Aaaaaaand we’ve officially reached the part of December where I snap.
Because ALL I WANT right now is a cold snap. ALL I WANT is a dusting of snow on the ground. ALL I WANT is to wear scarves and boots and mittens. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, you guys. And it’s straight up never going to happen.
It’s not like I don’t love Summer! I live 45 minutes away from any number of amazing beaches. It’s awesome. You eat ice cream, and get fish and chips and feel the sun on your shoulders and the wind in your hair. You taste the salt in the air, and stare out at the horizon,where the sky meets the ocean and it’s nothing short of life affirming.
AND YET. I don’t want that for Christmas.
I want log cabins, and wood fires and hot chocolates for Christmas. I want to eat Bear Claws at breakfast time. I want to bite off the crunchy bear-fingers one by one, before I devour the squidgy pocket of almond filling that’s left. And I want to stare out at the falling snow when I do it, and be cozy!
So for the next few weeks I just dust everything in powdered sugar and pretend. I try not to melt in the 37C/100F heat. And I mooch around the houses of people who have air conditioning (I have none). But hey, I bring Bear Claws when I come over! And Christmas spirit! That counts for something right?
Notes: This is my adaptation of the famous Processor Danish Pastry recipe by Beatrice Ojakangas, later reprinted in books by Dorie Greenspan and Nigella Lawson. Instead of using a processor, I used my kitchenaid, which I think produces a better pastry. It’s a lot more difficult to overwork the pastry in a mixer, and that’s really important here. What you want is to preserve nice big chunks of butter in the dough, so that when you roll it out and fold it over, you get layers of butter. Obviously, go ahead and use the processor method if that’s easier for you!
For the pastry:
3/4 cup (185ml) water
2 sticks (250g) cold butter
2 1/3 cups (350g) flour
7g dried yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dry milk powder
You need to start the pastry the night before. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch/1 cm chunks and place in the fridge – it needs to remain cold. Whisk together the water and egg and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining ingredients, and stir using the paddle, just to combine. Dump in all the butter, and paddle on low speed for 10 seconds before slowly pouring in the water and egg mixture and mixing until everything just comes together. Now, cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, you need to roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/8 inch or 1/2cm thick and three times as long as it is wide. Then, fold each short side of the rectangle over, so that you have three layers of dough folded on top of each other. Roll out the dough into a rectangle again, and repeat this process three times. Now, the dough can be refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. Meanwhile, make the filling!
For the filling:
1 stick (120g) butter
5 oz (120g) caster sugar
8 oz (200g) ground almonds
Cream together the butter and sugar, and then add the eggs and almond meal and mix until smooth.
TO ASSEMBLE the Bear claws, roll the dough out into a rectangle, 8 inches/20cm wide and again 1/8 inch/1/2cm thick. This should give you a long rectangle of dough, which you’re going to slice widthways into tenx8 inches/20cm long, 4 inch/10cm wide rectangles. Place a heaped tablespoon of filling into the centre of each rectangle and fold the edges over to make a square. Slice into the edge of the square three times to form the ‘claws’ and then place on a lined baking tray for an hour to prove. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/375F. When the bear claws have proved and are puffed up, bake them for 25-30 minutes or until deeply golden and risen. Dust with icing sugar and serve!
If it’s good enough for Nathan Fillion, it’s good enough for me.
HOLLA! Maybe I can lure him with these…
i will be traveling to -15 celsius snowy weather tomorrow – you’re invited! ha, bear claws are so reminiscent of my childhood, but i’ve actually never looked up a recipe. these look amazinG!! i gotta try them out!
These look amazing! I wish I could teleport you to Michigan and we could have these bear claws next to my fireplace and you can walk around in our snowy, barely 20 degree F weather just for kicks :)
I hate winter and love summer but I have to agree with you, it needs to be cold to feel like Christmas. I wouldn’t mind being in your shoes with 100 F in December (though I could do without the no A/C bit) :) Maybe iced coffee to go with that bear claw.
Love this. Can we trade houses? We have a light dusting of snow and all i want is a beach.
Umm.. sorry but I wanna eat fish and chips with the sun on my face.. For Realz.. and I would totally eat bear claws at the beach while singing jingle bells.. In fact that would be an ideal situation for me!! :)
there there, you live on the other half of the planet, it’s ok.
and you can totally eat these bear claws no matter the temperature because…how could you not??! they look SOOOO delicious!!!!
Can we swap? its freezing here! like, never ever want to leave the house or under my cozy blankets for that matter. But I hear we are getting a good dumping of snow this weekend and I can’t complain. snowy white christmas’ are the best.
love your blog by the way.
Oh goodness, girl those bear claws look amazing!
I’ve always wondered if Southern Hemispherians desired a white christmas… I love a cozy christmas, but basically am over it immediately after. It was 11F today, not cool (or too cool, maybe).
You could always come to NYC for the holidays! I’m pretty sure there will be some snow around Christmas time… :P
Bear claws!! These are one of those things I never thought a real person could make at home. But yours look fabulous.
Ah… another gorgeous treat from your awesome kitchen. I’ve never heard of bear claws before!
And I would gladly trade weathers with you – NY is FREEZING right now.
I’ve never had a bear claw, but they look very tasty!
So sorry about your weather situation! It seems terribly unfair. We had an unusual cold snap recently which basically meant being stranded athome due to icy roads — and missing out on that weekend’s holiday festivities. So I will count my blessings that it’s 45F and raining again now!
These look fabulous; bear claws are my husbands favorite. I’ve stayed away from fussy-sounding homemade pastry dough so far…. probably time to change that!
UGH, i’m so bad at using yeast but I really want to make these. Looks like it took you 2 days to make them? Would this be a good weekend project?
Sarah, I wish we could switch places!! I’m the biggest wimp when it comes to cold. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we’ve had this two week cold spell…and by cold I mean in the 40s F, and everyone is freaking out. Dunno if you saw the Jimmy Kimmel clip where he’s making fun of Los Angeles weather reporters, but if not you should google it. So anyway, yea, I would gladly take some scorching temps right now. Bear claws were one of my favorite treats when I was a kid. After a soccer tournament, my dad would regularly stop by the bakery and I would always gravitate toward the bear claws for some reason. Really cool to see this recipe. Thanks Sarah!! Stay cool down there :)
I feel ya, sister!California isn’t that hot, but it sure isn’t snowy and cold, either. I think a dusting of powdered sugar and some very wishful thinking is just the thing! I’ve never tried this pastry recipe but I’ve been meaning to for years!
I had blueberry filled bear claws in finlan-soo good! Hehe I just flew in from Canada where it is indeed freezing getting as far down as -50C! :o
YUMMMM, blueberry bear claws! Also, I’m well jealous of that cold!
My mother-in-law was hungarian and made these with a prune filling.