Last updated January 12, 2014

Pumpkin Bear Claws from Zestuous

Skip the doughnut shop. Pumpkin Bear Claws hot out of the oven will satisfy any growling tummy.

I was watching Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel last night and they featured a pastry made at Salty Tart in Minneapolis. The base was milk bread, and it was topped with strawberry jam, fresh strawberries, crumble and a powdered sugar glaze.

Milk bread is a sweet, tender bread made with milk (obviously), eggs and butter. I learned to create it while at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Pastry Chef Michelle Gayer’s strawberry tart inspired me to make a fall version, using pumpkin puree, cinnamon and cloves, quintessential flavors of the season.

Usually, milk bread is left to ferment overnight in the fridge, but I wanted this autumn brunch treat today. No time for fermentation. The recipe took two hours (15-20 minutes for the prep, 1 hour to rise and 40 minutes in the oven).

Pumpkin Bear Claws from ZestuousI divided my dough into 8 servings. My husband thought they were a little large, although he had no problem eating a whole one and taking bites of mine. You can divide the dough into however many portions you want. You’ll just have to adjust your baking time accordingly.

These pastries bake at a low temperature (325F / 165C). You want them to be soft on the inside and barely (or should I say BEARly) golden on the outside. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bear Claws

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 8 bear claws

Pumpkin Bear Claws


  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 grams milk)
  • 3 ½ cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. (10 grams) salt
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) butter, softened
  • ~¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Pumpkin Filling
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • Crumble
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • Maple Glaze
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Place yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Microwave the milk for 30 seconds. Add the warm milk to the mixing bowl and let the yeast proof for about 2 minutes.

Add the flour, egg and salt and knead by hand or with a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 2 minutes.

Add the butter. Continue kneading for 2-3 minutes. The dough should be very soft.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and divide it into 8 equal size pieces (about 110 grams each) and shape into rolls. Place on a silpat-lined baking sheet and let rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 325F (165C) degrees.

In another bowl, make the pumpkin filling by combining the pumpkin, sugar, egg, cinnamon and cloves.

In another bowl, make the crumble by combining the butter, flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, cloves and salt, using a fork or pastry blender.

Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over each roll.

Press the center down to flatten. Using a sharp knife, cut four slits into each roll to create the bear’s claw. Spoon pumpkin filling into the center of each flattened claw. Top evenly with the crumble.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and milk. Drizzle over the baked claws.

Serve warm.