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Prep 1 hr 30 mins
Cook 15 mins
Bear Claws get their name from three or four small cuts made in the pastry. Gentle bending and spreading of the pastry forms a bear claw. Bear Claws are made with a sweet yeast dough or Danish pastry dough. These are filled with dates, raisins and nuts. My late grandmother loved these, especially when they were fresh from the bakery! This recipe was originally printed in the Kitchen Mailbox column of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 29, 2001.
BASIC SWEET DOUGH
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 1⁄4 cup butter or 1⁄4 cup margarine
- 1⁄2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
- 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 1⁄2 cups unsifted flour
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (for brushing on the dough)
- 1 1⁄2 cups chopped dates
- 3⁄4 cup raisins
- 3⁄4 cup chopped nuts, divided
- 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon lemon rind
- 1 egg yolk, combined with 2 tablespoons water
- FOR THE DOUGH: Scald milk. Stir in sugar, salt, and butter. Cool to lukewarm.
- Measure warm water into large bowl and sprinkle on the yeast. Stir until dissolved. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture, eggs and half of the flour -- beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on a floured board and knead 8 minutes or place in an electric mixer with a dough hook until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top of dough.
- Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down and shape as desired.
- Divide dough in half. Roll out half of dough on floured board into a 9-by-18-inch rectangle. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
- Combine dates, raisins and lemon rind with 1/2 cup of the nuts and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Sprinkle half of this filling over the dough.
- Fold outside third of dough over center; fold again to make a 3-layer strip 18 inches long. Pinch ends to seal.
- Cut and divide into 9 2-inch sections. Make four 1/4-inch cuts in one side of each section. Place on greased baking sheets and shape into bear claws by separating the four cut sections.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Combine egg yolk and water. Brush rolls and sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts and remaining sugar.
- Let rise, uncovered, until doubled in bulk, about one hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.
I don't want to rate this until I try it again. I had to add at least another cup of flour to be able to kneed the dough by hand. It never rose properly, maybe my milk mixture was too hot, I'm not sure. Maybe I don't know what a Pittsburgh bear claw should taste like, but I wanted more filling and a moister pastry. I'll have to make them again sometime and hopefully they'll turn out better.