensive. In the US, it’s often called “depression cake” because they were made a lot during the Great Depression.

But other cultures have versions, too, even Italy! Italian water cake is a beloved easy cake recipe that our family has made many times.

So, this time we’re making a chocolate water cake. Some water cake recipes are egg-free, but our recipe has them because they add moisture and give the cake a nice tender crumb.


  • Cake flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking powder
  • Granulated sugar
  • Room temperature water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vanilla extract
  • Large egg
  • Large egg yolk
  • Salt

Can you use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?

We haven’t tested this recipe with all-purpose flour. We use cake flour because it makes a cake with a softer crumb.

Cake flour and all purpose flour are not a 1 to 1 substitute so if you want to try it. We recommend using 1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour. Again, we haven’t tested it so let us know if you do and how it works.

Or you can make your own homemade cake flour, for every 1 cup of all purpose remove 2 tablespoons and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, be sure to sift the ingredients to remove any lumps.

Can you use milk instead of water?

Yes, but then it’s not a water cake! If you want to use milk, you can use the same amount.

cake on a white cake stand with a slice on a white plate in front.

How to Make a Water Cake

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a mixing bowl.

dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

In a separate large bowl, beat the egg, the extra egg yolk, water, oil, salt, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Mix for about five minutes so the mixture is well combined.

Wet ingredients mixed together in a medium bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and beat until the cake batter is smooth.

Dry ingredients mixed with the wet ones in a medium bowl.

Pour the batter into a prepared 8″ cake pan and bake the cake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Batter poured into a cake pan and then baked.


You can serve the cake plain or dust it with powdered sugar. Or, you can frost it with chocolate frostingcream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache or another frosting that you like.

Some whipped cream with fresh fruit would also make a nice topping. It’s the perfect birthday cake to cover in buttercream and sprinkles!

cake on a white cake stand with powder sugar in a sifter and cake knife and fork in front.

How to Store Chocolate Water Cake

Once the cake is cool, keep it covered and store it at room temperature. It will keep for a few days. I don’t recommend storing it in the fridge because it will dry out.

You can freeze it for several months, too. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and keep it in the freezer. Let it thaw at room temperature before slicing it.

This is such an easy delicious chocolate cake recipe – definitely one to keep on hand when you need a quick dessert! I hope you give it a try soon.

A slice of cake on a white plate with a fork on the side and chocolate chips scattered around.

More Easy Cake Recipes

cake on a white cake stand with powder sugar in a sifter in front.

Simple Chocolate Water Cake

Erika Marucci
Chocolate Water Cake is a simple cake recipe made with baking staples and water instead of milk. It's a quick and easy dessert when you're craving chocolate!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 slices
Calories 234 kcal


  • 2 cups Cake flour
  • 6 ¼ tablespoons cocoa
  • teaspoons Baking powder
  • ¾ cups +1 tablespoon Sugar
  • ¾ cups Water (room temperature)
  • tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C) and grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan.
  • In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder.
  • In another medium bowl add the egg, yolk, sugar, water, oil, salt and vanilla and beat everything together for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool, then dust with some powder sugar. Enjoy!


This Water Cake can be served plain or dusted with powdered sugar. You could also frost it with chocolate frosting or cream cheese frosting or top i with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
This cake will keep for a few days covered and stored at room temperature. Do not store it in the fridge, it will only dry out, but you can store it in the freezer and it will last for several months. Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
When you’re ready to serve it, let it thaw at room temperature before slicing it.


Calories: 234kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 9gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 226mgPotassium: 143mgFiber: 2gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 69IUCalcium: 69mgIron: 1mg
Keyword chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate water cake, water cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. Would this cake work in a 9 inch baking pan or would the cake be too shallow? If it would work in a 9 inch pan, what would be the baking time?

    1. Hi Steve, the cake would work in a 9 inch pan but it wouldn’t be as high as the one in the photo.I would start checking it for doneness after 30-35 minutes. Hope that helps! 🙂

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