Bear Claw Pastry Recipe

Karen Frazier
Bear claw

Bear claws are a delicious and satisfying pastry. Filled with a flavorful almond-cinnamon filling, these tasty pastries are perfect for breakfast, morning snack, or brunch.

Traditional Bear Claw Recipe

Traditionally filled with almond paste and cinnamon, bear claws are made with yeast-raised dough similar to croissants. You form and cut them using a pastry cutter so they resemble bear claws.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 packages active dry yeast

  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold

Filling

  • 1 egg white
  • 2/3 cup almond paste
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Assembly

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Almond slices

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Allow it to sit until bubbly, about five minutes.

  2. Stir in the cream, salt, eggs, and sugar.

  3. Place flour in another bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it forms a mixture about the size of small peas. Alternatively, you can pulse the butter and flour in the food processor for ten one-second pulses.

  4. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and fold until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or as many as four.
  5. Flour a work surface. Turn the chilled dough out onto the surface and use a rolling pin to shape it into a 16 x 20 inch rectangle. The dough will have large pieces of butter visible in it and will be shaggy. Fold the dough into thirds to make three layers.
    Step 5
    Fold the dough into thirds.
  6. Turn the dough one quarter turn. Roll it into a 16 x 20 inch rectangle, dusting with flour as needed. Fold the dough into thirds to make three layers. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    Step 6
    Turn the dough 1/4 turn and roll it again.
  7. Prepare the filling by combining the egg white, almond paste, powdered sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Beat with a beater to combine well.
  8. Line two baking pans with parchment.
  9. Remove the chilled pastry from the refrigerator. Roll it into a 16 x 20 inch rectangle. The dough will be much smoother, although you will still notice some small pieces of butter, which will give the finished pastry its flakiness.
  10. Cut the dough lengthwise into four strips (4 x 20 inches each).
  11. Spread 1/4 of the filling along the middle of each strip.
    Steps 10 and 11
    Cut into four pieces lengthwise and spread with filling.
  12. Fold each strip along its length (so the strip will still remain 20 inches long). Run the rolling pin over each strip to flatten and seal.
    Step 12
    Fold each piece lengthwise and roll to flatten.
  13. Using a bench scraper or pastry cutter, cut each piece into four equal-sized pieces. Cut four slits along the open seam to just above the center point of each piece to form the toes of the bear claw.
  14. Lay each piece on the parchment lined pans, curving slightly to separate the toes and shape the foot. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for 20 minutes, until puffed.
  15. While the bear claws rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  16. After the pastry has risen, brush the top of each bear claw with the beaten egg. Then, sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the bear claws.
    Steps 13-16
    Cut the toes along the seam side, brush with egg, and add almonds.
  17. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Cool slightly on wire racks.
  18. While bear claws cool, combine powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract in a medium-sized bowl until well mixed. Drizzle the glaze over the warm pastry. Serve warm.

Filling Variations

You can change the flavors of the filling to add interest to the bear claws.

Maple Cinnamon

Create a maple and cinnamon sugar flavored filling, or leave the maple out and just make a cinnamon sugar flavoring. To make the filling combine:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Orange Cinnamon

This filling is similar to the maple cinnamon, but it has orange zest to add flavor. To make the filling combine:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest from one orange

Other Variations

You can try other variations, as well, such as:

  • Spread the dough with Nutella or nut butter instead of filling
  • Fill with chopped nuts
  • Fill with chopped dried fruits
  • Fill with squares of semi-sweet chocolate

Serving Suggestions

Traditionalists prefer bear claws with a cup of coffee, but consider the following serving suggestions:

  • Enjoy in place of toast with a plate of scrambled eggs, an omelet, or a frittata.
  • Serve with sliced fresh fruit on the side.
  • Enjoy with a cup of hot chocolate.
  • Serve as part of a brunch buffet that includes eggs, sausage or bacon, fruits, potatoes, and other pastries.

It's Worth the Effort

While bear claws take time and are slightly labor-intensive, the result is delicious. The fresh flaky pastry and sweet almond cinnamon filling makes these tasty pastries well worth the effort.

Bear Claw Pastry Recipe