Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Truthfully, I don't really bake much. Which makes it somewhat amusing that when I finally got out the baking sheets, I made dog biscuits. Hey, we all like homemade treats!
Looking at the ingredients list on a box of dog treats is often as scary as looking at some of the prepared stuff that passes as food these days. I generally believe that if you can't pronounce it, maybe it shouldn't be on your fork.
These dog biscuits came about because I wanted to find a comparable recipe for one of Jane the Dog's favorites, Milk-Bones. After her veterinarian announced to us that we should start brushing her teeth (um, what?) I knew that just giving her super-hard dog biscuits was not enough to keep her pearly whites sparkling. So, I experimented with a "copycat" recipe and I would say that it was a success. The biscuits weren't that difficult to make (always a plus). They didn't have exotic ingredients (except for the powdered milk, which can be a bit pricey, and the use of parchment paper which is something I had on hand since I use it for polymer clay). And, best of all, Jane loved them!
Jane the Dog
The process is simple enough. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine 1/2 cup dry powdered milk, 3/4 cup water, 1/3 cup softened butter, and 1 beaten egg. I used a hand-held beater but the mixture still comes out kind of lumpy and separated from the butter. It doesn't affect the final result.
Next, stir in 3 cups of unbleached flour (try substituting some whole wheat flour also). The dough will feel very similar to "people biscuit" dough.
You can roll out the dough, but I found that I could just pat it out on a piece of parchment paper. Pat or roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes. I have a dog bone-shaped cutter that is 3-1/4 inches wide, purchased at a Michael's craft store, but you can cut the biscuits into any shape you like. I tried to stamp "JANE" into the bone with metal alphabet stamps, but the dough sort of puffed up and the writing disappeared. Yes, I actually did sample a little piece; these biscuits also taste a lot like "people biscuits" without the salt, etc.
Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place the dog biscuits on the paper. Bake for about 50 minutes. They won't brown a lot, but they will be crunchy (not hard as a brick like Milk-Bones, but definitely crunchy).
I originally made half of this recipe just to try it, and with my 3-1/4 inch cookie cutter I was able to get seven biscuits plus a couple of extra small leftover pieces. So, this recipe should make about 14 or 15 biscuits with a cookie cutter of similar size. Store in a paper bag so biscuits will remain crunchy, and remember that these don't have preservatives so they won't last as long as manufactured dog biscuits. It might not really be a problem for you and your precious furbaby; Jane could probably eat all of them at one time. But, treats are treats because they're special - just like your sweet dog!

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