A tempting polar bear claw from our Arctic bakery. No bears were harmed in the making of this pastry!
Topping my baking to-do list this winter were bear claws. There is something about the sweet almond filling that makes these a mainstay of bakery shops – or perhaps it’s their cool name. Jack and I usually pass on these confections because most bakeries prepare them with an overload of sweetness. In researching recipes, I found a plethora of styles, from giant grizzly-sized pastries smothered in sliced nuts to tiny paws with a perfectly manicured almond on the end of each claw, and everything in between.
The recipe I settled on took a bit of time and effort. I wanted a medium-sized confection that emphasized not sweetness but almond flavor.The resulting pastry was superb – a little lighter than standard bakeshop fare and with a nicely balanced taste of almond.
Polar Bear Claws
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
- 1/4 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- pinch salt
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup sugar
- Place flour and butter in a medium bowl. Mix together using a pastry blender until well blended and butter pieces are no larger than kidney beans.
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Stir cream, salt, egg, and sugar into yeast mixture.
- Pour flour mixture into cream mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until ingredients are just moistened.
- Place dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Dust dough with flour. Roll out dough to 14 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold into thirds, making three layers. Roll out again. Fold into thirds once more and place back into refrigerator while you make the filling.
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup almond paste
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Add all filling ingredients to bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are well mixed and filling is smooth.
Assembling the pastries:
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough to a 12 x 16 inch rectangle.
- Cut the dough in half, length-wise.
- Spread half of the filling down the middle of one piece of dough. Repeat with other piece of dough.
- Roll each dough rectangle jelly-roll style from the long side.
- Tuck seam under roll.
- Cut each long roll into 5 pieces.
- Cut three slits into each piece to make the toes.
- Place each pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet, curving them slightly (to spread the toes).
- Allow pastries to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. They should puff up.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Brush each pastry with beaten egg.
- Generously sprinkle pastries with sliced almonds.
- Bake 12 minutes. Pastries should be lightly browned.
- Let cool slightly on wire rack. Drizzle with honey glaze.
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp milk
- Stir together ingredients until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar if too thin, or add more milk if too thick. Drizzle over warm pastries.