Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bear Claws with Orange and Almond

I know what you are thinking, what the heck do the cute little teddy bears have to do with Danishes.  I'm in the middle of a double move, we are bringing college girl back home in a couple of days and I'm packing up my house so we can move as soon as my other daughter gets out of school.

I thought about being all organized and having guest posters and other ways to fill the void, but I must face facts here, I'm tired and the next couple of weeks will be just plain craziness.  Hopefully you can attempt these lovely bear claws to help you fill the void of my absence for the next couple of weeks.

I've been putting off the packing, like some magical packing fairy will come do it for me.  We are moving to a much smaller place, so some stuff has to go, hence part of the problem.  When I came across these bins in my closet with mementos the girls had given me over the years, I found these teddy bears.

The reality of the move has started to sink in and I've been a little sad, so I decided why not do a little baking to cheer myself up.

Danish Dough  Adapted from Cindy Mushet the Art and Soul of Baking
1/4 cup warm whole milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cold large egg
3 ounces cold whole milk
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest from 1 orange 

Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, the egg and cold milk. Whisk the yeast mixture into the egg mixture.  Add the flour, salt and orange zest. Attach the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for 1 - 2 minutes.  Dust a work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto it.  Knead the dough 3 to 5 times just to finish bringing it together.  The dough will not be smooth; it will become fully kneaded and smooth during the rolling and turning process. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Butter Block
1 1/2 (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Toss the butter pieces with the flour and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  In the cleaned stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the floured butter on medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a silicone spatula, for 1 or 2 minutes, until the butter and flour form a smooth mass. You are not trying to beat air into the mixture, just make it pliable and smooth. Scrape the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, wrap it up and refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour.  Set the dough in the center and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle with a short side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Gently pull or stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners.  Brush any flour from the surface.  Visually divide the dough crosswise into 3 equal, 5-inch wide sections.  Spread the cold but pliable butter evenly over the top two sections of dough, leaving the bottom third empty and leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the buttered sections.  This is best done with your fingers.  

Fold the empty bottom third up over the center third of the dough.  Then fold the top third down over the center.  Pinch together the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough.  Roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough a couple of times to seal the dough.  If your butter is still cool you can do a second turn now, if not wrap it and put it back in the refrigerator for a few.

Position the dough with the short side parallel to your work surface and the long fold on your left. Dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle.  Brush any flour from the surface of the dough. Fold the dough using the book fold method:  Fold the two short edges into the center of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch crevice between them.  Line up the edges and square the corners as you fold.  Now fold one side over the other, as though you were closing a book. Roll your pin across the top of the dough 3 or 4 times to seal.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and repeat the process in the last paragraph, so you have a total of 3 folds.  Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours before using.

Orange and Almond Filling
2 ounces almond paste
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
Zest from 1 orange
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Break or cut the almond paste into small pieces and put them in the bowl of the food processor. Add the sugar and process 20-30 seconds. Add the butter and process or mix until well blended. Add the egg, orange zest, and flour.  Process until combined.  Place into a disposable piping bag and set aside.

Dust your work surface with flour.  Place the dough in the center and dust with flour. Roll into 16 by 12 by 1/4-inch rectangle.  Position the dough so that one of the long edges is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Using a ruler and a chef's knife, mark the dough at 4-inch intervals. Cut the dough into 12 (4") squares.

Cut a small amount of the tip of the pastry bag off and pipe a 3-inch long line of filling in the center of each square.  Brush the edges with a thin film of water, then fold the dough over the filling.  Press to seal.  Cut 4 or 5 1/2-inch long slits through the bottom sealed edge of each pastry.  Place onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silpats.  Curve the pastries into a smile so the slits separate and form a claw.

Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the claws rise in a cool spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and position a rack in the center.  Chill the bear claws for 15 minutes. This will make for a flakier texture.  In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk.  Brush the claws with egg wash and sprinkle each one with sliced almonds, or place on toes.  

Bake one sheet at a time for 14 to 16 minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack. 

Confectioners' glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon milk (or more until thin enough to drizzle)

Combine all the above in a bowl. 

Once cooled drizzle bear claws with confectioners' glaze.

See all those yummy layers of pastry; it's because we went through all that trouble to book fold the dough.  I hope you try this recipe and keep yourself busy during my absence.  

Peace out from the Teddies,



  1. Gina - I have not yet had breakfast and just saw your post for these divine bear claws. Boy I wish I had one right now. They look divine! Good luck with the moving!

  2. Fantastic! Love pastries but have never ventured to make them. Maybe one quiet day I will. Love the almond and orange filling. The bears must be so happy. Good luck with the move.

  3. Moving is NOT fun. I'm so sorry you have to do it. Hope the delicious pastries helped cheer you up and that everything goes smoothly for you.

  4. Good luck with all the moving, I know how crazy that can be! Fantastic looking pastries though, they look perfect.

  5. Moving is always crazy and draining. These danishes would definitely make me feel better during the craziness though. Beautiful job and I love the almond/orange flavoring.

  6. These look fabulous. Where do you find the time! We're contemplating downsizing and the task is quite daunting. Ar you going far?

  7. Gina, these are so much work to make and so temptingly beautiful, I'm so so impressed, girl you are an inspiration to me;-)
    I also don't envy you the hard work and craziness of the move but I know you're happy about where you're going so it will all be worth it!

