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Bone Appetit Dog Biscuits
I never met a dog I didn't like. But recently I met one I can't resist. Her name is Chelsea, and she's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This year, while baking holiday gifts for the people I love, it dawned on me that I'd never baked for an animal. So I searched the pantry for ingredients that would please canines.
My goal was to bake the healthiest, best-tasting dog biscuits. My dilemma was the formula. My research was four-fold: Sniffing out dog owners' favorite recipes; interviewing a cooking teacher who in her past life baked for dogs; reading commercial dog biscuit labels for ingredients; and hounding veterinarians for nutritional advice.
Finally, it was a matter of kitchen testing and dog biscuit-tasting -- peanut butter for flavor; egg as a binder; cereal for texture; powdered milk for nutrition; and garlic for flea prevention -- no salt or cornmeal (salt is not necessary in the diet and cornmeal is difficult to digest). Crispness is a matter of personal preference -- Chelsea prefers them bone dry (baked in a moderately slow oven for up to 3 hours).
Unfortunately just as some people can't eat chocolate, some dogs can't eat eggs. In that case, remove the egg from the ingredient list. After forming the dough, add additional water to make a dough that's just slightly sticky. Bone Appetit!
My Favorite Dog's Favorite Dog Biscuits
makes 3 dozen
People can eat these biscuits too, but the sugarless, salt-free dough is bitter before baking to its toasty-flavored, hard texture which rivals that of bones.
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups multi-grain oatmeal (or old-fashioned oats)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the whole wheat flour, multi-grain oatmeal, wheat germ and powdered milk in a large bowl to blend thoroughly. Blend the water, peanut butter and egg in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add to dry ingredients and stir until well blended. (Dough will be stiff. You might find it easier if you use your hands to knead the mixture together.) Dough will be a little moist and just slightly sticky.
Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thick layer. Cut out biscuit shapes with a 3-inch bone-shaped cookie cutter. Scraps are reusable. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 1 1/2 hours. For crisper, drier biscuits bake an additional hour to an hour and half. Store in an airtight metal container.
Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.