Watergate Bundt Cake – a 1970s recipe – is a pistachio flavored cake with pistachio frosting. Topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries, the colors are perfect for the holidays!
Watergate Bundt Cake is a vintage cake recipe. It comes from my grandmother’s recipe box and I’m pretty sure she made it in the 1970s when the famous Watergate scandal was happening.
What is Watergate Bundt Cake?
There are several different stories as to the origin of the name. Some say that it was originally a salad which was created by a chef at the Watergate Hotel. Others say it was named Watergate Cake because of the scandal (the cake has a ‘cover-up’ icing and is full of nuts) and satirically named recipes were a trend at the time.
The only thing I’m sure of is that my grandmother really, really liked this recipe. She wrote it on THREE different recipe cards and she wrote it in green ink which I thought was so cute! She even says on the card that it’s, “yummy!” And I agree with her!
Her handwriting was very distinctive and also hard to read. That’s because she injured her finger as a child. Her index finger got caught in a fan and when it healed, she couldn’t bend it anymore. It was always straight which made writing a little difficult. But she could still play the piano beautifully. And the organ too! (Scroll to bottom of post to see a photo of my grandmother – Dorothy – and I.)
Ingredients you need for Watergate Bundt Cake
Cake mix – You’ll need one white cake mix (about 18.25 ounces)
Club soda – Room temperature.
Oil – Vegetable oil or your favorite type of oil with a mild flavor.
Eggs – Use large eggs at room temperature.
Pistachio instant pudding mix – You will need two 3.4 ounce packages for this recipe.
Whole Milk – It should be very cold.
Dream Whip – This is a powdered whipped topping mix which is available on the pudding aisle of your grocer.
Cool Whip or Whipped Cream
How to make Watergate Bundt Cake
Note: This is just an overview. Scroll down for complete recipe.
- In a large bowl, add the white cake mix, club soda, eggs, oil, pistachio pudding mix and nuts. Mix until smooth.
- Pour into Bundt pan that has been greased generously with vegetable shortening.
- Bake the cake according to package instructions.
- I baked mine at 350°F. for 45 minutes.
How to make the Pistachio Frosting
- Combine Dream Whip, pistachio pudding mix and milk in a large bowl.
- Beat on medium high with an electric mixer until thickened.
Frost cooled cake, then pipe Cool Whip or whipped cream on top.
Add cherries for a pop of color. This step wasn’t in the original recipe, but I thought it was pretty.
Slice and enjoy. I brought this cake to a dinner party and EVERYONE loved it! Such a YUMMY cake! My grandmother wasn’t kidding when she said that! I love this cake!
Here’s my grandmother and I. She was a piano teacher and loved giving me a lesson when she would visit. We lived in Tallahassee, FL and she was two hours away in Ozark, AL. She passed away in 1987 and I really miss her. Such a sweet and talented lady. I love that she’s wearing a pistachio colored outfit in this photo.
p.s. Can you see the John Denver album cover in the background of this photo? He’s still one of my favorites.
Tools for success
Note: The above items are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Want even more? Subscribe to Mom Loves Baking to get new recipes and a newsletter delivered to your inbox. And stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for all my latest updates. If you make this recipe, share a photo on social media tagging @momlovesbaking and using the hashtag #momlovesbaking.
Watergate Bundt Cake
For the cake
- 1 package white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker - 18.25 oz.)
- 1 cup club soda
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 of a 3.4 oz package of pistachio flavored instant pudding mix (reserve the other half for frosting)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the frosting
- 1 envelope Dream Whip (from a 2.6 oz package which includes 2 envelopes)
- 1 1/2 packages of pistachio flavored instant pudding mix (use the 3.4 oz packages)
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, cold
For the topping
- 2 cups Cool Whip or whipped cream
- 8 Maraschino cherries
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a Bundt pan generously with vegetable shortening. Set aside.
- Place all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on low until combined, then turn up to medium high and beat for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool.
For the frosting
- Meanwhile, prepare frosting. Add frosting ingredients to a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on medium high until thickened. Spread onto cooled cake. Garnish with Cool Whip or whipped cream and cherries. If desired, place Cool Whip in a pastry bag fitted with a 1M pastry tip to pipe onto cake. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You might also like…
Recipe featured on Meal Plan Monday #57 by The Southern Plate.
All text and images © Lise Ode for Mom Loves Baking. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate. This post may contain affiliate links.