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Baking For my Dogs – How to Make Carrot, Oats and Coconut Dog Biscuits

Over the last year I’ve been experimenting with baking and trying my hand out at the oven. Some recipes that turned out well I’ve shared like pizzas, sponge cake, … but some I’m still figuring out. Need to get that Rum Rich Plum Cake recipe down to pat.

Anyway, a downside to all that wonderfully smelling baking was the dogs giving me doleful looks and I feeling all guilty for withholding that piece of cake. So I figured I’d make them something that they can eat. Yep, I thought it was that simple.

Online research found me some quick and easy recipes but it also brought up questions like – is flour(maida) good for dogs?, what could I substitute for flour?, how could I make healthy treats?,… This took me more time to figure out. After a fair bit of reading and talking to various people, here’s what I found out.

Plain Flour(maida) is bad for dogs and best not given. It can be substituted with whole wheat flour, however some dogs are allergic to gluten (and it seems the number are rising) so you need to try it out and see how your dogs fair.

Another option is coconut flour. Until recently I had heard only good things about coconut products for dogs (google coconut flour for dogs), however recently I heard of one Vet who said it’s not good for dogs. My vet though says it’s good. So well, you figure.

From what I read though coconut products seem to be working wonders in most dogs. My Cuckoo loves coconut, (you should see her excitement when she hears us breaking them) and she’s not had an issue with it yet. Of course I give it moderate amounts. That said, getting coconut flour wasn’t easy and I’d been hunting for it until Vidya tipped me off about Heather’s Coconut Flour recipe. That one was easy to make at home but I didn’t get much flour out of it.

The last option as of now that I’ve found is oats. Oats come in various forms like rolled oats, quick oats and instant oats. According to the book ‘On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen‘ by Harold McGee the main difference between the types of oats is their texture, thickness and cooking times. They can usually be substituted for each other as all oats have the same nutritional value.

Each type of flour also has it’s own unique properties, oat flour contains an essential fatty acid GLA (gamma linolenic acid) that’s important in the body’s production of favourable eicosanoids (PGE1 – prostaglandins). Oats is also proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease. Coconut flour on the other hand is a good source of protein, iron, fiber and it is ‘low-carb’. Coconut also contains the fatty acid Lauric acid, which boosts the response of the immune system in the body.

Something to keep in mind for all substitutions is that each flour has different properties and so the quantities you need will vary and cooking times will change. You’ll have to try and test your way to the right proportions. Also some flours don’t work all by themselves, like oats used alone will not hold together and rise well so it’s best to use it in combination with other flours.

If you’d like to read more about flours and dogs, Susan Leisure’s article ‘What Type of Flour Is Good for Dogs?‘ is a good start point.

After all that research and figuring out, I went hunting for recipes that had coconut flour and oats. I decided to start out with The Fonte’s Paleo Dog Biscuits Recipe with Carrots & Coconut,  but I found a few others too that I liked and pinned for later.

I made some changes to the original and added oats, here’s my take on it.

How to Make Carrot, Oats and Coconut Dog Biscuits

Ingredients –
(makes around 200 gms)

225 grams crudely chopped carrots
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coarsely ground oats
1/4 cup fresh coconut
2 eggs
Coconut oil

Method –

1. Preheat oven to 175 C.

2. Grind the coconut and carrot to a smooth paste.

3. In a bowl mix the paste, oats and coconut flour well.

4. Add eggs to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.

5. Pour the mix into a piping bag. (I improvised with a washed milk packet)

6. Prepare a tray with greased butter paper. (Best to use coconut oil for this if you have it, else use sesame or olive oil)

7. Pipe little blobs onto the tray keeping enough distance between the biscuits. The size of the biscuit is up to you. I wanted them small as that way I can use more of them while training without giving the dogs too much of it.

8. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops get golden brown.

9. Remove and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

10. Remove the lil cookies from the paper and store in an air tight jar.

Note: I did try to make them crunchy by drying them out as much as possible but they just got soft again. I think it might have to do with the egg but I’m not sure. Do you know?

My dogs loved the cookies and they are working like a charm while training. They’re depleting fast too, which might not be a bad thing considering that I don’t know how long biscuits with eggs last outside of a fridge.

Update: The biscuits/cookies lasted about a week in an air-tight jar before I started to see fungal growth. Storing them in the fridge is one thing I can do to make them last longer. Anything else you’d suggest?

Have you baked for your dogs? What’s your take on coconut flour and oats? Any favourite recipes I should try?

August 19, 2013   No Comments

How to Make Benne Biscuit or Butter Biscuit

A couple of weeks back I got the recipe to make Benne Biscuit or Butter Biscuit from a friend but something kept coming up and I just couldn’t get any baking done. Couple of days back though I got my fix with a full day of baking. I baked over 100 biscuits (Mom was having a family lunch and wanted some for tea) and even managed to bake some cookies for the dogs. 😀

The biscuits turned out beautifully and everyone loved them. (Thanks @Kavitz for the recipe.) The recipe’s easy to follow and the biscuit dough is quick to make, of course baking takes ages but when something good is baking, it always feels like that, doesn’t it 😛 The biscuits also have besan and sooji in them and that makes for less maida which I really like, as it makes the biscuits more healthy.

Alright, a quick note before I get to the recipe. Below is Kavitha’s recipe but I’ve played and tweaked with the method a bit so, if you get good results it’s Kavitz’s doing and if not, it’s mine 🙂 Well, not really, maybe bad biscuits just means you need to try again 😛

Benne or Butter Biscuit

Ingredients –
(Makes around 20-24 biscuits)

1/2 cup or 115 gms butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (based on your sweet tooth)
1/3 cup maida (all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup fine rava (sooji, semolina)
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/4 tsp baking powder
Optional: Add 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Dry fruits like almonds, cashew, pista, walnut, raisins, etc.

Method:

1. Lightly roast the rava on a small/medium flame until it changes colour to off-white.

2. Crush or grind the sugar to get a mix of powder and crushed crystals. A baker once told me the secret to sugar in baking was adding it as crystals to butter and letting them melt while baking to add air to the biscuit or cake. However the regular sugar I get from the shop has big crystals that do not breakdown in the butter creaming process or fully melt in the baking so I crush them. If you’re using ‘Parry’s’ sugar crushing may not be required as the crystals are already small.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

4. Cream the butter a bit in a bowl before adding the crushed sugar. Continue creaming until the butter lightens to lemon yellow and gives off this lovely buttery smell. 🙂 For biscuits I usually cream by hand and that means a good 20 minutes of creaming so I take breaks and do it in four parts or more. 😛

5. In another bowl add the maida, besan, rava and baking powder (and cardamom if you wish). Mix them well to get a uniform mixture.

6. Add the flour mix to the creamed butter and knead to make a soft dough.

7. Prepare a baking tray lined with greased baking paper.

8. Make little patties out of the dough. I used a 1/2 tsp measure to get similar sized biscuits. Roll and slightly flatten the balls before placing them on the tray.

9. I didn’t land up using dry fruits but at this point you can add shredded dry fruits to the top of the patties. Push them half into the biscuit to make sure they don’t burn at the top.

10. Bake the biscuits for about 13-15 minutes. If you like your biscuits being a bit moist in the center, remove them from the oven when golden. If you like them dry and crisp leave them in a minute extra so they get a touch of brown before you remove them.

11. Allow them to cool on a wire rack and then eat to your hearts content 🙂

I’m always on the look out for healthy biscuits; that way I don’t have to worry too much about Che’s middle of the night binges. Have you made any healthy biscuits lately? Any biscuits that I must try baking? Any suggestions at all? 🙂

August 18, 2013   No Comments