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

A bear claw is a sweet, yeast-raised pastry, a type of Danish, originating in the United States during the mid-1910s.[1][2][3][4] In Denmark, a bear claw is referred to as a kam.[5] France also has 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]

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. ^ a b "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. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b Pastry, Joe. "The Bear Claw". Joe Pastry. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  14. ^ a b 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.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "Panera Bear Claw Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 2020-10-29.