Everybody has favorite foods, that which makes you happy, that which makes your mouth water. For me, it’s bear claws. Just ask any member of my family. On my two or three times a year trips to Bakersfield, California, to see family, I’d stay at my mom’s for a couple weeks each time and often be in charge of dinner where the family would gather most nights. On every trip, at least once, we’d have bear claws for dessert—to nobody’s surprise. And Mom and I would have them for breakfast more than once.
In Bakersfield, there are two places I know of where they sell very good bear claws—Smith’s Bakery just a few blocks from my sister’s house, which I remember from way back during my college days in Bakersfield. Smith’s Bakeries have been a part of Bakersfield since 1945. The other one is the bakery at Albertson’s where my sister and I would shop for groceries for Mom. I ‘m very picky about bear claws and both Smith’s and Albertson’s rate right near the top.
At the very top are the bear claws at Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene. A bear claw with a cup of cappuccino at Sweet Life is absolutely to die for. And a “bear paw” at Bread and Roses in Yachats with a cup of coffee was an every-Sunday treat when I participated in the Yachats Farmers Market. They are a little smaller, but very good—near the top also.
There is a bakery down the coast that has a globby frosting on top of their bear claws—yuck! I’ve had giant ones at a couple of places, both in Oregon and California, and they just don’t measure up.
Most people are familiar with bear claws but in case you’re not: “A bear claw is a sweet, yeast-raised pastry, a type of Danish (pastry), originating in the United States during the mid-1920s. In Denmark, a bear claw is referred to as kamme,” according to Wikipedia.
Most Danish pastries include the same basic ingredients––eggs, yeast, flour, milk, sugar, and butter. But a bear claw has a unique shape. It’s usually shaped in a semicircle with slices along the curved edge. As the dough rises, the sections separate, resembling the shape of a bear‘s toes or claws. Most often, it’s filled with almond paste (any other filling just doesn’t do it for me) and topped with slivered almonds. A glaze is often drizzled over the top. (My mouth is watering just writing this.)
Almost as good are maple bars. The reason I’m partial to maple bars goes back to when I was little. Mom and Dad would go grocery shopping and come home with a large pink box filled with maple bars. My brother, sister, and I could hardly wait until the box was opened. It’s a fond memory. I saw a large pink box on some Facebook post the other day. Wham! Nostalgia hit! I instantly became a kid again. Some bakeries still use them.
I can get good maple bars at the bakery at Freddies here in Florence, but they don’t have bear claws. I just discovered that Safeway’s bakery has bear claws, so I called in an order. I wanted four; that way, I would freeze two. But the baker said they were already packaged for six. I told her fine; I could handle that. I’ll freeze three. I asked about pink boxes. No, she said, they don’t use them. But she did tie the package of six with a pink ribbon. What a sweetie!
I had one Sunday after I picked them up, and another yesterday afternoon with a cup of tea. They are very good, almost as good as the one’s at Sweet Life. All this writing about bear claws is getting to me. I’m going to have to stop and eat that last one. For me, happiness is a break in the afternoon with a bear claw and a cup of tea! Ahh, sheer bliss!! . . . (And there are three more in the freezer!)