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Archive for April, 2010

Bear Claws


These rate right up at the top of my favorite things.  I could have one bear claw with my morning coffee everyday for the rest of my life and not get tired of them.  But that aint gonna happen.  They are a 2 day process but they are not hard.  And oh, so worth it.  And here’s a shout out to Jessie, my daughters childhood friend, who remembered these and asked for the posting.  Sorry it took me so long, Jess.  Hope they’re as good as you remember…

Dough:

1 cup softened butter

1 pkg. dry yeast, I use fast rising or regular

1/4 cup warm water

3 eggs, room temp

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 small can evaporated milk (5 1/3 oz.)

3 1/3 cups flour (AP)

Get 3 small bowls or cups out to divide the eggs.  One bowl holds all 3 yolks. Second bowl holds 2 whites, last bowl holds 1 white. Put plastic wrap on the 1 egg white bowl and put in the fridge for tomorrow. Set the 2 whites aside for the filling. we’ll get there in a minute.

Melt the butter. Sprinkle yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar to proof. When it’s foamy and alive, about 5 minutes later, add butter, 3 yolks and rest of ingredients to the bowl and mix by hand. It will look more like batter than bread dough but thats OK. Put plastic wrap on it and put in fridge til tomorrow. On to the filling…

Filling:

1/2 cup butter, softened but not melted

8 ozs. almond paste (I buy the Odense, in 7 oz. roll) in baking isle-close enough

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

2/3 cup flour

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

almond extract (real, not artificial) (optional)

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds (I buy the sliced almonds and put in a mini-chopper/food processor) just pulse a few times, you don’t want them ground up too small

The almond paste tube can be hard to break apart sometimes.  I grate mine to get it all in small pieces easy to mix in..

In a medium mixing bowl with high sides, with a hand beater, beat butter with almond paste first, add 2 reserved egg whites, lemon peel, the dry ingredients.  I usually put a teaspoon or 2 of almond extract also but you don’t have to.  I’m just an almond freak.  When it’s all mixed together, put plastic wrap on top and chill it until tomorrow.

Tomorrow:

Roll out chilled dough into a 13 1/2 inch by 27 inch rectangle. This is a soft dough, even chilled, so use plenty of flour and check as you roll out, to make sure it’s not sticking to the counter.  I lift it carefully several times and re-flour under it to keep it free as I go.  Cut rectangle lengthwise into 3—4 1/2 inch strips.

Divide filling into 3 equal portions. Roll with hands (just like play dough) into 3 —27 inch long snakes.  Put a snake centered in each of the 3 strips.  Fold top half of each strip over the snake, then fold over the bottom half, press down gently to flatten snake a bit and pinch to join the 2 edges.  You can brush the top edge of the folded over dough with a bit of the reserves egg white (beat it with a fork a bit to break it up) it acts like a glue but is not all that necessary, then fold up the bottom half and press.  Cut each strip into 6 sections, lift each section onto a cookie sheet and flip it over.  Space them out a bit (no touching) because they need room to rise.  This usually takes at least 3 cookie sheets.  I spray them ( the cookie sheets) lightly with oil or just grease lightly. Take a sharp knife and cut 4  sections, just half way through, then bend the claws to spread the sections.  Brush the tops with the beaten egg white, sprinkle with a little sugar and press in some sliced almonds if you want.  Let rise in a warm place for about an hour–don’t expect them to double in size or anything but they should soften and rise a bit.  They will rise more in the oven.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15- 18 minutes, til golden brown.  I bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven, so the bottoms or tops don’t get too brown.  After 5 minutes cooling on the sheets, remove to racks to finish cooling.  Store in large ziplocks  or tupperware to keep from drying out.  They also freeze nicely.  Enjoy!

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