This was perfect.  Am I allowed to say that about a cake I made myself?  I have Irene to thank for it of course, as her recipe is ace.  But I have made this quite a few times now and this time was the best.  I’m going to be a proper person, and write down exactly how I did it so that hopefully, if you make it, it will turn out perfectly for you too.

This is almost like chocolate mousse in a cake form, the texture is so good…  I’m guessing there is some reaction between the vinegar, the baking soda and the baking powder which makes it so…


As I was making in the morning before work this to celebrate my lovely colleague Obi’s 10 years at AP Archive, I did something very sensible.  I weighed out all the ingredients the night before, so I was ready to go, bleary eyed, in the wee small hours.

For the chocolate I used my great new discovery:


I let out an audible SQUEAK when I found this in Planet Organic in Muswell Hill because I was so excited.  Recently, I have been like a small child visiting every corner shop in London, searching for Green & Black’s Espresso, as if they were giving away a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket or something.  It seems as though this has been discontinued.  I haven’t seen it for months now.  But now, I need search no more.  The Go*Do Espresso chocolate was perfect for Irene’s cake.  Two little 35g bars more than do the trick.  I must have these about my person at all times, for cake making purposes.  Yum yum.


Irene Dunne’s Vinegar Chocolate Cake

400g / 2 cups brown sugar

60g / ¼ cup butter

2 eggs slightly beaten

56g / 2 squares bitter chocolate, melted

5 teaspoons vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)

1 teaspoon soda / bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

260g / 2 cups cake flour (I used ordinary plain flour)

235ml / 1 cup water

Cream sugar and butter thoroughly.  Add eggs, melted chocolate and vinegar, in the order named, stirring constantly.  Add quarter of the flour, into which has been sifted soda and baking powder, then 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 about 325 degrees F / 160 degrees C / gas mark 3. Any favourite icing may be used.

  • I used two springform cake tins that are 7.5 inches wide.
  • I used butter to grease the sides and bottoms of the tin.  Next time I will line the bottoms of the tin with buttered greaseproof paper, the sides were fine, but the bottoms did stick a tiny bit.
  • I baked my cake for 35 minutes on the middle shelf but I recommend checking after about 30 minutes, as all ovens are different.  I do the press test like my mum showed me.  Press the middle of the cake, if sponge springs back, it’s done.  If you make a dent in it, put it back in!
  • If you have a fan oven you may wish to bake the cake at a lower temperature – maybe 140?  I don’t have a fan oven (much to my annoyance) so here’s where mine was set:


  • I now always use the cup measurements when making this cake as it makes life easier than weighing everything as we Brits normally do.  The gram measurements have been gleaned from the internet so the next time I make this cake, I vow to weigh all the ingredients to double check they are correct. (ha ha – I see I said this the time before last when I made it too – will do next time, promise!)
  • If you don’t have a set of cup measures, I highly recommend having some!
  • I usually put jam in the middle of this cake rather than icing as I’m usually making it before work, so the jam saves time. 

Thanks Irene, your cake is the best.

Irene Dunne

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