  8. What a wonderful treat to have in the middle of all the chaos! Those are the best looking bear claws I have seen in a while, great post. For a few of those, I would even help you move!

  9. Gina, that looks fantastic! And that looks quite a bit of work... The almond/orange filling sounds really yummy... Good luck with the moving. I know that can be a stressful time. But with treats like these, I know you'll get through just fine! :)

  10. Oh, my gosh! What a fabulous, flaky pastry! Perfect stress reduction recipe...mmmmmm.

    Good luck with your moves, Gina...hope it goes smoothly~

  11. This is an amazing pastry! Good luck with the move - they are always hectic!

  12. Oh my goodness Gina, this is amazing! I love this kind of pastry for breakfast or snack..looks very tasty, and I love your pictures!

  13. Wow these bear claws look amazing!!!! I've never thought to make my own bear claws before but they look amazing. Yum!

  14. Goodess you are one busy Mama!! How far are you guys moving? Hope the packing goes well.
    These treats look absolutely professional!! I've always had a soft spot for bear claws... if I were to make them I'm not sure I'd be able to stop at just one!

  15. Holy moly! You sound incredibly busy! I hope that things go smoothly for you over the next few weeks. So excited for you that your baby girl is coming home!

    These look really delicious too!

  16. YUMMO! That filling! And the glaze! Beautiful recipe, Gina... I wish I could grab it off my screen.

    Good luck with the move... I hate moving...I know how you feel. :(

  17. Your bear claws look absolutely perfect! The dough recipe is terrific and i love the almond filling with the addition of orange.

  18. Ugh, packing is such an ordeal! A double move sounds doubley dreadful. Best of luck to you! And thank you for leaving us with this awesome recipe! I've only had pre-packaged bear claws before, and judging from your pictures, I have no idea what I've been missing!

  19. I feel the emotional moment during this move. You must have lots of memory there. It's always hard to leave, but once you leave, you only have a new life ahead. :-) You will create more memory at a new place. Your bear claws are amazing, and I especially love the orange zest in it!!! As I get older (not sure if this has to do with anything) I start to like more and more citrus flavor. I guess I just can't take pure sugar... Good luck with the move. Enjoy making new memories!

  20. These look so light and delicious. Much good luck on your move

  21. Great looking happy-cheering up pastries. Once you start the packing process tho, it will fly by. Take care and see you when you get back!

  22. I know what it is like to move to a smaller place! I am a procrastinator when it comes to packing. It's more than just packing stuff - there's a whole lotta memories there!
    I hope it goes smoothly for you.
    And I love that you posted this recipe because my husband was just talking about one of the older ladies he knew growing up who used to make the best bear claws. I'm thinking this recipe might be good for a bribe or

  23. I love love love this recipe. I can't wait to try it.

  24. Aw Gina your Teddies are so adorable and what sweet mementos. I hope your packing is going well and that you settle nicely into your new home very soon.

    These Bear Claws would be devoured instantly in my house. As a matter of fact I would have to hide them from my hubby. I'd share, no really I promise ;) I'll be looking forward to your return.

  25. Love ur blog... I am a Foodie and a Mom too!!
    I can relate to you. Those Bear claws look flaky and delish & I am hungry for a bite:)

  26. This was such an adorable post! Gina, your recipe looks fabulous! I love bear much! It goes way back to childhood for me and I was looking for a good recipe!
    Can't wait to try this! xo

  27. I'm in awe of your homemade puff pastry. These Danishes look simple but there's a lot of prep work beforehand, but in the end I'm sure they're worth it! I'm moving house next month too, Gina, so I know exactly how you feel...umm, can I borrow your packing fairy? ;-) Those teddies look precious, btw.

  28. Wow, Gina! This is not an every day kind of danish project. You would need several hours in the kitchen, just to make the the midst of your moving, and waiting for your daughter to come home from college (with a ton of dirty laundry addition)...No fun!

    At any rate, you are one SUPER MOM!...and baker!
    Such an exquisite and most elegant danish I have ever laid eyes on, not to mention how utterly delicious it is:D
    Love your photo set-up, so prefessional!
    Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and don't work so hard!

  29. Hope the bear claws lifted your spirits - they certainly did it for me :) Such flaky goodness! I feel for you - moving is no fun and all the memories can make a girl really emotional! Good luck and I know having your baby girl home will help :)

  30. Gina this looks fabolous! I am a teddy bear collector and have them all over the house.
    HAppy weekend.

  31. Moving is tiring and tons of work. This is so buttery and flaky! Love the filling too. Delicious and wish I had some for breakfast for tomorrow:)

  32. Those pastries look so darn inviting and great!

  33. This post should be making me happy because the bear claws are unbelievable looking and one of my favorite pastries, but instead I'm sad. I'm so far behind in my reading so even though I'm coming into this late, now I know there won't be anything else from you in a while ::sob::.

    Wishing you the best in the move. It is hard, I know. Know that you're missed and thought of!

  34. I think I got just a bit hungrier with each picture! These look awesome! Can we add these on the agenda for the macaron class? :)

  35. Saw your blog featured on Tracy's Living Cookbook and followed the link. Your pictures are incredible! I really envy those with camera skills. Looking forward to following your blog and seeing more.