Bear with me….

Life is often funny. Sometimes in the literal sense and sometimes in the ironic. Ironic is what I have going on. And more of the tragic irony.
You see when we got the Daring Baker challenge(which I actually finished early again) I knew that I would have to alter the shape in some way. For we were making braided breads. I have a thing(not really a rule but a thing) in which I only bake braided bread when I lose someone to death. Having not lost anyone to death in awhile I did not want to “jinx” it so to speak(I am superstitious) and so I made bear claws instead. Really big ones….I call them bears on steroids claws, because I gave then like twelve claws each. I guess I was in the go big or go home mood that day(or the if I make them smaller it will take less time mood. :P )
This last Wednesday morning my father received a phone call letting him know that his best friend and a man we called my uncle Red had passed the night before from a heart attack. Now my uncle Red was not in what you would call the best of shape and though it was not a total shock, what was is that he was to be visiting my parents in less than a week.
Almost all of my memories of uncle Red are from my youth, all of them good. So I am deeply saddened.
My first item is the danish. Having no desire to roll out all those layers again, I chose to go with a simple Challah bread to honour him, which you see pictured last. To see some of the lovely braided danishes using the same dough recipe, check out the Daring Bakers website. Thanks to Ben and Kelly for picking a great challenge(even though I couldn’t do the braided part).

Bear Claws

Danish Dough(recipe follows)
Almond Paste Filling(recipe follows)
Fondant Glaze(recipe follows)


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe) 
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.  Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice.  Mix well.  Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.  You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer:  Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.  Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.  Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain.  Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.  Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.  With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.  When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes.  You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.  Set aside at room temperature.
After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick.  The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.  Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.  Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.  Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.  The first turn has now been completed.  Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.  Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface.  The open ends should be to your right and left.  Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.  Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.  No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns.  Make sure you are keeping track of your turns.  Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.  The Danish dough is now ready to be used.  If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it.  To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze.  Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling.  Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Sherry Yard¢â¬â„¢s The Secrets of Baking

Almond Paste Filling

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup almond paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt and simmer for about 2 minutes the butter and brown sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cool slightly before using.

Divide dough in half. Roll out one half on a floured board into a 9-by-18-inch rectangle. Sprinkle half of the almond filling over the dough. Fold outside third of dough toward center. Fold dough once more to make three layers. Pinch ends of dough to seal. Cut into nine 2-inch sections. Make four 1/4-inch cuts through the open side of each section.

Place on greased baking sheets and shape into bear claw by separating the four cut sections. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and filling.

Let rise, uncovered, until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Combine egg yolk with water and brush the tops of bear claws. If desired, sprinkle with some chopped slivered almonds. Drizzle on glaze.

White Fondant Glaze

Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of orange extract and 6 TBSP to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.


  1. How wierd life can be. Your giant bear claws are so neat looking and the challah is beautiful.

  2. Your giant claws look great. Wouldn’t like to meet the bear they belong to though :)

  3. Your Bear Claws looks amazingly beautiful and delicious! You are forgiven ;-P! Anyway, you did a wonderful job here, as usual!



  4. Your Bear Claws looks appetizing and beautiful. As usual great pictures!

  5. So sorry to hear about your uncle, life is very strange sometimes.

    Your bear claws look lovely though and the challah too.

  6. sorry to hear about uncle Red. you made a beautiful challah in his honour. and your bear claws look darn tasty…almond filling is one of my faves!

  7. Beautiful claws and braid… and sorry to hear about your uncle.

  8. I am very sorry for your loss, Peabody.

    As for the DB challenge, I love that you did a bear claws; they came out beautifully.

  9. I’m sorry about your loss peabody… but the challah was a nice tribute. and i have to say i almost made bear claws but i ran out of frangipane!

  10. Almond filling – perfect! Those Bear Claws look just fantastic too. Super job as usual Peabody. Sorry anout your Uncle Red…

  11. Beautiful, Peabody! And I’m sorry for your family’s loss.

  12. The bear claws are great and the Challah bread is truly gorgeous. I’m very sorry for the loss of someone so dear to your family.

  13. So sorry for your family’s loss, Peabody. Your bear claws turned out beautifully.

  14. Peabody, your story is definitely the epitome of tragic irony in life – I’m terribly sorry for your loss. The challah bread is a truly wonderful tribute to him; and the bear claws look fabulous as well.

  15. That must have been a huge bear! You’re right, life is so ironic sometimes… I’m sorry for your loss. Your claws are amazing and so is your hallah.

  16. So sorry about your uncle. Your bear claws look wonderful and that is one of the prettiest challah braids I’ve ever seen.

