Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The making, baking and enthusiastic masticating of Sofi's dog-friendly birthday cake

dog friendly cake
Sofi's dog-friendly birthday cake.
Sofi is a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She’s a patient, a friend and a well-loved member of her family.

But first, a necessary and serious discussion about cakes and dogs.

Birthday cakes are one of those human inventions we like to share with our nearest and dearest, including our non-human companions. The problem is that cakes often contain substances that are toxic to dogs (chocolate and cocoa products, grapes, sultanas and even the artificial sweetener xylitol) and can be fatal.

Some may argue that feeding cake to dog is a dangerous, ignorant expression of reckless anthropomorphism-cum-anthropocentrism. That may be the case if you allow your hound to tuck into a black forest cake or fruit loaf.

But I say there is a middle ground. It is possible to create a cake for dogs which doesn’t contain toxic ingredients or make them unwell. Emma and Alice did just that for Sofi’s birthday party.


This recipe contains ingredients which render it unsuitable for dogs which require a low fat diet, have a history of pancreatitis or dogs who are on an elimination diet. It should be eaten in moderation and served responsibly (one small slice per dog at a time). Any variation from the normal diet may cause gastrointestinal upsets in some dogs.

Another warning: this is an undertaking which may result in kitchen carnage. Not recommended for the domestically disinclined.

Your sink might look like this after baking this
outstanding cake. Don't say we didn't warn you!
The recipe is adapted from two recipes in Nibble Munch Chomp: The Art and Science ofFeeding Your Pet, a beautiful book by Lortsmith Animal Hospital veterinarian Sasha Herbert.

Ingredients used by Emma and Alice
500g LEAN minced beef
8 eggs
1 cup oatmeal
½ cup dry biscuit crumbs
Leftover tuna pasta

6 mashed potatoes (boiled in chicken stock to make extra tasty)
A tiny dash of cream (maybe one tablespoon; you could also use natural yoghurt)
A sprinkle of parmesan cheese

2 liver treats broken into pieces
Peas (also boiled in chicken stock)
Corn kernals
Cabinossi slices
Sausage slices
Dog biscuits

To bake the cake
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Blend mince, eggs, oatmeal, leftover tuna pasta and biscuit crumbs until smooth
Blend it like this...
Then in goes the tuna pasta...
And into a cake tin like so. Note bowl licking opportunities...
Grease cake tin with margarine and pour mixture in
Bake for 25-30 minutes
Allow to cool then invert onto serving platter.

While that is baking you can be working on the icing (hey, cake baking isn't for loafers).

Boil the tateys in chicken stock to add flavour.
Put potatoes on to boil then mash, adding the tiniest dash of cream (eg 1 tbsp per 6 huge potatoes)

The cake cools while the vegies cook.
Spead over the cake (nb Emma and Alice ultimately ended up massaging the icing on with their hands).

Toppings: place artistically as per the first photo.

Do not leave this cake unattended. Whilst it might confuse any human guests who wander through your kitchen, it emits that cabanossi-potato-mince-liver treat smell that effectively begs dogs to come and snaffle it off your bench.
When serving cut into small slivers and feed strategically to avoid any food aggression.

You might want to sing Happy Birthday to the dog of honour first. The smell of the cake has piqued Sofi's interest.
Boo and Sofi chow down on the birthday cake.
Meanwhile Louli washes her slice down with a cup of water. (Louli drinks like this when she's out and about, and doesn't mind a glass of water at home either!)
Dog treats and cakes should be placed in an area separate to human treats and cakes. Sofi’s birthday party was held at a fenced in park (the Enmore TAFE dog park) which meant that dog treats could be dispensed from within the park, whereas the human food could be neatly served over the fence. This meant that the human guests could enjoy Emma’s mind-blowing chocolate cheesecakes and kid snacks without worrying that dogs would tuck into them.
Emily, Alice and Jas are keeping the chocolate cheesecakes and kid snacks safely out of reach of the canine guests. The snacks are also helpfully labeled lest unwitting human guests pick up the wrong treats.

I can honestly say it was one of the best parties I've ever been to. The canine joy was palpable. 

This Airedale was angling for seconds!!!

Thank you to Emma and Alice for sharing your cake-baking tips with us and for your awesome photographic record of the process.