My dog Oliver is turning five this month. That puts him at 35 dog years.
A few years ago, I still felt that Oliver’s acts of domestic destruction were charming. He was a fourteen-dog-year-old boy, after all. Bad behavior comes in that package. At least he wasn’t out riding motorcycles, his pockets full of weed. But now that he’s older, I’m ready to move on.
I went to a fair amount of trouble making sweet potato bread, then set it out to cool so I could photograph it for proud display here at Crabby Cook headquarters. Maybe it was because I’d been in a dog-free apartment in NYC for a week, but I made a crucial mistake. I relaxed my vigilance.
Tom came to find me in my office. He had that look on his face you get when a relative dies. “Did you, uh, make some kind of spice bread earlier?” I shot to the kitchen and howled at the sight of my decimated loaf. Oliver had chewed it horizontally, eating a good two thirds of it and leaving the remains glistening with saliva. (See photo.) The dog stood in the doorway of the kitchen, observing my distress with solemn empathy.
Okay, so if not at 35, when? When will I be able to leave innocent baked goods on the counter with impunity? Do I need to surround my cooling rack with a moat? The trouble is, Tom sets a bad example. The last time I made brownies, he’d eaten half of them before they’d cooled to room temperature.
I could call the Dog Whisperer. Maybe he’d do a dog/human two-fer…
Sweet Potato Bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup mashed, baked sweet potatoes
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup roasted pecan halves*
½ cup pitted, chopped dates
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Generously butter a standard loaf pan.
2. Place the potatoes, oil, honey and sour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at medium speed until ingredients are well blended. Add one egg at a time and blend well, then add the vanilla.
3. In a large, separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, spices and baking soda. Add the potato mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in the pecans and dates and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the bread comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Allow the bread to cool for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan, place it on a cooling rack and let it cool completely. Keep it out of your dog’s reach while cooling!
*To roast the pecans, place them on a baking sheet in a 350º for about ten minutes, until fragrant.