  17. Indeed, irony… and sadness. I am sorry about your Uncle Red. I think it’s a wonderful thing that you make braided breads in honor of loved ones who have passed on. It’s very touching, Peabody. I also love that your bear claws could fit Godzilla. While I am a huge fan of small bakes, I have to admit that the idea of making large ones to reduce time is VERY APPEALING :) Hope you’re feeling better and my sympathies go out to you and your family. xxoo

  18. I would not want to meet up with the bear that sported those claws. They’re huge! The challah is lovely and a fitting tribute to your uncle. Virtual hugs to you.

  19. Sorry to hear about your loss. Nice tradition you have going with the breads.

    In a slightly strange connection, I attended a visitation at a funeral home for the death of the dad of a young friend of mine who has been babysitting my son since she was 14 ( she’s now 24). Anyhow, I have earmarked my leftover danish dough to make them a Danish Braid and drop it over next week once all the hoopla of the funeral and such has faded. I guess there’s something iconic about braided breads that make them a good choice for soothing a loss?

  20. It’s beautiful and totally understanable why you didn’t braid. Lovely. Plus it gives everyone something else to look at!

  21. Looks delicious Peabody! I love that you made bear claws with the dough. I must say that they look fantastic! Especially pictured with a glass of milk!

  22. See, now I’m torn between chocolate croissants and bear claws for the other half of my dough. Hmm…. Yours look so good!

  23. Your immense claws are gorgeous. I’m sorry about your Uncle Red… I’m sure he would appreciate the perfect challah.

  24. See, if it were me, I would have gone with a ‘nuclear’ theme in the filling, to justify the 12 claws. ;)

    They look quite yummy!

  25. Maybe no bear ever had claws like those, but these Danishes look yummy.
    I made a few multi toed Danish claws too!

  26. I’m sorry to hear about your Uncle Red.
    I really like how your bear claws have so many claws too. I think they kick ass.

  27. Sorry for your loss, Pea :(
    They are quite beautiful claws (well-manicured, maybe), and a gorgeous challah to boot.

  28. You’ve done a fabulous job, well done :)

  29. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Your bear claws look great! Love the almond filling sounds scrumptious!

  30. I’m sorry about your loss Peabody. I think you picked a wonderful bread to honor him with!

    Your bear claws look delicious! I want one right now! yum!

  31. I am so sorry for your loss…but your bread is just beautiful. and the bear claws? seriously great.

  32. Oh, Peabody, sorry about your loss, but I think that´s a beautiful way of honoring him, and your bear claws look beautiful.

  33. Sorry to hear about your loss,really. On the other hand, the bear claw make me hungry all over again! Simply beautiful!!

  34. Irony. Yes. Sorry about Uncle Red.
    I love the bear claws, it’s so in tune with the versatility of this dough. And oh my yes Peabody almond filling, absolutely wonderful!!

  35. I’d like to tear into those bear claws with my bare claws! Looks wonderful!

  36. My condolences to your family.

    I am excited to see your recipe for the almond filling as I used a filling from a can. I will be keeping your recipe for my future use in this recipe!

    Great job with the bear claws – and your challah bread looks great too!

  37. Sorry to hear about your uncle, Peabody. Your bear claws look delicious (as does the challah braid, too!)

  38. Bear Claws!!!! What a fabulous twist (pun definitely intended…)!

  39. I love the idea of using this dough to make bear claws! How clever of you, as usual.

    I’m sorry about your Uncle Red, Peabody. Your tribute to the ones you lose with braided breads is a lovely gesture.

  40. What a beautiful set of bear claws for a special rememberance day. :-)

  41. I’m so sorry to hear about your Uncle.

    Your claws are awesome, I love how big they are, lol!
    The challah looks perfect too!

  42. How weird the timing. I love the look of your bear claws. And what a lovely challah. Im sure hes up in heaven chuckling at how yummy it all looks.

  43. These bear claws look so great! A good idea for the pastry dough for sure.

    So sorry to hear about your uncle, though. :(

  44. Peabody, I’m so sorry for your loss!

    Your pastries look and, I’m sure, taste wonderful.

  45. Lovely giant bear claws — and a beautiful challah to honor your friends.

  46. Sorry about your Uncle Red…but who knew? Your stupendous bear claws are amazing! Now I want to make bear claws! The lovely braid for Red at the end is beautiful! Life sure gets interesting, doesn’t it? Hugs to you Peabody.

  47. Sorry to hear about the death in your family – and a beautiful challah bread to celebrate his life! On top of that, your bear claws, big and lovely, look delicious. I love the white chocolate glaze…

  48. Those bear claws look amazing!

  49. Your Bear Claws look amazing. As usual great pictures!

  50. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I completely understand why you didn’t want to do the braid. Your bear claws and challah look great.

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