Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Hammer- Doggie Birthday Cake

I thought my awkward days of trying to fit into the cool crowd were long gone, relegated to past Junior High dances and makeout parties I would rather forget. I mean, I think I am a pretty interesting person, not awful to look at, with decent taste and a successful job, right? Then why, when I take my beloved mutt to the unofficial dog park just a few blocks away, am I suddenly made to feel like I just turned up in un-ironic flannel and leg warmers to fashion week?

Why? Well, its simple. These are dog people. I thought I was a dog person. I like dogs better than cats, I enjoy a good game of frisbee as much as the next girl. But I was wholly unprepared for the social scene that is the urban dog park. Last week when I was there, someone took pity on me sitting in the corner all designer-poop-bag free and came over to talk. Relieved that someone was willing to chat with me, even though my modest pooch didn't support the upper-east-side crest of a fancy doggie day care, I asked her the requisite dog-related questions: Which one is yours? How old is he? etc. In response, she whipped out a framed photograph that she kept in her purse of her dog's wedding. Yea, read that sentence again. Its as ridiculous as it sounds.

Now, I like to think I have played the cocktail circuit enough for work to be able to think quick on my feet no matter where the conversational tsunami may take me, but none of my rigorous self-taught etiquette prepared me for what the follow up to "oh, here are mira's wedding photographs. We had such a lovely ceremony" might be, when 'Mira' is a 75lb Chesapeake. Ummm...congrats? Where did they honeymoon? Are they registered?


I love my dog, don't get me wrong. He's about the best dog in the world. But he does not need clothing, psychotherapy sessions, daily grooming for self-esteem, reasoned discourse about desired behavior beyond "No! and Good dog!", or a pretty little doggie bride.

So no, I am not one of those 'dog people'. All of this is a admittedly defensive preface for the real meat of this post which is how to make a doogie birthday cake. Which is exactly the sort of thing 'dog people' would do. I will just keep telling myself that I did it ironically, and hopefully be able to believe it :-)

Hammer Dog turned 5 last Fri, on May Day. The East is Red and so is my dog. The weather has been beautiful, just cool enough to sit outside comfortably at night with a sweater. Perfect al-fresco dining. I needed an excuse for a dinner party. I figure a little appreciation of the best dog ever, who, for 5 years, has left my shoes happily unchewed, was in order.

I made a leg of lamb, rubbed with honey, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper. It was delicious, and Hammer Dog loves lamb bone above all other treats. Except the laser pointer light. He would forgo food, water, and attention for that little red dot.

But the crowning achievement of this party was the doggie cake. I had never done this before, and wanted to make something that actually looked like cake. I couldn't believe this worked. It smells like death itself, and definitely should cool outside, but there is nothing a dog loves more than something smelling somewhere between dirty diapers and rotting rat carcass. Gross, but true.

Anyway, here is the recipe:

4 cups dry Dog Food
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tsp baking soda
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup oyster sauce (optional, really any savory good that your dog likes will work here)
Salt & Pepper
3/4 Can of Beef Broth


4 large potatoes
1/4 can Beef Broth
Food coloring

Put the dog food in a food processor and process until almost the consistency of flour. Mix with other dry ingredients Add oil, eggs, sauces and spices and mix. Mixture will be very thick. Add beef broth until mixture has the consistency of lumpy cake batter, about 3/4 cup.

Pour batter into a greased springform pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool before frosting, preferable outside as this will stink something awful at this point.

Frosting: Peel and boil potatoes until soft in salted water. Remove, strain, and cool. Using the back of a spoon or your hands, push potatoes through a colander so that you have a pie of small tubular mashed potatoes (this keeps them from being lumpy for people to eat if you are also serving them at dinner, and more easily spreadable for frosting. add food coloring to make them a vibrant color (it really looks better if silly), and add about 1/4 cup beef broth to thin and for taste.

When the cake is cool, grease a frosting knife and spread the potatoes on the cake as you would normal frosting. I also wrote a birthday message on the cake in mustard.

For bonus fun, leave the cake accessible to annoying people- it looks so real, and delicious, that they will inevitably be compelled to try. Enjoy the gagging.

Seriously though, Hammer LOVED THIS. He stared at the oven the whole time it was cooking! He was terrified though of the candles!

Yea, I'm a dork.

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