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Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
My name is Lily Ward. I am 20 years old and a sophomore at Utah State University. I was born and raised in Logan, Utah. My family in unlike the majority of Utahan families. Both my parents grew up in Bountiful, Utah and moved here as young adults. My parents became inactive when they were sixteen—thus, I was not raised L.D.S. Being from a non-religious nuclear family, I find the idea of rum cake in my extended family to be humorous.
Peter Coats and his wife Cathy got married young in Salt Lake City, Utah. After several years of marriage and three kids later, they tragically split. Being in the early 1900s and belonging to the LDS religion, this raised some concern and disgust. During their marriage, Cathy loved to cook and specifically bake. One of her most liked recipes was Rum Cake. She shared this recipe with her sister in law Berlene Ward. Berlene often made this cake to celebrate birthdays, gatherings, and holidays. Since many of our family members enjoyed this recipe, she shared it amongst my immediate family and my extended family members. My father grew up having this cake every holiday, most birthdays, and for special gatherings. He has shared this tradition with my sister and me. The recipe originated from an LDS family that generally wouldn’t have alcohol in the house. Members of the L.D.S church do not believe in partaking of alcohol. Because of this, many relatives of mine try to “alter” the recipe. There was (and still is) some debate within the family because scientifically if you boil alcohol, the alcohol gets boiled out. However, the cake itself also calls for rum. That is, you could boil out the alcohol in the glaze, but not in the actual cake mix. When LDS family members try to make the cake without rum they typically have no success. To this day, my family and I still enjoy this recipe and often times put it in the oven to heat up the morning after the celebration. “Once it is burnt slightly, that’s when you know it’s the best,” states Michael, my father.
See attached image
1 Yellow Cake Mix
½ Cup Oil
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Rum
1 Stick Butter (½ cup)
1 Cup White Sugar
¼ Cup Water
¼ Cup Rum
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Grease bunt pan.
- Beat cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and ½ cup rum together and pour batter in bunt pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean after poking cake.
- Combine butter, sugar, water, and ¼ cup rum in medium-sized saucepan.
- Once butter is melted, boil ingredients for 5 minutes.
- Poke several holes in the top with a fork or toothpick.
- Pour ½ of the glaze on top of cake, focusing specifically on the holes (this will allow the glaze to seep through the cake)
- Turn cake upside down on plate.
- Once cake is on the plate, pour the rest of the glaze over the entire cake.
The memories I have of rum cake remain fond. Not only is it scrumptious, but it has a personal significance. Since my immediate family is nonreligious and doesn’t place an unholy perception of those who consume alcohol, I find it humorous that so many of my relatives try to replace the rum with extract yet have no success. When needing to bake a cake for an event, holiday, or birthday I tend to make rum cake. I find the process to be relatively easy, it doesn’t take too long, it’s delicious, and well liked. When discussing ease, I am specifically referencing the ingredients and instructions. Most of the ingredients come premeasured, making the hands-on process straight forward. Once it comes time to take the cake out, it typically seems that the cake is pretty lenient. If it is slightly over or undercooked, it is just as tasty!
Dr. Lynne S McNeill
Semester and year
G1: Groups/Social Customs
Ward, Lily, "Rum Cake" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 438.
Additional FilesRum Cake.jpg (67 kB)