Bear claw

A bear claw is a sweet, yeast-raised pastry, a type of Danish, originating in the United States during the mid-1910's.[1][2][3][4] In Denmark, a bear claw is referred to as kamme.[5] France also have an alternate version of that pastry: patte d'ours (meaning bear paw), created in 1982 in the Alps. The name bear claw as used for a pastry is first attested in March 1914 by the Geibel German Bakery,[1] located at 915 K Street in downtown Sacramento.[6][7] The phrase is more common in Western American English,[8] and is included in the U.S. Regional Dialect Survey Results, Question #87, "Do you use the term 'bear claw' for a kind of pastry?"[9]

Bear claw
TypePastry, doughnut or fritter
Place of originUnited States
Main ingredientsDough, almond paste
Ingredients generally usedRaisins

Ingredients and shape

Most Danishes include the same basic ingredients such as eggs, yeast, flour, milk, sugar, and butter.[5] The bear claw is also made with "sweet dough" which is "bread dough with more shortening than usual".[10] One of the differences between most Danishes, besides taste, is seen in their shape.[5] A bear claw is usually filled with almond paste,[11] and sometimes raisins, and often shaped in a semicircle with slices along the curved edge, or rectangular with partial slices along one side.[12] As the dough rises, the sections separate, evoking the shape of a bear's toes, hence the name.[13] A bear claw may also be a yeast doughnut in a shape similar to that of the pastry.[13] Such doughnuts may have an apple pie-style filling, or other fillings such as butter pecan, dates, cream cheese, grape or cherry.


A bear claw can be made by hand or by machine.[14] Bear claw can be hand-made by using a bear claw cutter that was invented in 1950 by James Fennell.[15] A 1948 patent describes the process of assembling the bear claw as rolling out the dough, layering filling onto it, folding the dough over, cutting small incisions to create the claw-like look, and finally cutting the dough into separate pastries.[14] The pastry can be curved into a half-circle at this point, which causes the "toes" to separate.[16]

Health and nutrition

Similar to other pastries, the bear claw is typically high in carbohydrates and fats. Example nutrition information can be seen from a version produced by the restaurant chain Panera Bread.[17]

See also


  1. "Rolls; Friday Special Assortment of French Pastries". The Sacramento Star. March 13, 1914. p. 6. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  2. "Hamburger's: Children's Day!---Outfit the Boys and Girls!; Baked Goods". Los Angeles Evening Express. April 9, 1915. p. 18. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  3. "Young's Market Co.; The New Store". Los Angeles Evening Express. July 2, 1915. p. 20. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  4. "Oatmeal Cookies; Special Every Saturday, Superior Home Bakery". Lincoln News Messenger. January 28, 1916. p. 2. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  5. Roufs, Timothy G., and Kathleen Smyth Roufs. Sweet Treats around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Gale eBooks. Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.
  6. "Auction Sale by Order Bankrupt Court: Geibel German Bakery, 915 K Street". The Sacramento Bee. November 23, 1914. p. 8. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  7. "Retail For Lease — 915 K St, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA". Colliers. "915 K Street is in the heart of a hip and diverse Downtown Sacramento." Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  8. "Bear claw". Dictionary of American Regional English. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  9. "Dialect Survey Results". Joshua Katz, Department of Statistics, NC State University. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  10. “Frozen Cakes and Pastries.” ID : the Voice of Foodservice Distribution, vol. 29, no. 11, 1993, p. 113.
  11. FrancesC. "Almond Bear Claws". Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  12. Della-Piana, Patricia. J'eat? Playful Cookery. Lulu. p. 356. ISBN 9781300921059.
  13. Pastry, Joe. "The Bear Claw". Joe Pastry. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  14. Le, Conie Stiles (Jan 13, 1948), Production of coffee cakes, retrieved 2016-03-24. US Patent US 2434339 A. Filed 1944-03-22. Granted 1948-01-13.
  15. C, Fennell James. “Bear Claw Cutter.” 1950.
  16. Mushet, Cindy, Sur La Table (2008-10-21). "Bear Claw". The Art and Soul of Baking. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 118. ISBN 9780740773341.
  17. "Panera Bear Claw Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 2020-10-29.
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