Homemade Bear Claws Recipe

I cannot remember where I found this recipe. I first made them about 10 years ago. I made a few changes from the original. The recommended baking temperature is too hot and I used the whole tube of almond paste for the almond filling, though I think doubling the amount would be even better. There is also a cream cheese filling. I prefer the almond filling, aka marzipan. My recipes tend to be on the terse side. Ask if you have questions. Enjoy.

Homemade Bear Claws Recipe
(makes 18)

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
2 pkgs (1 tbsp + 1-1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
4 cups flour

1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp water
chopped nuts an sugar, optional

Filling Recipes below
Glaze Recipe below (optional)

Scald milk. Add sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm.

Place warm water in bowl. Sprinkle yeast over and stir until dissolved. Stir in milk mixture, egg and half of the flour; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to form a stiff dough. DO NOT add more flour! Cover tightly with waxed paper or foil. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Make one of the filling recipes and set aside. (Filling recipes below the assembly instructions).

Divide dough in half. The dough is sticky. I recommend rolling out between two long pieces of plastic wrap that you have lightly sprinkled with flour. I flip the dough after a couple of rolls, straightening out the plastic and adding a little sprinkle of flour if needed. The dough is very soft, as you will see when mixing before chilling. Adding more flour to make a "true" soft dough will make a tough pastry.

Roll into a 9" x 18" rectangle. Sprinkle half of the filling over the dough. Gently pat the filling to keep it in place. Fold outside 18" long-side third towards center. Fold dough once more to make 3 layers. You should have a 18" long by 3" wide pastry staring at you. Pinch ends of dough to seal.

Cut into nine 2"-wide sections. Make four 1/4" cuts through the open side of each section. Place on a greased (buttered!) baking sheet and shape into bear claws by separating the 4-cut section.

Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Combine egg yolk and water, brush on tops of bear claws. Sprinkle with optional nuts and sugar. (I do not use the extra sugar, but did sprinkle with slivered almonds.) Let rise, uncovered, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350° to 375°. (Originally 400°.) Bake bear claws for 10 to 15 minutes or until doubled. Watch the claws closely as they bake, making sure they do not get too browned and/or burned. Let cool and drizzle with glaze, if desired.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp and maybe a drip more of milk

Stir together, making it thin enough to drizzle a little glaze squiggle to hold those almonds on top. Do with the cooling rack over a baking sheet or something. Cleaning up the stuff that dribble off was a booger. It seemed to smear and refuse to come up, no matter how many times I rinsed with hot water the cloth and wiped

Keep any leftovers in a sealed or covered container. I prefer them cold. The marzipan flavor is more intense. Himself prefers warmed. I may try the next batch doubling the almond filling recipe. drool...

Almond Paste Filling
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tube (7 oz) almond paste, grated (originally 1/2 cup- not enough, I think)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Melt and simmer for about 2 minutes the butter. Remove from heat and stir brown sugar. When well mixed, stir in lemon zest and cinnamon into the mixture. Cool slightly- 1 or 2 minutes. Gently fold in almond paste until fully coated and mixed well.

Cream Cheese Filling
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Tips: you can make dough the night before. The original recipe noted that theirs were done in 8 minutes baking at the original baking temperature of 400°. I found it too hot of a temperature and they were too brown on the outside and not done enough in the inside.

I have a natural gas oven and live at about 2200' elevation. What works for me may have to be adjusted if you live at a higher elevation or a lower one. An electric oven, which tends to dry food out, may be better suited for using the high baking temperature.


I am a bit ecclectic. This blog is whimsical musings about my various interests and sharing things I am learning. If anything, it will be a good sleeping pill, no?

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