Irene Dunne’s Vinegar Chocolate Cake

In honor of the 2022 Academy Awards, I was invited to participate in Karie Bible’s Hollywood Kitchen Oscar Cook-Along for 2022. This year, the theme was “They SHOULD have won an Oscar…they didn’t…and that stinks!”

For this episode, I baked Irene Dunne‘s vinegar chocolate cake and spoke about her personal and professional accomplishments. While she was nominated for the Oscar on several occasions, she never won. Nevertheless, she was a woman of many talents and one of classic Hollywood’s brightest stars.

I sourced Dunne’s recipe from Silver Screen Suppers–an excellent blog that showcases the recipes of classic Hollywood stars and modernizes them for today’s technologies.

The recipe is as follows–


2 cups brown sugar

¼ cup butter

2 eggs slightly beaten

2 squares bitter chocolate, melted

5 teaspoons vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon soda/bicarbonate of soda (I used baking soda, which calls for three times the amount of what is listed for bicarbonate of soda–so 3 teaspoons of baking soda.)

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups cake flour (I used ordinary plain flour)

1 cup water


Cream sugar and butter thoroughly. Add eggs, melted chocolate, and vinegar, in the order named, stirring constantly. Add a quarter of the flour, into which has been sifted soda and baking powder, then a quarter of the water, then some more flour, water again, alternating in this fashion until all the ingredients have been added to the mixture. Bake in two layers in a moderate oven at about 325 degrees. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any pans for layering the cake, so I went with an 11 x 14-inch pan and greased it, which worked beautifully. I then frosted the cake with milk chocolate and garnished it with shredded coconut flakes. It was delicious and very easy to make. The vinegar addition gave it a slight tanginess but it was not overbearing, as the chocolate and sugar sweeten up the dessert.

View the full episode of Hollywood Kitchen–and my special presentation about Irene Dunne–here:

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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1 Response to Irene Dunne’s Vinegar Chocolate Cake

  1. This looks so delicious, I’m going to have to try it. And I don’t even care for chocolate cake!

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