The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Inside the Jewish Bear Claw

GSnyde's picture

Inside the Jewish Bear Claw

I received my copy of Inside the Jewish Bakery a few days ago, and fairly quickly settled on the Bear Claws as the first recipe I wanted to try.  I’m kind of an almond paste freak .  You could call me a “MarziFan”.  

I made Bear Claws the first time a month or so ago, using the recipe from Fantasia Bakery.  That one used a Danish pastry dough—which was delicious—but the filling wasn’t right…too thin and eggy.  Stan and Norm’s filling, using a good portion of cake crumbs, looked promising.  The Bear Claw recipe in Inside the Jewish Bakery uses what they call “Coffee Cake Dough”, enriched with egg, sugar, shortening and milk powder, but not super sweet and fatty.

I’m not going to post the recipe, unless Stan says I should, but I’ll give you a bit of a narrative.

The dough takes a long time to come together.  It’s fairly batter-like.  It may be that my Bosch is not the ideal mixer for a dough like this; a KitchenAid might work better.  After about 20 minutes of mixing, the dough took almost two hours to double.  Then I punched it down, formed it into a ball and put it in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight.  The next morning it had doubled again and was nice and poofy.


This morning I made up the filling (almond paste, sugar, egg, cake crumbs, water, milk powder, salt) and divided the dough ball into three (the recipe says divide in three, but then refers to two batches making six pastries each…confusing).  The dough had a very nice texture, it is soft even right out of the fridge, and needed lots of flour on my prized New York Bakers kneading board.   But it was extensible enough to roll out to quarter inch thick strips.

The dough sheet is brushed with butter and the filling is spread over half (ok, I admit I made a bright yellow Pillsbury cake mix cake for the crumbs).

Then, its folded and sealed and stretched and divided.

Then the pieces are cut and bent to make the bear claw shape (some nicer than others).

After about a 75 minute proof, the pastries are brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sliced almonds (the recipe omits the almonds, but I don’t like my claws bare).

After baking, they get a brushing of simple syrup.  And they’re ready for their close-up.

These are delectable!  The filling is just like the best bakeries’.  The dough is not too sweet and has a nice moist texture, but with an eggy crust.

One recipe into my experience with Inside the Jewish Bakery, I’m happy, and looking forward to trying more.

Thanks, again, Norm and Stan.  Good work!



asfolks's picture

Those look great, I will have to try them when my book gets here.

I'm curious, do you make your own almond paste?

Thanks for posting.


GSnyde's picture

Thanks, Alan.  They taste as good as they look.

I used store-bought almond paste.  I might try this with homemade nut filling some time. Maybe pecan!


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I thought traditional bear claws were made with a laminated dough like Danish dough or even puff pastry.

Guess not.

They look delicious.

GSnyde's picture

Think Tevye in Fiddler.

There are many traditions in baking, including Jewish baking.  Norm and Stan do make the point in their book that you can combine different doughs, fillings and toppings to your taste.  Having made bear claws with Danish dough, I can say that that's good, too.  This coffee cake dough is a bit denser and less fatty and sweet, and not flaky at all.  I will try Bear Claws with Danish dough again, but will definitely use this filling recipe.

Many variations occur to me.  For instance, I think using chocolate cake crumbs might be fantastic.

Thanks for the comment.


dmsnyder's picture

Those look fantastic, Glenn.

I've had my Cheese Pocket quest on hold for a few years. Does the dough you used for these bear claws resemble that of Karsh's cheese pockets, by any chance?


GSnyde's picture


Thanks.  They are yummy!

I remember the dough in Karsh's Cheese Pockets as lighter and fluffier that this dough (maybe more milk and shortening/butter), but it's in the same ballpark.  



arlo's picture

Nice Glenn, bear claws are a killer treat and you really did that recipe justice it looks like.

In regards to bear claws with coffee cake dough, I was interested in that idea when I opened the book up today and saw the recipe. I have only made them with danish dough but I feel it will still be a great product!

GSnyde's picture

Try it. You'll like it.


SylviaH's picture

This is so much less work and they look delicious!  

I have to admit, I haven a big weakness for almond croissants and, these would be a nice alternative to less fat and work.

 The cakey almond filling, is just so delicious...I guess now your hooked : ) 

I have a freezer full of fresh almond meal and even cans favorite from, 'Love and Bake Almond Paste' even a box of 'voted best taste for yellow boxed cake mix' "lol" Betty C. Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix.  BCSMoist does taste the best, for boxed, I have to agree.  

A great way to have the cake crumbs on supply, next time you bake a scratch some, it freezes great.


GSnyde's picture

This almond filling is outstanding.  It would be great in almond croissants.

I used the stuff that comes in a foil cylinder

Thanks for the comment, Sylvia.


Elagins's picture

and thanks for pointing out the inconsistency in the fillings instructions. We'll fix it in the second edition  (hopefully).


GSnyde's picture

Good recipe.  I'm gonna try the Almond Horns some time soon.


EvaB's picture

you just hit my all time fav in saying pecan, never thought of making it with something other than Almond, by the way there is a recipe for almond paste in the book (not the fiddly one with egg whites etc) but I sure think pecan would be deluxe as well.

Now I've seen them in all their glory, I shall have to make some. I like the less is more idea of the coffee cake dough over the Dainish, which I've made before, but to me it was like eating a slice of bread with slight almond flavour and some icing and sliced almonds on.