Bear Claw vs Apple Fritter (Sweet Showdown)

Bear Claw vs Apple Fritter

If you’re a pastry lover like I am, the chances are pretty good that two of your all-time favorite sweet treats are bear claws and apple fritters.

And why shouldn’t it be that way?

You can’t go wrong with either!

Each bite of an apple fritter is like having a slice of deep fried apple pie while the creamy center of a bear claw simply oozes with each bite of its flaky, tender crust.

I don’t know about you but I’m getting very hungry all of a sudden!

Okay before I get too carried away, let’s get to the real reason you’ve stopped by today – learning about all the differences between apple fritters and bear claws. 

The difference between apple fritters and bear claws is that apple fritters are made from a type of fried dough (or batter), whereas bear claws are a type of danish pastry (or laminated dough) that is baked.

There are several additional differences between these two beloved treats and we’ll be taking an up close look at all of them.

Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading, you’ll be well informed but hopefully not hungry as I am!

Differences in History and Origin

Of these two delicious delights, apple fritters are the oldest.

Fritters of all kinds have a long history to them. Some believe their creation stretches back to Roman times. It’s thought that “fritter” is a derivative of the Latin, “frigere” which loosely translates to mean “fry” or “roast”. 

Fritters weren’t always sweet and early versions could just as easily been made of meat or vegetables. So long as they were fried, the term fritter could be used to describe therm.

Curiously, during the Middle Ages it was believed that eating fritters could be dangerous unless they were consumed when hot. Whether this was due to superstition or not is unknown but no one can argue that a fritter tastes delicious – hot or not!

It’s not known exactly when apple fritters were invented but one of the earliest known recipes dates to the mid-1700s. Known as “Hasty Apple Fritters”, this simple recipe combined basic ingredients like batter, lard, sugar and, of course, apples!

Like apple fritters, the invention of bear claw pastries is a bit of a mystery.

Most experts point to some time during the early 1900s, between 1910 to 1920. One of the earliest clues to this was a newspaper ad by a now defunct department store chain in Los Angeles, California, known as Hamburger & Sons.

The ad promoted “apple filled bear claws” on multiple occasions between 1915 through 1917, offering them for a price of five cents each.

Good luck getting a deal like that at your local bakery today!

Item History Earliest Known Recipe/Reference
Apple Fritters Long history dating back to Roman times. Mid-1700s, “Hasty Apple Fritters”
Bear Claw Pastries Invention is a mystery. 1910-1920, advertised by Hamburger & Sons in Los Angeles, California

Differences in Ingredients

Like most foods that stand the test of time, both apple fritters and bear claws have simple, yet different, ingredients.

Some mistakenly classify apple fritters as doughnuts.

While there are similarities, doughnuts do not require additional ingredients beyond the dough, whereas apple fritters, as well as fritters in general, require the addition of apples. Other popular ingredients you’ll find in apple fritter recipes (besides apples) include flour, milk, eggs, salt, cinnamon, butter and sugar (also as a glaze).

Similar to apple fritters, bear claws are often classified as doughnuts but they’re closer to Danish pastries because of the type of dough used to make them.

Known as sweet dough, it’s similar to bread dough but often contains more shortening. This tends to make the bear claw flaky and buttery. In contrast to apple fritters, bear claws are usually filled with a combination of almond paste and raisins.

Otherwise, the ingredients you’ll find most often in bear claw recipes include sugar, milk, flour, yeast and eggs. 

Ingredient Apple Fritters Bear Claws
Apples Yes No
Flour Yes Yes
Milk Yes Yes
Eggs Yes Yes
Salt Yes No
Cinnamon Yes No
Butter Yes Yes
Sugar Yes (as glaze) Yes
Almond paste No Yes
Raisins No Yes
Yeast No Yes

Differences in Taste and Texture

Since apple fritters are deep fried, they have a very different taste and texture than bear claws (which are usually baked).

Perhaps the best way to describe the taste of an apple fritter is to imagine a slice of deep fried apple pie or a cross between apple pie filling with the mouthfeel of a doughnut.

In addition, most apple fritter recipes call for either a sugary glaze or dusting of powdered sugar once frying is finished. This adds an extra dimension of sweetness to the apple fritter and when combined with the warmth of apples and cinnamon, it’s not hard to see why they’re so popular with kids and adults alike!

Because bear claws are baked and use yeast, they feature a flaky crust which translates into a lighter mouthfeel than the deep fried texture of apple fritters.

In addition, bear claws are filled (usually with almond paste and raisins). This imparts a creamy flavor and, when combined with the satisfying chewiness of raisins, is it any wonder that bear claws have been a breakfast favorite for well over a century?

Feature Apple Fritters Bear Claws
Cooking Method Deep Fried Baked
Taste Deep Fried apple pie Lighter flaky crust
Texture Doughnut-like Lighter mouthfeel
Additional Flavors Cinnamon, sugar glaze or powdered sugar Almond paste, raisins

Differences in Production

Bear claws are defined by a very specific shape and design.

Filled dough is sectioned into rectangular pieces and then a series of cuts are made along the folded edges of it. The resulting shape loosely resembles the claw of a bear, hence the name.

Originally, bear claws were made by hand and for the first half of the 20th century, this was standard practice and in most home kitchens, it still is.

However, to produce the uniquely shaped treats at scale, an invention appeared in the 1950s that made the process much simpler.

Known as a “bear claw cutter” or “bear claw pastry cutter”, this specialized tool greatly increased the speed at which these beloved treats could be produced.

A man named James Fennell is credited with the invention which he filed a patent for in 1947. US740209A was granted in June 1950 and expired in June 1967.

He coined the term “bear claw cutter” to describe the tool whose primary function was to mechanically create incisions into folded pastry dough, giving it the appearance of a bear claw.

Bear claws are most often oven baked but can be fried.

Since fritters are a much older than bear claws, they employ a much simpler method of creation.

Although ingredients will vary from one recipe to another, often apples are combined with dough, which is mixed together thoroughly and then deep fried.

Apple fritters are not characterized by a special shape or size, which means no specialized baking tools are needed to create them.

Bear Claws Apple Fritters
Defined by specific shape and design Not characterized by specific shape or size
Rectangular pieces with cuts made along folded edges Dough mixed with apples and deep fried
Originally made by hand, now often produced with specialized tool No specialized tools needed
Oven baked or fried Deep fried
Invented in the 1950s by James Fennell Much older than Bear Claws
Patent filed in 1947, expired in 1967 N/A
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