White Cold Water Cake

A vintage recipe that is a must try! White cold water cake with fluffy 7 minute frosting. Simple flavors, but so comforting and good.

Depression era cakes have been popular lately as it has been hard to find pantry staples…or even get to a store! Wacky cake and mayo cake are two vintage cakes that have stood the test of time.

This White Cold Water Cake is another. This simply sweet two layer white cake is an amazing flavor and soft texture. All thanks to the cold water you add to the cake batter. Let’s talk about this vintage cake recipe!

slice of white cake on a spatula

What you’ll love about this cake:

  • 100% homemade
  • Gorgeous white color
  • Simple sweet vanilla flavor
  • Easy two layer cake for decorating
  • Fluffy 7 minute frosting…or choose your favorite frosting!

What does cold water do for cake?

This is considered a vintage cake recipe. I came across it in a recipe book that was over 50 years old. Many think that cold water was used in place of milk because milk was expensive and scarce.

But here’s my theory. My grandma’s pie crust recipe (and many pastry recipes in general) calls for ice cold water. The purpose is to keep the fats in the recipe as cold as possible so that when the recipe hits the oven the fat melts, leaving pockets of fluffiness.

The same goes for this cake! The ice cold water gives the cake a deliciously light crumb.

How to Make Cold Water Cake

  • Prepare. Grease and flour 2 8″ round cake pans. Or better yet, use our cake release recipe which helps cakes fall out of pans easily. No sticking!Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  • Beat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites with baking powder until stiff peaks form.
  • Mix. In a separate bowl, cream sugar with shortening until smooth. Add cold water, vanilla, flour, and pinch of salt. Mix well. Fold in whipped egg whites gently. Make sure they are completely incorporated.
  • Bake. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake tests done.

Frosting for White Cake

We used a delicious 7 minute frosting for this cake. It’s simple vanilla flavor paired well with the vanilla cake flavor. There are detailed instructions in our 7 minute frosting recipe post if you need more details than what we give below.

spreading frosting on a white cake

Here are other great frosting options:

slice of white cake on a spatula
slice of white cake on a spatula

White Cold Water Cake

5 from 1 vote
A vintage recipe that is a must try! White cold water cake with fluffy 7 minute frosting. Simple flavors, but so so good!
Servings 15
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the cake:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (8 grams)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening*
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1 /2 cups all-purpose flour** (350 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 2 large egg whites (unbeaten)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • cup cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (or 1 teaspoon corn syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Grease and flour 2 8" round cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites with baking powder until stiff peaks form.
  • In a separate bowl, cream sugar with shortening until smooth.
  • Add cold water, vanilla, flour, and pinch of salt. Mix well.
  • Fold in whipped egg whites gently. Make sure they are completely incorporated.
  • Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake tests done.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting:

  • Combine the egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. (Or you can use a heat safe glass bowl.) Mix thoroughly.
  • Boil water a couple inches of water in the bottom of a double boiler over medium heat.
  • Place the top pan over boiling water and beat constantly using a high powered hand mixer until mixture holds a peak. This will take at least 7 minutes. The mixture will get fluffy, bright white and thick.
  • Remove the pan or bowl from the heat. Take the top double boiler (or bowl) off the bottom.
  • Add vanilla and beat again until thick enough to spread.
  • Makes 5-6 cups of frosting.

Assemble the cake:

  • Place one cake layer on a cake plate.
  • Frost with frosting.
  • Place the second cake layer on top.
  • Frost the top and outsides of the cake.
  • Decorate as desired.
  • Store this cake in the refrigerator.

Notes

*You can use butter in place of shortening, but your cake will not be pure white and the crumb will be slightly heavier with butter.
**For a lighter crumb, use cake flour. All purpose will work though!
The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 47g | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 341
Keyword vintage, white cake
slice of cold water cake on a plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use cake flour?

Yes! We recommend using cake flour in this recipe, but realize that many don’t have it. Either will work, but cake flour will give you a more tender crumb.

I don’t like shortening. Do I have to use it?

You can use butter instead, but your cake will not be as white. The cake also might be slightly heavier if you use butter, but the flavor will be good.

Can I use almond flavor?

Yes! Use whatever extract you’d like.

Can I bake this in a 9×13 pan?

Yes. Just watch the baking time as it may take a little longer.

Do you have to refrigerate this cake?

If you use the 7 minute frosting, then yes, this should be refrigerated. if you use a traditional buttercream, then it does not have to be refrigerated.

Does this cake freeze well?

Yes! This cake freezes well in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks.

Other White Cake Recipes

About Julie Clark

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Does this frosting get a thin crisp “shell” after it sits?