Watergate Cake: Recipe of the Week


Favorite Holiday Dessert, Watergate Cake

Have you ever heard of Watergate cake? To those who were baking (or eating) age in the 1970s, this pistachio-pudding-mix-packed cake may sound familiar. Why call it Watergate? Turns out, it was the product of fortuitous timing. The late 1960s and early 70s was an era during which cakes made with pudding mix reigned. Who knew? Not me, until I did a little research. Try googling “Better than Sex Cake” or “Sock It to Me Cake”; they’re not as dramatic as they sound, but are known to be quite tasty.


After the Watergate scandal broke, there was a surge of interest in all things Nixon. Turns out, pistachio was a favorite flavor of his and all sorts of pistachio-flavored treats proliferated and were dubbed “Watergate”. This particular cake was said to be "full of nuts," and had "cover-up frosting." HAHA

You’ll probably be surprised that this cake’s somewhat unsophisticated ingredients are legitimately tasty! This cake recipe uses pistachio pudding mix in both the batter and frosting for a delicious take on Watergate salad. My mother-in-law’s recipe varies a little bit from other recipes I’ve seen online. Some recipes call for butter vs. oil; lemon-lime soda vs. club soda; whipped cream vs. cream cheese; and toppings can certainly vary based on your preferences. Feel free to change it up a bit and get creative!


1 package white cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix (Jell-O)
1 cup Canola oil
3 eggs
½ c. chopped pecans
1 c. club soda

Combine all the ingredients and beat 4 minutes at medium speed. Bake in a greased and floured 10” tube pan for 40 – 45 minutes or more at 350°.


Cream Cheese Frosting:

Yields: 4 cups

¾ c. butter or margarine, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix (Jell-O)

Beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and pistachio pudding mix; beat until smooth.

Once the cake and frosting are at room temperature, apply the frosting with an offset spatula. Garnish the cake with chopped pistachios or decorative flowers and ivy (optional) for a festive look.

*** The biggest mistake you can make when frosting your cake is using a hot cake and cold frosting. If your cake is even slightly warm, it will melt the icing which will then run over the edges, making it a soggy mess. Further, if you use cold frosting it won’t be smooth enough to spread and will bring up a lot of crumbs. Always wait for both your cake and your frosting to reach room temperature. This may take several hours of waiting, but is necessary for a completely smooth cover of frosting.




Meet The Author

Contributing Writer

Dorothy is a #fitover40 mom who loves spending time with her hubs and Mini-me as much as possible! She also loves all things Tony Horton, weightlifting, and most recently, boxing! She has successfully completed 10 Beachbody programs and believes in the success of the products so strongly, she became a health and fitness life coach in February 2015 to help others on their journey. Dorothy is an exceptional #MOMpreneur, in that she owns a second business as well! Dorothy Buchanan Photography

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