Do you want to try a donut that’s more fun than the regular donuts? If so, you should try bear claw donuts. These interesting pastries are shaped like bear claws, as their name suggests. These donuts can be powdered or glazed, and they can be filled with almond paste, apples, butter pecan, cream cheese, grapes, dates, or cherries.
Like many other doughnuts, bear claw doughnuts originated from the US. There is an ongoing discussion on whether the bear claw pastry is actually a donut because it has a texture that’s more similar to fritters. However, bear claw donuts have the same flavor and golden brown color as your typical donut.
Interesting Facts About Bear Claw Donuts
Bear claw donuts usually have a semi-circular or rectangular shape with “bear’s toes” carved on the edges. This is achieved by cutting slices on the edge of raw dough. As the dough fries in the hot oil, the “toes” will start to spread.
Bear claw donuts are often compared to fritter when it comes to their texture, which is somewhere between donuts and danish pastries. They were invented in the US around 1920.
In Denmark, bear claw donuts are called kamme, which means “combs”. In 1950, James Fennell invented a bear claw cutter, a simple, yet effective tool that allowed easier cutting of a bear’s “toes”.
Bear claw donuts helped fight cancer. You may wonder how, so I’ll try to explain it as short as possible. Hisashi Kambe, a Japanese computer scientist created an A.I. that could recognize different types of pastries by their shape, including the bear claw donuts.
Soon, the possible application of this technology was recognized among the medical experts, and they started using the same technology to recognize cancer cells by comparing their nuclei to the ones of the healthy cells.
To make a homemade bear claw donut, you will need to gather the ingredients. First, you will need the ingredients for the almond paste filling:
- 1 cup almond paste
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extracts
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
You will also need to gather the ingredients for the donut itself:
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 whole milk
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 6 cups of vegetable oil for frying
Additionally, you can add the ingredients such as raisins. Once you gathered all of the ingredients, it is time to make the donuts.
Step By Step On How To Make Bear Claw Donut
Let’s make the filling first:
- In a mixer bowl, combine almond paste, lemon zest, and powdered sugar. Mix the ingredients with an electric mixer for 20-30 seconds.
- Add the egg, almond, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Set aside.
Now let’s move to the fun part: making the dough.
- In one bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and yeast. Mix the ingredients shortly, as you don’t want to mix them too much.
- In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients: butter, milk, and water.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir everything together until you get a dough.
- In a large pot, preheat 3-4 inches of oil over medium-high heat until it reaches approximately 350°F. You can test if the oil has reached a high enough temperature by throwing a test piece of dough into the oil. If the dough bubbles and floats on the surface, the oil is hot enough.
- While the oil heats, you can roll the donut dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Once the dough is 1/4 inches thick, cut it into rectangular shapes.
- Place a tablespoon of almond filling on each rectangle and spread it into an even layer with an offset spatula.
- Pull one of the longer sides of the doughnut dough to roll it into a tight log.
- Make 5 incisions with a knife on one side of the “log”.
- Separate the pieces with your fingers a bit, and use your thumb to press each “toe” cut piece lightly into their shape.
- Curl the donut into the half circle.
- Let the donuts rise on the floured surface for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Once the oil is hot and the donuts have risen, place them gently into the hot oil.
- Fry them in several batches, and drain each batch on a plate lined with layers of absorbent paper towels.
- After they cooled for 5 minutes, sprinkle the donuts with powdered sugar and serve!
You can also make a gluten-free version if you want to stay healthy while enjoying your favorite bear claw donut. Gather the ingredients:
- 1/8 cup mozzarella
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoon stevia
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoon softened butter
- 3/4 cup chopped almonds
- 3 tablespoon stevia
Once you gather the ingredients, start with the preparation:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a microwave, melt the cheese for 30 seconds until it looks a bit like a cheese fondue.
- Place the rest of the ingredients, along with the melted cheese, into the food processor.
- Mix the ingredients until the dough becomes uniform.
- Divide dough into 6 squares and place them onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- In the food processor, finely chop the filling ingredients.
- Evenly spread the filling and roll the dough as described in the previous recipe.
- Cut each donut with several incisions to create “claws”.
- Beat one egg and use it to brush each donut.
- Sprinkle some chopped almonds over each donut.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown, for approximately 30-35 minutes
You can drizzle the donuts with a mixture of powdered sugar and cream. You just need to combine 1/4 cup of powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of cream and drizzle it over your freshly made puff pastry.
Easy Bear Claws
If you are one of those people who aren’t really adept at making and rolling the dough, you can use store-bought crescent rolls, like in this recipe:
- In a bowl, combine 1 egg, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, 2 teaspoons almond extract, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1/4 cup of water.
- Open 1 can of Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls and unfold the rolls, pressing them into rectangular shapes.
- Spread the filling over each piece of dough.
- Fold again each dough roll and brush it with a beaten egg.
- Sprinkle with chopped almonds.
- On one side, make 5-6 incisions on each roll, and use your thumb to gently press and shape the bear’s “toes”.
- Place the bear claws on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them rise for 15-20 minutes.
- While you wait for the donuts to rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the donuts into the preheated oven and bake them for 15-18 minutes, or until they become golden brown.
- Allow the donuts to cool down a bit before serving and eating them.
- You can also use a mixture of powdered sugar and cream to drizzle and decorate each donut.
How many calories does the bear claw donut have?
The answer depends on the size of the bear claw donut, as well as on the filling inside. For example, Winchell’s Bear Claw Fancy Donut has a whopping 700 calories, with 43,5% carbohydrates, 49,6% fats, and 7,0% proteins.
Homemade bear claw donuts usually have fewer calories per serving, especially if you make them from healthy and low-calory ingredients.
Where can I buy bear claw donuts?
You can buy bear claw donuts in Walmart, Panera Bread, Red Barn Donuts, Kroger, etc… However, some of the most popular donut food chains in the US – Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme don’t sell this delicious pastry.
What does a bear claw donut look like?
Bear claw donuts have a semi-circular shape, with one side being sliced into toe-like shapes. Bear claw donuts can be powdered with sugar, plain, drizzled, or garnished with various toppings, such as chopped nuts.
Can you buy bear claw donuts outside the US?
Yes, you can buy them in Canada, the UK, Japan, Denmark, etc.
Bear claw donuts, a pastry invented in the early 20th century, continue to be a popular choice among donut lovers and other sweet-tooths. With various sweet fillings and toppings, bear claw donuts will satisfy even the most demanding consumers.
Have you ever tried a bear claw donut? If yes, do you prefer homemade or store-bought ones? Write in the comments!