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.
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
- 1 egg white
- 2/3 cup almond paste
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg, beaten
- Almond slices
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Allow it to sit until bubbly, about five minutes.
Stir in the cream, salt, eggs, and sugar.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Line two baking pans with parchment.
- 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.
- Cut the dough lengthwise into four strips (4 x 20 inches each).
- Spread 1/4 of the filling along the middle of each strip.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- While the bear claws rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- 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.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Cool slightly on wire racks.
- 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.
You can change the flavors of the filling to add interest to the bear claws.
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
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
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
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.