Behold: It’s a Drip decorated Dog Birthday Cake for Dozer’s 9th birthday! The goal was to build a truly impressive-looking cake that’s as convincingly “real” as possible, but made entirely out of dog-friendly, dog-consumable ingredients! How’d I do??
Drip decorated Dog Birthday Cake
Another year older … but sadly not another year wiser (just like every other year)!! Ahh Dozer, you may not be known for your brains, but that’s ok. You still have your looks to get you through life, and most of all you have a heart of pure gold.
This year, I’ve decided it’s all about cake decorating. So here it is: A dog-friendly DRIP CAKE!! Whaddaya reckon??!
Drip Dog Birthday Cake components
Here are the 3 parts to making this fun Drip Dog Birthday Cake:
The dog cake – A dog-friendly, healthy and sugar-free Carrot Cake with the irresistible flavour of peanut butter;
Pooch-friendly “buttercream frosting” – This is actually just whipped potato!! Doesn’t it look just like real-deal frosting?? In this particular recipe, I make one batch of whipped potato (no colouring) and use it to sandwich the layers. Then I colour a second batch blue and frost the surface of the cake. The neon blue makes for a striking contrast against the white drips!
Drip frosting – Just a simple sugar-free “frosting” that has the consistency of and sets like “real” drip frosting!
1. Dog Birthday Cake
Ingredients in Dog Cake
Here’s what you need for the dog-friendly cake layers, crafted specifically to be sugar-free, low-oil and with all dog-friendly ingredients. It also has the smell of peanut butter – so irresistible to dogs! Someone please explain to me what the deal is with canines and peanut butter??
Flour – Either plain / all-purpose flour OR wholemeal / whole-wheat flour (which is more nutritious). I opted for plain flour here because it makes for paler cake layers which I thought looked prettier. However usually I use wholemeal flour, like in Dozer’s birthday Pupcakes and 2 layer Birthday Cake from previous years;
Honey – For sweetness, instead of refined sugar. Maple syrup is also great;
Oil – For moistness in the cake. Nobody wants their pooch to choke down a dry cake! I only use a modest amount, just 1/4 cup (65 ml) for the entire cake. You’ll never find a human cake on my website that uses such little oil, though!!
Carrot – To bulk out the cake with something nutritious that blends easily into the crumb;
Baking soda – The rising agent. We use quite a lot in this cake, 2.5 teaspoons. We need it in order to get the otherwise dense cake to rise. Substitute with baking powder;
Peanut butter – As noted above, it adds an irresistible smell (to dogs, anyway!) to the cake.
Eggs – For binding the cake crumb, without which it would just crumble everywhere. Eggs are also great nutrition for the dogs!
How to make the Dog Birthday Cake layers
This is a very simple and forgiving cake to make, with a tender and moist crumb. Nobody wants to be that dog-mama who makes a dry, bland cake for their fur baby!!
Whisk Wet ingredients;
Add shredded carrots;
Add Dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Overmixing = dense cake = a sad pooch
Pour into cake pans. I wanted a tall, four-layer cake so I used a couple of deep, 15cm / 6″cake pans. 2 x 20cm / 8″ cake pans will make a nice two-layer cake. Otherwise use anything in between, or even a 20cm / 8″ square cake pan;
Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Just because it’s a dog cake, there’s no excuse for uncooked batter in the cake – they may not care but you should!
Cool cakes, then trim and halve to make 4 cake layers, in preparation for frosting!
2. The Dog-friendly “Buttercream Frosting” aka Whipped Potato Frosting
Using whipped potato as “buttercream frosting” on dog cakes is something regular readers have seen in Dozer’s birthday Pupcakes and two-layer Birthday Cake from previous years. It looks just like the real thing, except it’s dog-friendly!
You and I wouldn’t eat it … but this is for dogs remember!
Why potato? Well, there are plenty of other recipes “out there” that use combinations of things like cream cheese, peanut butter and yogurt. But I wouldn’t recommend using vast volumes of any of these ingredients on a dog cake. It’s just too heavy for a pet’s diet in my view. And I want to frost with abundance!!
Dog-friendly “Buttercream Frosting” ingredients
Here’s what you need for the pooch-friendly “buttercream frosting”. It’s just potato, yogurt and water to adjust the thickness.
I make one big batch of the frosting and leave it as plain white. After I use what I need to frost between the cake layers, I colour the remaining frosting blue to use for the top and sides of the cake.
How to make Dog-friendly “Buttercream Frosting”
Cook potato: Boil, steam or microwave potato until extremely soft;
Whip: Whip potato with yoghurt using an electric beater or stand mixer until it’s as smooth as possible. If you were making mashed potato for me, I’d caution you not to over-whip the mash in pursuit of smoothness because that will activate the starches in the potato and make it gluey. Luckily, Dozer is no gourmet and does not mind (an understatement if you knew the sort of things I’ve caught him eating)! So feel free to whip until soft and smooth;
Adjust consistency: Use milk or water to adjust the consistency of the mashed potato until it’s soft and easily spreadable;
Spread: Use 3/4 cup of the frosting to spread between the cake layers. We will use the remaining frosting to decorate the cake.
How to colour the “frosting”
Colour frosting: Colour the remaining frosting with your colour of choice. I’ve gone for a bold, statement-blue colour for Dozer, because I think the white drips look striking against it.
I used a Wilton brand gel colour called Sky Blue. Gel is much more intense than liquid food colouring, and there is a much broader range of colours available. To achieve the frosting colour in the photos, I dipped a toothpick into the gel twice then smeared it onto the surface of the potato before mixing in. You will need 2 – 3 teaspoons of liquid food colouring to achieve the same intensity of colour;
Frost the cake!: Frost the top and sides of the cake using the coloured frosting. TIP: The “frosting” spreads better when warm, being potato. So if it gets too cool and you’re struggling to get a nice and smooth finish, just warm up the frosting in the microwave and loosen as needed with a little water.
Ingredients in Drip Frosting
Now the best part: the Drip Frosting! It might surprise you what it’s made from: cornflour / cornstarch, yoghurt and a touch of milk. This combination works a treat! Do not be tempted to substitute the yogurt with milk or water. I tried and it doesn’t work!
Mix these three ingredients together and you get the perfect drip frosting consistency – plus it’s 100% sugar-free!
Adjusting the Drip Frosting consistency: You will need to tweak the consistency because the thickness / wateriness of every yoghurt will differ. So make the Drip Frosting per my recipe, then do a test using a glass or something with vertical sides to see how the frosting behaves when applied.
The Drip Frosting should be thin enough so it slowly runs down the side, but thick enough so it stops, sets and holds its form partway down the cake (as pictured below), looking like a cartoon cake. You don’t want being so thin that it becomes see-through and runs all the way to the base of the cake (and likely will pool around the cake base too).
How to do the drips
Coat top: Firstly, scoop 2 – 3 spoonfuls of the frosting on to the top of the cake and spread it toward the edge. Take care not to push it over the edge or even too near the edge, else it eventually creeps over and you end up with a curtain of frosting down the side rather than drips.
Now make the surface as smooth as you can. Don’t worry about making it perfect if you are planning to decorate the top like I have, as it disguises bumps and lumps; and
Make drips: Drip effects are easy if the Drip Frosting consistency is right (hence the aforementioned recommended test run on a glass!) Just use a teaspoon to dribble a bit of Drip Frosting down the side of the cake. You’ll quickly figure out how much frosting to use to get long versus short, wide versus thin drips!
Don’t worry about perfection. In fact, I think it looks weird when the drips are all perfectly uniform! You want them to be irregular. So, some long, some short, some wide, some thin.
Decorating the Dog Birthday Cake!
What?! After all of that, there’s MORE decorating!!
Well why not? Just a little sprinkle of sparkly balls, some bling-y candles, and a little “Happy Birthday” sign is all that’s needed to give it a celebratory finishing touch!
Was it Dozer-approved??
As long as it’s not raw kale, Dozer approves – believe me!!
After hours of patience sitting through the shooting of the video, taking of the photos, finally he got the OK to eat …
Not even vision impairment by way of a slipped party hat was going to stop this boy from annihilating this cake!!!
The birthday party!
I’m not going to lie. The stress of being amongst a pack of golden retrievers, known for their extreme penchant for FOOD, with a cake that smells this good (to them, anyway!) while at the beach (rather than in a controlled environment!) is not something I would put myself through if it weren’t for the sheer entertainment value of the photos I’d get to share with you!!
So here they are. This was on Saturday morning at Bayview dog park (Sydney, Australia) with Dozer’s friends. It was furry sea of canine chaos!
Oh the carnage, once they got stuck into the cake!!!
All that effort decorating the cake … annihilated in 10 seconds flat!
