While we would like to be able to claim this idea as our own, the bear claw pastry has its own Wikipedia entry and was created in America in the 1930s. This nostalgic Danish pastry spin-off with its playful shape, complete with nuts to resemble nails, is filled with a creamy comforting pastry cream.
These are best served fresh on the day they’re made but you can freeze to keep them for another day.
1.Make pastry cream. Combine egg yolks, sugar and flours in a medium bowl. Bring milk and vanilla paste almost to the boil in a medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, gradually pour milk mixture into egg mixture. Return custard mixture to same saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl; cover surface directly with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature.
2.Combine yeast, 1 teaspoon of the caster sugar and half the milk in a small bowl; stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.
3.Place flour, cinnamon, salt and remaining caster sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the centre. Add yeast mixture, remaining milk and the egg; mix to a soft dough.
4.Turn dough on a floured surface; knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
5.Line three oven trays with baking paper. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 40cm x 45cm rectangle. Cut lengthways into four strips. Spoon pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm (½in) plain tube. Pipe pastry cream evenly down the centre of each strip. Brush edges lightly with some of the extra egg; fold pastry over to enclose, pressing edges to seal (custard will be along one half of the dough).
6.Cut each strip into quarters. Cut three slits, about 2.5cm apart, through the dough on the joined side to represent the “toes”; avoid cutting into the pastry cream. Insert almonds into the ends to represent “claws”. Place on trays then curve slightly; cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
7.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
8.Brush pastries with remaining extra egg. Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm, dusted with sifted icing sugar.
Instead of kneading by hand, you could use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.