Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Baking: From the Heart

Over the weekend Cramps turned to me and said to “you’ll never really understand love until you get a bulldog, will you?” To which I had to totally agree.

Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t have children, so we’re not experts on unconditional love but we’ve both had other dog breeds before and stand by the fact that nothing can prepare you for the love (hair, puddles of wee, poo, ruined rugs…) that a bulldog brings to your life. We didn’t take the decision to get a puppy lightly. Our research told us the breed was fairly low maintenance in regards to exercise but needed a lot of love. They could be stubborn but were very loyal and affectionate. It seemed a great fit for our lifestyle. We had both been totally won over by the bags of character the breed have, a quick search on YouTube and you’ve got more hilarious videos of bulldogs than you can shake a stick at.

Part of their charm is their tough appearance that melts away in an instant! In fact I would say Benson is the soppiest dog I have ever met.  This is a dog who despite getting on for 25kg feels climbing onto your lap for a cuddle is a totally appropriate thing to do.  He will sit on feet while we are eating at the table and never leave our side once all day. He even follows me into the toilet or bathroom when I shower. His love knows no bounds. He is obsessed with soft things, cushions, rugs, blankets and will often burrow into said soft furnishings for a quick nap leaving a trail of dog hair and a musk of hamster bedding…hmmm aren’t we just so lucky. Forget independence Benson hates being left alone, the guilt inducing face he has perfected for when I try and leave the house is so perfect that he often rides shotgun while I do my errands. He is never left alone for more than 3 hours and that is only when absolutely essential.

He has about 100 different facial expressions, each one incredibly funny. To him you are everything. While it hasn’t always been easy to adjust I love having Benson in our little family. You will never feel as loved as when you walk through the front door to a bulldog that’s shaking with excitement to see you. If you have the time and commitment that it takes to look after a dog who needs so much love I can’t recommend this breed more. If you already have one then you will know what I mean. A truly special breed, one in a million.

While this isn’t my usual kind of recipe I decided to create this for a couple of reasons. My little mutt is so sensitive- he seems to be allergic to everything! Nightly Sudocrem massages and an avoidance of any foods with artificial colours help to keep his itching to a minimum. We once tried one of his dog treats to see “what all the fuss was about” I swear they are made of compressed cardboard. So as a token of my appreciation for his love and ensure I know what he was eating I had a go at making some tasty little dog treats for him. Really these biscuits could be eaten by us too as they are much like a savoury oat cake, however I think I’ll leave these for Benson, sharing food with a pet is a questionable at best. Once made they will keep for a week or so in an airtight container. He loved them; mind you he would literally eat anything if he had his way.

Bensons Biscuits
Makes about 50 small biscuits.

180g wholemeal four
100g polenta
55g oats
30g wheat germ
50g light brown sugar
½ tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
½ cup water
85g butter, cold, chopped into pieces
1 egg
1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put all the ingredients, apart from the egg in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Add the egg and pulse again then gradually add up to 50ml of cold water until you have a soft but dough. Divide into two balls and roll out each one in turn on a floured surface about ½ cm thick.
2 Stamp out hearts, bone shapes or whatever you fancy. Vary the size if you like depending on how good/big your dog is. Divide between flat trays lined with parchment. Re-roll any trimmings. Cook on the middle and bottom shelf, swapping the trays half way through, for 18-20 mins, until light golden and crisp. Cool. Keep in an airtight container. 

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