By request (by the birthday boy himself) I made Obi an Irene Dunne’s Vinegar Chocolate Cake for his big day at work.

As usual, it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it.  I wish, I wish, I wish, that I made real, proper, testing, testing, testing notes each time I cooked things.  Then I could make things EXACTLY AS THEY WERE the best time.  Curses.

So for the record.  The recipe follows at the end of this post.  And why do I think the first time was better?  Maybe because I used red wine vinegar rather than cider vinegar?  (This is just a guess because I can’t actually remember) or maybe because I was more awake the last time I made it and didn’t forget about the final ¼ cup of water until the mixture was already in the cake tins? I had to add it and attempt to mix it up in situ.  Some of it dribbled out (I use springform tins) so the cake probably wasn’t exactly the right consistency.  I think I might have baked it for longer last time too.  Gadzooks.  I must write EVERYTHING DOWN!

But what I can categorically say is this.  Even when you have a delightful gentleman caller fast asleep in your cosy bed, it is still possible to get up at 6.30am and have this in the cake carrier to take to work at 8.30am.

Irene says: “Here’s a truly unusual chocolate cake, guaranteed to bring cries of “More, More” from the family or friends.”

400g / 2 cups brown sugar

60g / ¼ cup butter

5 teaspoons vinegar

1 teaspoon soda

235ml / 1 cup water

½ teaspoon tartrate baking powder

2 eggs slightly beaten

56g / 2 squares bitter chocolate

260g / 2 cups cake flour*

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.

  • It’s difficult to get cake flour in the UK, so I just used plain flour.  I always use Green & Black’s Espresso Chocolate for chocolate cakes and chocolate mousse because I just love it and I think it gives some extra oomph somehow.

I baked mine at 150 degrees C for 35 minutes (I have a fan oven so bake at a lower temperature) – I reckon it could have done with 5 more minutes.

For Obi I filled the cake with home made strawberry jam and Betty Crocker’s ready made vanilla icing – sometimes you gotta cheat!

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