Harry Matsuno fills the center of his bundt cakes with butter-glazed walnuts.

Businessman Harry
Matsuno’s unusual
passion takes the cake

By Betty Shimabukuro

Rum has overtaken Harry Matsuno's life. This would be a bad thing if he were drinking it, but he's pouring it into bundt cakes that he gives away, thereby spreading the joy of rum to the world.

"You are the recipient of Rum Cake No. 279 for the year 2002," read a card delivered with a cake last Wednesday.

Given that last Wednesday was the 226th day of the year, you figure the man is averaging more than a cake a day. And that's just until the holiday season, when Matsuno's baking kicks into overdrive.

Last year at Christmas, Matsuno baked 80 rum cakes. They went two at a time into his oven and while each pair was baking, he was getting two more ready. Some weekends, he'd do 24, right there in his home kitchen, using the same recipe and the same four bundt pans he's used for about 20 years.

Matsuno is well on pace to meet his goal for this year: "I'm shooting for 500."

So who is this guy with this obsessive baking hobby?

Matsuno is president of Safeguard Services, which provides security guards for such properties as Bank of Hawaii and the Pearl Highlands and Waikele shopping centers. The company, formed after Matsuno retired from the Army, is 20 years old and employs 600 guards.

He started out baking for family and friends at Christmas, using a friend's recipe that he adapted. Then, he thought, "Why just holidays? I hadn't heard anything about restrictions."

Rum cakes became a year-round concern, baked for clients as thank-you gifts.

He buys light rum in half-gallon bottles at Costco, and keeps his cupboard stocked with yellow cake mix and instant vanilla pudding -- the main building blocks of his recipe.

So, now we understand what Matsuno does and how. But ...

"Why? That's a good question. My wife said, 'Do the cakes do any good for you?' I said, 'They don't do any harm.' She didn't say anything after that."

Harry's Famous Rum Cake

12 walnut halves, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup rum
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large box instant vanilla instant pudding
1 box yellow cake mix (preferably Duncan Hines)
>> Glaze and glazed nuts:
1 stick butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup rum
2 cups walnuts or almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a bundt cake pan with cooking oil spray. Arrange nuts evenly in bottom of pan.

Combine water, oil, rum, eggs and vanilla. Stir in pudding mix, then cake mix. Mix all ingredients and pour into bundt pan.

Bake 55 minutes to one hour.

Meanwhile, make glaze: In saucepan, melt butter, then add sugar. Stir while bringing mixture to a boil. Add rum. Continue to boil, depending on how much alcohol you want burned off. All the alcohol will burn off in 2 minutes.

Remove cake from oven. Pour 1/2 of glaze into the edges of the pan and let it soak in for a few minutes.

Invert pan onto plate and remove cake. Spoon 1/2 of remaining glaze over cake.

Stir the walnuts or almonds into the remaining glaze until well-coated. Spoon glazed nuts into middle of cake.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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