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 powder, which calls for three times the amount of what is listed for bicarbonate of soda–so 3 teaspoons of baking powder.)

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: