Sophie Jackson is a dog lover and trainer living in the UK. She competes in agility and obedience with her four dogs.
Why This is the Best Liver Cake Ever
I can't take credit for creating this ultimate liver cake recipe, that has to go to my friend who regularly makes her own liver cake. It was noticeable that dogs always headed her way when they knew she had liver cake, even when their owners also had liver cake. What made hers extra special?
The secret came down to quantities; her recipe had a higher liver to flour ratio than most others and this made it irresistible to every dog around. Once I knew the magic formula, I made a few tweaks of my own to make this cake something that all my dogs could enjoy - now it is not only extremely meaty, but low-fat and gluten-free. But to achieve perfection, you have to think about your ingredients.
I only use lamb or ox liver. Ox liver is pretty cheap with 400g selling for less than £1 in the UK. I avoid pig liver, as this can be high in fat depending on what the pig has been fed. As I am aiming for a low-fat treat, pig liver is not an option.
I always use gluten-free flour, as I have a dog with a grain intolerance. Gluten can be a problem for a lot of dogs and is something I prefer to avoid in my baking.
Garlic has had a lot of bad press lately, with scare stories of it causing anaemia in dogs. Actually, in small quantities garlic will cause your dog no harm, and has a range of health benefits. But in this recipe it is mainly there for taste and smell.
When using gluten-free flour, the end mixture is likely to be less sticky and the resulting cake not so firm, as it is the gluten in ordinary flour that binds everything together. For that reason I use more eggs in my recipe to help bring it all together. You can reduce the egg quantity if you are using ordinary flour.
Homemade Dog Treats - Why?
As you are reading this article, I am going to assume you are interested in making treats for your dog. You may have a few reasons already for opting to home-cook, but I can guarantee you that people will ask you over and over again why cook treats for your dog when you can just go to a shop and buy some? Well, here are some of the reasons why choosing to make your own treats is such a great option.
You Know What Goes in Them
Shop bought doggy treats are a minefield when it comes to ingredients. Cheaper ones contain a high amount of cereals (grain), which many dogs struggle to digest and can trigger food allergies. Even if your dog is fine with cereals, they are not particularly tasty to eat.
If there is any meat at all in the product it will be labelled 'meat and animal derivatives' which means anything that cannot be processed into food - such as beaks, feathers, and all the random bits no one else wants.
To try to make these products more palatable, manufacturers add artificial sweeteners - such as sorbitol - to improve the taste. We don't yet know if sorbitol causes dogs problems, but it is a sugar alcohol from the same family as xylitol, which is known to be toxic to dogs.
It is Cheaper
There are some great dog treat companies out there, who make their treats from high quality ingredients, but they are not cheap to buy. If you train a lot, or have a larger dog, buying high quality treats can become expensive, fast. In contrast, buying fresh ingredients and making a big batch of homemade treats works out to be relatively inexpensive and you can freeze extra portions too, so you always have some on standby.
You can be an Ethical Carnivore
Dogs eat meat, we can't get away from that, and whatever our own views on meat consumption, when it comes to homemade liver cake we are going to be using animal products. That does not mean we can't still be ethical about the meat we buy - by only buying meat and eggs from farms that have high welfare standards, we are helping to make the lives of farm animals just that bit better. In contrast, many cheap treats use meat products from countries with appalling animal welfare standards, and buying those treats supports those practices.
We Can Tailor Our Treats
Food allergies are becoming more common in dogs. If a dog has a food allergy, buying treats can be a real pain. Similarly, if our dog has a health condition that requires a special diet, finding treats that they can eat may not be easy. By home-cooking, we can tailor our treats to suit our pets and make sure they are eating something that won't make them ill.
Dogs Go Crazy for Homemade!
How do our dogs know the difference between shop-bought and homemade treats? Well, many bought treats are rather like kibble and lack a good scent, in contrast, homemade liver cake is soft, meaty and smells awesome. Why wouldn't your dog love it more? And the more they love a treat, the more they will work for it. Which is great when you are at a training class.
What You Will Need
800g (approximately) raw ox or lamb liver
400g Gluten-free flour
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
A blender or food processor is essential for this recipe, as you will need to blitz the liver until it is pureed.
Cooked liver can sometimes turn green. This is thought to be due either to natural bile salts or oxidisation of the iron in the meat. It is perfectly safe to eat, and a slight green tinge to your liver cake is nothing to worry about.
Pre-heat your oven to 475F, 240C (Fan-assisted 220) or Gas Mark 9
- Put the liver into a food processor or blender and blitz until it looks like a smoothie. Add the crushed garlic and eggs. Blend to combine.
- Add the flour and blend. If you have a large amount of mixture, you may need to pause and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure it all combines.
- Spoon the mixture into either a deep, lined cake tin, or a deep baking tray.
- Cook in the oven for 15-25 minutes, depending on how deep your tin is. The best way to judge this is to start with 15 minutes and then test the cake with a knife. Put the knife into the cake and then pull out, if there is any uncooked mixture on the blade the cake needs to cook for longer.
- Once cooked, set on a cooling rake to completely cool. You can then cut the cake into bite-size pieces and freeze what you don't want to use immediately.
© 2019 Sophie Jackson