For this islander, making a decadent rum and pecan cake stirs sweet memories
Islander Karen Alberstadt is known for a decadent rum and pecan cake that was her grandmother’s recipe. It’s a real party pleaser. And best of all, it takes minimal effort.
“My grandmother would make this cake for us every time we visited,” Alberstadt said. “We called her Nanoo, so it is Nanoo’s Rum Cake. I can remember the first time I ate it as a child it felt so naughty, but of course the alcohol is all cooked out, so it is fine for children to eat.”
Friends and neighbors always request this cake, which has become a go-to for parties or other special events. Alberstadt usually cooks everything from scratch and is “snobby” about cooking from boxes, she said. But this recipe uses both a cake and pudding mix for a moister dessert. Making it always reminds Alberstadt of her grandmother, who taught her how to cook and was known for her flair in cooking beef, she said.
“Family recipes are so important to me, and I’ve collected many over the years,” she said. “We lived in Houston before we moved to Galveston, and our house flooded in Harvey. I have my family recipes on cards and papers, and they were one of the first things I saved from the floodwaters.”
Passing on family recipes is important to Alberstadt. Her son Chip is studying chemical engineering at Texas A&M University and in his first year of college, he asked for her help to make sure he ate there as well as he did at home.
“I would call him each week and tell him what food he needed for the recipe,” she said. “Then, I would email the recipe and talk him through how to cook it. He was sharing a kitchen and didn’t have much time, so we focused on one-pot meals and other dishes that were easy to make.”
That Christmas, she was touched when Chip presented her with a cookbook of all the recipes she had recommended.
Alberstadt worked as a physician’s assistant for many years. She originally wanted to study fitness instruction and kinesiology at the University of Houston, but those qualifications weren’t available at that time. Instead, she is a qualified dietitian who has an undergraduate degree in food science and a master qualification in nutrition.
Eating healthy remains important to Alberstadt, who grows her own herbs and likes the fresh flavors of Italian and Mexican cuisine.
“I think a healthy diet is one that is low-fat and balanced with lots of fruit and vegetables, but I also think it’s unhealthy to only eat one type of food or to rule out whole groups of foods altogether,” she said.
She jokes that people don’t have to worry about eating her signature vanilla and pecan-flavored cake with its rum-sugar glaze because it’s dietitian approved.
Nanoo’s Rum Cake
1 cup pecan halves
1 box Butter Golden Cake Mix (Alberstadt uses Duncan Hines)
1 box 6-serving French vanilla instant pudding
4 whole eggs
½ cup rum
½ cup water
½ cup canola oil
For the glaze:
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup rum
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour Bundt cake pan.
Sprinkle pecans into the pan.
Mix together cake mix, pudding, eggs, rum, water and oil. Pour into cake pan over pecans and bake for 55-60 minutes.
Combine sugar, butter, water and rum in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Drizzle over warm cake.
Let cool completely.