As with previous years, I always attempt to add some birthday jollies by popping hats on the dogs. As anyone who owns a dog knows, they tolerate them for mere seconds before ripping them off! I will never get a photo of all of them dutifully lined up with party hats on, waiting patiently for a slice of cake. Never!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOZER!!
You have been the constant in my world ever since I got you, through the ups and downs of this rollercoaster called life. I love that you’re always happy, from the instant you wake up, every single morning. That you make me laugh at your ridiculousness, that we share an unfettered obsession of all things edible, that you welcome every stranger into the house like a long lost relative, that you are unconditionally loyal.
That you care not for the superficial things in life, not the toys nor the treats. You don’t need a fancy bed, a big backyard or a pool to play in. We could live in a run-down little shed in the middle of nowhere, and you’d still be as happy as you are today.
Happy birthday Dozer!!! Don’t ever change. I love you with all my heart. – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Four-Layer Drip Dog Birthday Cake
Frosting note: While it might sound weird for a frosting to be made of whipped potato, dogs don’t care! It looks and behaves like buttercream frosting, but is dog friendly so you can use it in abundance to decorate the cake (not recommended for usual frostings made with cream cheese/peanut butter etc etc)
Dog birthday cake:
- 2 large eggs , at room temperature (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (spread or pure)
- 1/4 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
- 2/3 cup milk (or water)
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (or apple sauce, else skip it)
- 2 1/2 cups carrot, grated (2 large carrots, peeled)
- 2 cups flour, plain/all-purpose (or whole wheat / wholemeal flour)
- 2 1/2 tsp baking soda (sub 6 tsp baking powder)
Dog-friendly “Buttercream” (Whipped Potato Yogurt):
- 1kg / 2 lb potatoes , peeled, cut into chunks
- 3/4 – 1 cup yoghurt (plain unsweetened) or water
- Water or milk as needed (to adjust consistency)
- Blue food colouring gel (or liquid) (or other colour of choice, Note 2)
- 1/2 cup cornflour / cornstarch
- 1/4 cup yoghurt (plain, unsweetened)
- 1 – 2 tbsp milk , as needed
- Silver, blue and white balls, candles, birthday sign
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan).
Cake pans: Grease and line the base of 2 x 15cm (6″) cake pans that are 7.5cm (3″) deep (Note 3 for other cake pan sizes).
Mix wet ingredients: Whisk together eggs, peanut butter, oil, honey and milk (small peanut butter lumps are ok).
Add dry ingredients: Stir in carrot. Add flour and baking soda, stir until just combined (over-mixing = hard cake = sad birthday pooch!)
Fill cake pans: Divide batter between cake pans, spread and smooth surface.
Bake: Bake 30 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on racks.
Level and halve: Trim the mound off the top of each cake to make the tops flat. Then cut each cake horizontally in half using a serrated knife so you have four, even, flat cake layers. Frost per below.
Cook potatoes: Boil, steam or microwave potato until very soft.
Whip: Whip potato and yoghurt with an electric beater until fluffy and smooth as possible – about 1 1/2 minutes on medium speed (speed 5).
Adjust thickness: Use water as needed to loosen frosting to a soft, spreadable consistency (like human buttercream frosting). Use while warm – it “sets” and gets harder when it cools, Note 4.
White and blue frosting: Use uncoloured frosting to frost between cake layers and sandwich them. Keep remaining frosting to be coloured and used to frost the surface.
White Drip Frosting:
Mix ingredients in a small bowl, starting with 1 tablespoon milk. The frosting should be thin enough so it will spread quite smoothly on the top of the cake, but thick enough so the drips you make down the side will hold their form. (Do a test on a straight-walled glass). Adjust thickness with more cornflour / cornstarch (for thicker) or more milk (for thinner).
Sandwich layers: Place one cake layer on a turntable or serving platter. Spread with 3/4 cup white frosting. Top with another layer of cake, spread with 3/4 cup frosting, then repeat once more and top with the 4th cake layer.
Colouring frosting: Colour the remaining frosting blue using blue gel. To achieve the colour pictured, dip a toothpick into gel container and smear colouring on the surface of the potato. Dip a clean toothpick again into the gel and repeat (you need two dips to get enough colour into frosting). Mix frosting until colour is uniform.
Frosting surface with blue: Frost the top and sides of the cake with the blue frosting, spreading it as smoothly as you can.
