Monday, December 3, 2012

How to Make Bear Claws

A few years ago when I first began baking in earnest, my results with yeast-risen breads and pastries were mixed at best. Sometimes I'd have gorgeous risen dough and other times I'd cry over brioche buns that could double as hockey pucks. I blamed the yeast.  Living things can be unpredictable, right?  That was my excuse.

I've corrected some novice mistakes since then. Simple things like checking the expiration date before purchase and use make a big difference, and proper storage is very important too.

I also have a brand of yeast I always use and recommend - Red Star dry active baking yeast.  It hasn't let me down yet. If you do a lot of baking then you may already have a favorite brand of yeast, but this is what works for me.  I keep some in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Bear claws are probably my favorite pastries, ever!  The quick danish pastry I use is really easy to make and just as buttery and flaky as classic danish pastry dough.  I've put together a picture tutorial of my bear claw making process to use along with the recipe. I hope it will encourage you to try them for yourself!

Slice butter and add to the flour in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until butter is the size of kidney beans.
Combine yeast and flour/butter mixture until just combined.
Pound out chilled dough with a rolling pin.
Roll to a 16x20 piece.
Fold dough into thirds.
Roll out folded dough.
Fold again into thirds.
Roll to 16x18 inches and cut into four pieces.
Spread with filling and roll up pieces.
Roll to flatten and seal edges.
Cut into pieces.
Cut "toes" into filled pieces.
Lay on prepared baking sheet and curve them slightly.

These are so crazy good right out of the oven.  It's impossible to wait for them to cool and you shouldn't wait.  They are worth the burned fingers, especially when there's milk and honey glaze ready for dipping!

Cinnamon Bear Claws 
with Milk and Honey Glaze
Yield: 13-16 pastries                                                                        [click for printable version]

This recipe is adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.

I suggest making this over the course of two days.  The dough can be made the first day and refrigerated overnight.  The dough can be rolled, filled and baked on the second day.

Make the quick danish pastry dough:
This dough can be used to make a variety of pastries including buns, braids, bear claws and kringles.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water 105F -115F
1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
  1. Add flour to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Cut butter into 1/4-inch slices and add to the flour. Process until the mixture until the butter is about the size of kidney beans.  If you don't have a food processor you can cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or other cutting tool.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in the cream or milk, salt, eggs and sugar. Turn the flour-butter mixture into the liquid ingredients and with a rubber spatula mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight (preferred) or up to 4 days.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust dough with flour. Pound dough with rolling pin; roll out to make a 16x20-inch piece. Fold into thirds making three layers. Turn dough and roll out again. Fold again into thirds. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Prepare the filling while you wait for the dough to chill.
Cinnamon filling:
1 egg white
2/3 cup almond paste
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a small bowl, beat all the ingredients with an electric mixer until very smooth. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
1 egg, beaten (for brushing pastries)
Sliced almonds
Large crystal sugar
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled pastry out to make an 16x18-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips.
  2. Remove filling from refrigerator and spread 2 tablespoons of filling down the center of each strip. Roll each strip from the long side jelly-roll style and place seam-side down. Roll lightly to flatten and seal the edges.  Cut each strip into 4-6-inch pieces, then cut 3-5 slits for "toes". Place pieces on the prepared baking sheets, curving them slightly. Allow them to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes or until puffy, or you can cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (after refrigeration let stand at room temperature until puffy).
  3. Preheat oven to 400F. Brush with the beaten egg and place a sliced almond on each bear "toe". Sprinkle with large crystal sugar. Bake 5-8 minutes for small pastries, 10-12 minutes for larger pastries.
  4. Let cool slightly on wire racks.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1-2 tbsp. whole milk
  1. Stir together ingredients until smooth. Add more confectioners' sugar if too thin, or add more milk if too thick.  Drizzle over warm pastries.



Blog is the New Black said...

Awesome! And how cute is that lil bear?! ;)

The Witch's Kitchen said...

OMG. So have to try these!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

So pretty! Those bear claws arewonderful and I bet they taste just heavenly.



Veronica said...

Bear claws are absolutely a family favorite and yours are gorgeous!! I will definitely be making these :)

RecipeGirl said...

I am completely in love with the idea of making these!!!! maybe for Christmas this year!

The Bearfoot Baker said...

Oh my goodness!! You make me so happy!!!!!

Tiffany said...

Pretty sure that is the cutest picture of bear claws I have ever seen EVER!!

vanillasugarblog said...

what I wouldn't give to hang out with you AND to see your "prop closet"
I have no props sadly, but need some.
These are just glorious my dear.
You are mucho mucho talented.

Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen said...

These actually look surprisingly easy! Well maybe not "easy" but doable. And maybe even a good practice pastry for croissants!

Heather said...

I second the post by vanillasugarblog. I think you should give away a "One Day with SprinkleBakes" dream tutorial - assist the master and learn technique, tools, and trades! These are probably the most perfectly manicured bear claws EVA.

Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel said...

These are BEAUTIFUL. You are, in one word, brilliant, my dear!

Becca said...

