When I was in college, there was a small bakery at what would eventually grow to become the Alabang Town Center that sold a most delectable pastry filled with sweet crumbly-chewy marzipan, chocolate, and flaked almonds called a bear claw. Alas for me and my mother, the bakery closed down a few years later.
Just after college, when Starbucks first opened in the Philippines at Makati’s 6750, I found bear claws again. These were slightly different, though: sectioned puff pastry rolls filled with a sweetened pistachio mush and glazed with drizzled of white, sugary icing. Not quite like the bear claws of my adolescence, but just as nice. However, these weren’t popular among locals, so Starbucks took them off the menu a few years ago.
So, what’s a girl to do when she starts hankering for bear claws but there are no bakeries selling these ursine-named pastries? Easy: head into the kitchen and start baking!
These homespun bear claws are a throwback to the ones made at that little bakery in Alabang two decades ago in that these are made with sweet yeast-raised dough rather than puff pastry. As I didn’t have any marzipan on hand in the kitchen cupboards, I made do with Nutella instead. But, with Christmas coming up, I just might try my hand at baking puff-pastry claws filled with sugary almond paste, buttery toasted almond flakes, and a generous drizzle of melted dark chocolate.
In the meantime, try baking them yourself. 😉
- 500 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 50 grams white granulated sugar
- 7 grams (1 packet) fast-acting yeast
- 80 grams (about 3/4 of a stick) salted butter
- 150mL milk, plus more for brushing
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons Nutella
Sift together the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the yeast; set aside.
Put the milk and butter in a heatproof bowl and microwave on HIGH for a minute and 45 seconds. Remove from microwave and whisk in the eggs and almond extract till well combined.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon till a shaggy mess is achieved. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Form into a ball and cover with a clean dishcloth; place in a warm, draft-free place and leave to rise for an hour.
Punch down the risen dough; pre-heat oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.
Butter two standard-sized cookie sheets; set aside.
Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour. Divide the dough into quarters. Roll out one quarter into a rough rectangle. Evenly spread 1 tablespoon of the Nutella on one side and roll up into a log. Divide the log into four even pieces and make four cuts half-way into each portion, making sure to separate the loops as you arrange the rolls on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and Nutella.
Cover the finished rolls with a clean dishtowel and leave to prove for 15 – 20 minutes. Brush the tops of the rolls with milk and bake for 20 – 23 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before serving.
Makes 16 bear claws.
Serve them plain or, better yet, slather some softened cream cheese on these babies for a really splendid breakfast.