I've been a Roe Conn fan since 1996, when I stumbled upon his daily drive-time talk show on Chicago's WLS AM 890 ("The big 89!"). Back when my dad drove a car equipped with what many would describe as A Tractor Radio, we listened to Larry "Uncle Lar" Lujack in the morning on the way to school. I also enjoyed WLS' rock music at night in the car--there's something romantic about the static and outer space sounds that filter through the airwaves between Chicago and downstate Illinois.
Anyway, as time passed WLS changed to a news-talk format, and Roe Conn was this young, hilarious, brilliant guy I discovered during the heady days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I've listened to him ever since on my drives home from school and consider him to be one of the world's few perfect men. Seriously, I've caught myself laughing my head off and pointing at my car's radio saying, "Roe Conn, you are a perfect man!"
I can't remember when it started, but during Roe's 3:00 to 3:30 segment, ABC 7 news personality Ron Magers sits down with Roe to talk about current events and whatever is going on in Ron's head on any given day. Ron seems like a nice man, and he's obviously smart enough to have landed and held onto the title of Chicago News Kingpin for years. But he's no Roe, and if I wanted to I could easily devise a Ron Magers drinking game. Examples: take a drink when Ron starts talking in verbose lists ("we asked the police, we asked the mayor's office, we asked the board of education, we asked the students..."), or when he's discussing air travel woes, horse racing, his boyhood in Alaska, "inside baseball" anecdotes about broadcast news; and just little stuff like the way he pronounces "business" as "bizznizz"...all of those things would get you a drink, which is kind of ironic because Ron is a former alcoholic, and obviously when he talks about alcoholism, that'd be another drink too. (I don't drink, so I would not be participating in this game.)
But!--and that is a trademark Roe interjection--several years ago Ron started talking about something called "flan cake," and it was a life-changer. I can't remember where Ron got this recipe, but he described it as an incredibly moist chocolate bundt cake topped with a fabulous layer of flan and caramel sauce, and there was a certain amount of culinary hocus-pocus involving a secret ingredient. I think Ron spent an entire segment talking about this cake, and as I recall Roe and Ron ate an actual flan cake and discussed it with callers the following couple of days after WLS posted the recipe on their website. People went so crazy for this cake that there was a brief caramel sauce shortage in Chicagoland grocery stores. So of course I had to try it, and the cake was so wonderful that later on I made it as a backup dessert for our rehearsal dinner (Jeff and I did all the cooking for that one). And Jeff's side of the family and I ate it again today for our Christmas dessert. If you've got a bundt pan that you never use and a roasting pan big enough to hold it, won't you please join me in the miracle that is Ron Magers' flan cake? My notes are in italics.
- Devil's Food cake mix (Duncan Hines preferred)
- ingredients called for on the cake mix box (3 eggs, 1/2 C veg. oil)
- 1 can Coke <-- 12 oz., i.e. not an entire big bottle-looking thing of Coke, and not Diet Coke either, I'm pretty sure
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 T vanilla
- 1 bottle Cajeta (Mexican caramel or a regular caramel sauce)
Heat oven to 350.
Follow instructions to make the cake but use the can of Coke instead of water. Set cake mix aside and make the flan.
Put the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, 3 eggs, and vanilla into a blender and mix well.
Spray the bundt pan with Pam and cover the bottom with caramel. Do not feel like you have to use the entire bottle. I generally stop pouring once I hit the point that I'd need to use a spatula to get the rest out. You do not need to use up every speck of that caramel.
Pour cake mix into bundt pan.
Pour the flan mix gently down one side of the pan. The flan will go to the bottom and the cake mix will raise up a bit as the flan mixture fills the bottom of the pan. This is a pretty cool sight to behold. Do not panic if the flan-sinking doesn't happen all at once; it will happen eventually. And you might see a few dribbles of the flan stubbornly staying at the top. That is not a big deal; just leave it there.
Set the bundt pan in a larger pan or tray with water. You are creating a double boiler (actually I believe the term is bain-marie) but you need only a couple of inches of water. How about this? Put the bundt pan in the roasting pan (or whatever) first, fill it with the cake components, and then add your water. Less sloshing around that way.
Put it all in the oven and it will bake for at least 45 minutes and as much as an hour. The timing here is kind of tricky. I've been tempted to take the cake out too quickly, like at 40 minutes because the top looked done, and the cake has flopped on me. But I've left it in for an hour and the top became a little too dark. So something like 50-55 minutes seems reasonable here.
Check the cake done-ness with a toothpick. The cake will stay more moist than most cakes you've ever made and you will see it separate a bit from the pan when it's done. Be careful taking it out of the oven, by the way! I just let it sit in its water bath until things have cooled down a bit, but if your cake is on the verge of being too done, take it out sooner rather than later.
Let it cool and refrigerate for several hours.
Take it out two hours before you plan to serve. Not important, unless you like room-temperature cake. Turn the bundt pan over on a large plate/platter/cake stand and let it sit while warming to room temperature.
The bundt pan should then lift off to reveal a layer of flan (you may even be lucky enough to hear the awesome plopping sound when the cake drops down!), topped with caramel sitting atop a very moist chocolate cake.