I've only ever seen the fried kind of bear claw. These look waaaaaay better than the fried version. Kind of like a cinnamon roll... only, again, this looks waaay better than a cinnamon roll. I think while I'm on break from school I'm going to try my hand at a few yeast recipes.

Rebecca said...

Red star yeast is the best! I've never had a bear claw, but after seeing these, I want one...right now. Also, I just got your cookbook, and it's rocking my world.

Lora said...

What a great tutorial. I always have mixed results when working with yeast. I love these bear claws and the flexibility of adding different fillings.

Sara said...

So cute! I love the little bear at the top. :) Looks so tasty!

Laura said...

What a cute idea and they sound absolutely delicious. I love that top picture.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

Aww love these! Bear claws are such a classic in my family, but I love your take on them even better! (don't tell Grandma).

Kelsey from {ps:heart } said...

these look so heavenly! definitely will need to give them a go!

Ima said...

Great! Thank you!

HsB said...

i love this!!!! i love your blog, which i just discovered!!!! i will absolutely follow :)

come visit me,

PS don´t forget to enter my giveaway:

thyme Sarah said...

Love. They are adorable. They look so complicated and then you break them down so well. Thank you Heather!

Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts said...

They look wonderful! Love the flavor, and much easier then I ever thought they would be!

Sharla said...

Ok, I do not store my yeast in the fridge and find the same kind of "hit or miss" in my baking. Thanks for the tip!

Judy @ Season of Sweets said...

Yummy! Thank you for the great photos too!

Sugar Spice Cabinet said...

Hmmm I am wondering if I could use my breadmaker for this? After adding the ingredients cut up the butter to into 1 inch pieces and placing it on the dough cycle. However that is only an 1.5 hr rise .... is this long enough?

Sarah said...

I can't cope with all the deliciousness. Flaky pastry, sweet glaze, and gooey spicy-sweet insides? I wish I lived in the northern hemisphere!

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Loved the tutorial. Things can look so complicated but are actually easy when it's explained.

Buttercream Bakehouse said...

my kids would love these. Thanks for posting

Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings said...

love the photo- the scene is super cute!

Colette Just for Foodies said...

These would be so good for breakie on Christmas morning...

Loretta E. said...

I made croissants twice from homemade pastry dough and it was a process, but not very difficult. Just took lots of time. I love this 'quick' version of a bear claw!

Coleen Patrick said...

Yum! And so cute with the bear in the photo. :)

Sue said...

Ever since my little grandson and I watched "The Bear" movie together I have wanted to make some bear I have the perfect recipe with your fabulous step-by-step included...woo hoo! I'll almost feel like I am baking alongside you:) I love almond paste and these look amazing!

Katie said...

They look fabulous and so beautifully presented. Just stunning. Love the spicy filling you used

Isabel - Frabisa said...

Maravilloso y muy bien explicado, parece facilísimo y seguro que está delicioso. Enhorabuena!

Lynda Jane Cakes said...

I cannot get over how not cute these little treats are but how tasty they sound! Definitely need to try them out for the holidays!


Mary Ellen said...

Never had almond paste.... is there another yummy filling that could be used perhaps?

Mary Ellen said...

Just googled it and found that Pillsbury's recipe uses bread crumbs??? Ok, that is just wrong and gross.

Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake said...

These look amazing! My husband loves bear claw so I will definitely have to try this!

Lynna said...

This looks awesome! I love eating bear claws as a child for breakfast. Now, I can make my own homemade. :D

fudgingahead said...

I never knew why this pastry was called "bear claws" until I saw your take on it. Perfect looking little toes!

Anne said...

Never thought bear claws could be this elegant!

Lauren at Keep It Sweet said...

You are amazing Heather, incredible post!

Heather said...

If I was a raccoon, I would want to live near your garbage can.

Janet said...

I made these today and they are amazing!!!!!!!

Janet said...

Ok So I know I just posted a comment, but I seriously can't thank you enough for posting this recipe. It was the first time I've ever worked with a laminated dough and I did not expect it to be this successful. Everyone who has tried the bearclaw can't believe I made it from scratch or didn't buy it from a bakery!

SprinkleBakes said...

Hi Janet! I'm so glad you tried the recipe. That quick pastry is the trick, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing your results!


Anonymous said...

Wow i really love your receipes and it all seems yummy

Greetings from holland

Jennifer said...

Is there anything that can be used instead of almond paste? I am deathly allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts and run a nut-free baking business. Would butter work?

Heather Baird said...

You can replace the almond paste with with finely chopped apples.

tiffany le said...

Hi! I was wondering if these bear claws would taste okay if I refrigerate the claws that I have filled and cut overnight and then bake them the next morning? Would the texture of the claws be okay overnight?

Heather Baird said...

Hi Tiffany! They will be fine left in the refrigerator overnight. The texture won't be diminished.

Crystal Cota said...

These are so amazing! I made them today and they turned out just perfect! Simple to follow and just tasted fantastic, thank you! Will definitely be making these again

Crystal Cota said...

These are amazing! I made them today and they turned out great. The recipe was easy to follow and they just came out wonderful! I will definitely be making these again :)

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