Week Thirty: Dog Biscuits
Oh, I can’t resist a pun.
What better way to end a week of biscuits than with a treat for those happy little guys who make walking through the door every day such a pleasure? Full disclosure: no, I don’t have a dog. But there are two smiling, fuzzy, gray faces that welcome me every day when I come home, and spoiling them lightly is a chief pleasure of mine. Yes, I’m a cat person, no question; but I understand that there are people who like dogs just as much. To each his own. So for those of you out there who love your puppies as much as I love my kitties, here’s something just for you.
I’m sure a few of you are wondering why on Earth anyone would make their own dog biscuits. After all, they sell them in the store, don’t they? I say, if you’d happily make a special dinner for your human loved ones, why not put out a little extra effort for someone who loves you so much, who just happens to have four legs? And not to lay a guilt trip on anyone, but I suggest you check out the ingredient list on those boxes of national brand dog treats sometime. I’m just saying.
Now, I don’t have a dog to test these out on, Simon up there looked rather disappointed with that plateful of carbohydrates, and Edgar down there just hid, so I can’t vouch for pet approval just yet. But considering that these are made with human-grade foods from my own kitchen, I took it upon myself to taste test.
The biscuits turned into a crunchy, pleasantly grainy cracker-type product, with a nicely balanced taste, punctuated here and there with a bright mint flavor. As far as human snacks go, this is a winner. I would definitely serve these with some hummus for a delightful and easy repast. I’m not sure how typical dog biscuits taste, so I can’t really compare on that level, but I imagine a dog would like these.
Obviously, you can alter the flavor as you like to fit your canine’s preferences. If your dog likes peanut butter or cheese, throw some in. Have some bacon lying about? I’m positive your dog will love it. (It even sounds pretty good to me.) I make no guarantees about how long they will stay good at room temperature with such additions, though; you may want to store those in the refrigerator or freezer in that case.
I suggest, if you try these for humans or dogs, to roll them out rather thickly, about 1/2 inch or so, then cut into however small sizes you like. I happen to have a dog bone cookie cutter, which is on the large side, so I rolled many of mine thinner in an attempt at a reasonable portion. These thinner biscuits, however, ended up puffing and over-browning in the oven, making them look less than appealing (though they tasted fine). I had no such problems with the thicker batch. And remember, there’s no need for any cookie cutters at all; your dog really doesn’t care what shape they are.
Makes about 50 biscuits
4 ounces (about 1 cup) rolled oats
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
9 ounces (2 cups) whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried mint (optional)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 cup water, at room temperature
1. In a food processor, pulse the rolled oats until ground finely. Transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining flours, wheat germ, powdered milk, salt, and mint (if using). Whisk together until blended.
2. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the butter, honey, eggs, and water until blended. Add to the flour mixture, and stir together until a dough forms. Turn out onto an unfloured work surface and knead until smooth (dough should be stiff). Flatten slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325º F. Lightly oil two large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
3. Dust the work surface with whole wheat flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut shapes with a cookie or biscuit cutter, or cut into squares with a pizza cutter or knife. Transfer biscuits to the prepared baking sheets. Gather scraps, knead to combine, and repeat rolling and cutting.
4. Bake the biscuits at 325º F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until browned and thoroughly dried and hard. Let cool on sheets, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
1. You can use fresh mint instead of dried, or substitute parsley. Both will freshen the breath just as well.
2. Feel free to use any mixture of various grains you like, instead of just using wheat flour. The only caveat is that dogs are often allergic to or cannot properly digest corn, so I would warn you against cornmeal. And no chocolate, please! Theobromine and caffeine, found in chocolate, are both highly toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more of both; and the smaller the dog, the greater the effect.