Drip Frosting: Spoon 2 – 3 tablespoons of Drip Frosting on the top of the cake and spread carefully to the edge, ensuring you don’t coax it over the edge. Now scoop up a teaspoon of the Drip Frosting and “drip” it down the side of the cake from the top edge. Repeat all around, making drips of different lengths.
Decorate: Decorate cake as desired with decorations that you want to stick to the frosting. I used silver, blue and white balls.
Set frosting: Immediately refrigerate for at least 3 hours to make the Drip Frosting set. (Also, the silver balls will sweat on the Drip Frosting unless it sets quickly). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Happy birthday to your pooch!!!
2. Food colouring – I use Sky Blue colouring gel by Wilton, available at Spotlight (Australia) and speciality stores that carry food colouring gels. Gels are much more intense than liquid food colouring. As demonstrated in the video, I dip a toothpick into the gel then smear it on the surface of the “frosting”, and I do this twice to achieve the colour shown in the photos.
To achieve the same intensity of colour using liquid food colouring, you will need about 2 – 3 teaspoons.
3. Cake pan – The four layer cake pictured is made with a 15 cm (6″) pan that is 7.5cm (3″) deep. It can also be made in 2 x 20cm (8″) cake pans (for a two layer cake that takes 25 minutes to bake), or anything in between. Otherwise, use a square pan about 20cm (8″).
Bake times will require adjustment accordingly, but this is a forgiving cake! Just check with a toothpick to see if it’s ready – it should come out clean once cooked.
4. Serving size – Appropriate serving sizes should be determined having regard to the health, size, activeness and digestive sensitivities of your dog. Dozer was fine even eating 2 large slices (almost 1/8th of the cake!). But he is a large and highly active dog with a broad diet. He eats many things I make and tastes almost everything I eat myself!
Do not use in place of a meal however. You wouldn’t eat a cake for lunch (or maybe you do ), and so it is with dogs – cakes are not a well rounded nutritious meal!
Also in case you are, ermmm, “interested”, his was NOT blue!! The frosting actually contains very little colouring per portion. It is merely 2 toothpick-smears worth (see post).
5. Potato “buttercream frosting” –If it gets cold before you finish using it, it will become quite firm which makes it hard to spread smoothly. Warm in microwave and use water to loosen to a soft and spreadable consistency.
6. Nutrition commentary (assumes 20 slices):
- Eggs – A good source of protein for dogs
- Peanut butter – The “treat” element. Dogs are mad for peanut butter! It gives the cake an irresistible peanut butter smell. 2.5 tsp per slice.
- Oil – A very small amount used, about 1/2 tsp per slice
- Milk – If you’re concerned about your dog consuming dairy, sub with water. It works out at 1.5 tsp per serve, and also remember it’s cooked!
- Honey – For a touch of sweetness, 3/4 tsp per slice. Skip if you want.
- Carrot – Carrot is good for dogs! I hide a lot of carrot in Dozer’s meals. It also makes the sponge moist. Sub with zucchini or sweet potato.
- Flour – Just like humans, carbs are fine to consume in moderation!
- Baking soda – To make the sponge rise, OK for dogs in small quantities.
- Potato – Same as flour, cooked potato is fine to consume in moderation! It’s a better, healthier option than slathering the cake with a peanut butter + yogurt frosting, which seems to be the default for most dog cake recipes. Too much yogurt or peanut butter is not good for our pooches. Whether commercial sweetened spread or even pure unsweetened product, peanut butter is very high in fat. Some yoghurt is good for dogs but not vast quantities.
- Yoghurt – Probiotics in yoghurt is good for dogs’ digestive systems, just like humans! If your dog is sensitive to dairy, just use water.
- Food colouring – I used gel because it’s such a small quantity I was comfortable with it (see Note 2 concerning how little we use). You could opt to use natural food colouring liquid (available in the baking aisle at Woolies and Coles in Australia, labelled “Natural Food Colouring”). However the colour of the frosting will not be as intense. It’s ideal if you want to have a pastel-coloured frosting base like this robin egg blue Easter Cake (that’s a human cake!).
7. Storage – This cake is best kept in the fridge. It should be good for 5 to 7 days. Also freezable!
8. Nutrition per slice.
Life of Dozer
Just because today’s recipe is ALL about Dozer, you didn’t think I’d skip the Life of Dozer section, did you?? Today, we’re going Behind The Scenes from the shooting of the birthday cake recipe video!!