I love my dogs. I am a dog person, and their presence in my life has always been non-negotiable, so of course it was inevitable that my husband should feel the same. He might not have had dogs as a young, single person, but he understood why I did (I had one dog, Loki,
who is still with us who passed away February 2009) and he felt strongly that when we had kids we should have dogs. And maybe cats, but that is another story.
Anyway, it is no great surprise then that our second dog (well my second, his first) was an engagement present from us, to us. That dog was Finnegan. We adored him from the start. He is the only dog that I ever did everything right with, all the stuff you are sposed to do but that frequently you do not have the time for. We went to obedience classes, where he was a star. He was regularly exercised, swimming and running. He fetched like a dream. Still does.
We have since added a third, Delilah, but much like Loki she is irrelevant at the present, because this is Finnegan’s story.I believe that for the most part–there are some exceptions–you take dogs as you do kids. What you get is what you get and you need to work with it–no matter how stressed and insane their behavior becomes. At first Finnegan was a dream dog. He had a strong alpha streak, which we dealt with by neutering him quickly and training him firmly, but otherwise he was perfect as an adult, if a naughty puppy. Then, when he was 2, we moved for the first time. To an apartment with no backyard, no less. That was the first time I ever caught him stealing potato chips with his tail–always a reliable barometer of his mood–tucked between his legs in shame. It was as though he was compelled to steal the food but did not enjoy it. He ate them frantically. These episodes were occasional.
Then, a year later, we moved again. And I got pregnant. Finnegan stole an entire 5 pounds of flour and dusted the entire kitchen with it–among other, more predictable, thefts, such as bread and cookies left on the counter. With my second pregnancy, we kenneled him when we left the house and put a gate before the kitchen at night, and the problem was brought under control for the most part.
John took him out for a run–supposedly exercise de-stresses dogs, right?–and when he let him back in to swap Delilah out for her run, instead of going to get water, he went straight to the kitchen and ate half of my cake before I could stop him.
Do you think he thinks I cook too much?
OK, kidding aside, I think our dog needs therapy–and obviously the sooner we move the better, since we are moving to a dog’s paradise. Anyway this is why my lovely Chocolate Zinger Bundt Cake draped in ganache is a strange half cake instead.
I found this cake in Carole Walter’s Great Cakes, one of my great used bookstore finds. I got it a week or so ago. I was intrigued by the black pepper–but next time would use 2-3 teaspoons, as we could not taste it much at 1 1/2 teaspoons. If I were to bake this cake again, I would also skip the ganache and serve dusted with powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream.
3/4 cup water
1 t instant espresso
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 T honey
2 cups sifted AP flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2-3 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups superfine sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup ice water
Position rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 350 F. Butter and flour a bundt pan (I used a 10 cup bundt pan and made 2 mini loaves–you could also use a 12 cup bundt pan).
Bring the 3/4 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from the heat and add the espresso, chopped chocolate and honey. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, salt, pepper and baking soda. Set aside.
Cream the butter in a mixer until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the shortening and beat on medium high for 30 more seconds, or until combined and smooth. Add the sugar, very slowly over 8-10 minutes, while beating on medium high. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute on medium after each egg. Whisk the chocolate mixture once or twice and add to the cake batter. Add the vanilla and beat on medium for 30 seconds more.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mix in 3 additions, alternating with the ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry mix. Mix only until incorporated. Finish by folding with a spatula by hand to make sure that all flour has been mixed in–do not over-mix.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 65-70 minutes (less for smaller pans), or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake and cool on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes. invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely. When the cake is cool, you may either pour ganache over it or dust with powdered sugar.