Dogged Ambition

Dogs are more than just man’s best friends. Dogs are family members, every bit as precious and vital as the small creatures with two legs. Some recoil at the comparison, loathe to grant a “fur baby” the same sort of allowances, but the bottom line is that we need dogs just as much as they need us. Beyond basic care and feeding, your most valuable resource costs nothing to invest: Compassion. So many hundreds, thousands, and yes, millions of dogs out there are changing lives, yet find little to no love in return. Today is the time to celebrate these canine companions, big and small, mixed breed and pure, because it’s National Dog Day.

Yes, so many national “holidays” are silly, baseless non-events schemed up by corporations looking to make a quick buck or steal the social media spotlight for a minute. This day, however, was founded in 2004 with a far more noble objective. The goal was to not only show appreciation for dogs, but to bring attention to the plight of abused dogs, to end puppy mills and to bring an end to breed-specific legislation that regulates, or outright bans, certain breeds in the hope of minimizing dog attacks. Every day should be dog day, whether or not you’re a proud puppy parent.

I’d like to raise a glass to all the hard working canines out there, as well as the simply doggedly adorable fluff balls. The only thing fitting here would be a salty dog cocktail; classically composed of grapefruit juice and gin, with a salted rim, the origin of the name is a bit murky, but the bright, punchy flavor profile is clear. Tangy citrus, herbaceous spirits, and a salty kick to accentuate the two leaves nothing left to be desired. Well, okay, a bit of sweetness might be nice… and on that note, how about a dessert while we’re at it?

My take on the salty dog involves cake, because what’s a celebration without cake?

If the dog bone shape strikes you as a bit over-the-top, or you’re baking to suit a different theme, it’s even easier to simply cut the cake into squares instead. Better yet, bake the batter into cupcakes and no cutting will be necessary.

These treats are for adult humans only, as they do include a decent splash of alcohol that doesn’t cook or bake out. Each morsel is glazed with a poured fondant icing spiked with gin that sets up as a crisp, sugary shell for the tender grapefruit cake within. Don’t forget the pinch of flaky salt on top to complete the experience. While such garnishes are often listed as “optional,” it’s utterly essential here- it’s in the name, after all. It’s a bold change of pace, bright and refreshing, just like the original inspiration.

Let’s all raise a glass, or a piece of cake, to all the canines in our lives. Whether you have one, two, three, or none, there’s never a bad time to adopt

Yield: Makes 12 Servings

Salty Dog Pup Cakes

Salty Dog Pup Cakes

Inspired by the salty dog cocktail, these grapefruit cakes are glazed with a gin-spiked glaze and topped with a pinch of flaky salt.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


Grapefruit Cake:

  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Grapefruit Zest

Poured Gin Fondant:

  • 1 Pound (4 1/2 Cups) Confectioner's Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Light Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Gin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Flaky Salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8x8-inch square baking dish. Alternately, line 12 muffin tins with papers to make cupcakes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Separately, combine the grapefruit juice, oil, and zest before pouring the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry. Stir with a wide spatula just until combined; it's perfectly fine to leave a few lumps in the batter.
  3. Transfer batter to your prepared pan or muffin cups and smooth out the surface. Bake for 24 - 28 minutes for the full square, 16 - 20 minutes for cupcakes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  4. Cut the cake using bone-shaped cookie cutters, or simply slice into equal squares. Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet to catch the drips.
  5. To make the poured fondant, first sift the confectioner's sugar and set aside.
  6. Combine the agave, gin, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in the sugar gradually, stirring gently but constantly. Once fully incorporated and completely smooth, remove the liquid fondant icing from the heat. Allow to cool and thicken for 8 - 10 minutes.
  7. Spoon the fondant glaze over the top of each cake, smoothing it down the sides to completely cover. After covering all of the pieces, repeat with a second coat. Top each with a pinch of flaky salt, and let rest at room temperature until set.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 160mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 1g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.




5 thoughts on “Dogged Ambition

  1. Your dog looks adorable:) Happy Dogday from my Bambi, who is a mixed breed dog (Mostly miniature pincher and then something else) And the bone cakes sound very yummy.

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