Hello my lovelies!!
Another typical Alsatian pastry during those festive days! The manneles, or manalas, or Saint Nicolas little men!! Those little brioches shaped as little men make everyone very happy during Advent time and more specifically on Saint Nicolas day, today December 6th.
When I was young, my sisters and I used to wait for this day with a “tiny” touch of impatience! We knew that “Saint Nicolas” was going to come by the house during the night to bring us gingerbread, manneles, and clementines. Tradition … It was always the same excitment and joy when waking up that day! Growing up, it was obvious that I would keep this tradition, especially when I had my children, like my felow Alsatians do. And my kids love it too!!
If you follow the tradition to the letter, you will make a plain dough and just shape it as a little man with 2 raisins for the eyes and one for the mouth. But you know me, can I resist to making a chocolate chip version ? Of course not. And I won’t put only 3 chips!! This is Casserole&Chocolat(e) !! So I always make a raisin dough and a chocolate chip dough…
This way, you will get chicken pox little men!! 😉 I don’t care!!
Anyway, it might not be the worst here…
To shape your manneles, proceed like this: make an oval dough, press to shape the neck, cut with scissors to make the legs and then cut on both sides for the arms.
So, in theory, it’s a piece of cake. The truth… how to put it?… it more often looks like a Chewbaccas squad in a Star Wars movie!! 🙂 Some of them are even mixed with Darth Vador … Just imagine!!
It might actually be fun though… Another option is to use the appropriate punch…
And it gets much easier !! It’s nice, clean, this is what we call mannele!! So cute, right??
No need to say that:
1 – you can bake them all year long… why could we only enjoy those babies before Christmas??
2 – the little men can be easily freezed. Once cooled down on a grid, put them right away in your freezer. Let them defrost at room temperature and, if you want, put them back in the oven 1 minute at 160 degrees to make them a little bit softer.
So now, have a great Saint Nicolas day! I’m sending you schmutz (kisses) as we say in Alsace…
And now, the recipe, Chef!
Saint Nicolas Little Men
- 500 g flour
- 120 g butter at room temperature
- 100 g sugar
- 10 g yeast powder
- 200 g milk
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 g salt or 2 teaspoons
- 100 g golden raisins or chocolate chips
- 1 egg yolk and a tablespoon of milk for the golden color
Warm the milk in your microwave oven. Add the yeast and mix until full dissolution.
Add the sugar then the egg and egg yolk previously mixed.
In your food processor bowl, put the flour and salt.
Start at medium speed and add slowly the milk+yeast+sugar+eggs mixture.
After 2-3 minutes, your dough should be smooth. Add the butter cut in pieces.
Mix for at least 5 minutes until you get a sticky but smooth dough (help with a spatula if necessary).
Pour the raisins or chocolate chips on the dough and mix at low speed for one minute.
Cover your bowl with a clean linen in a warm place.
After 2 hours, your dough should have doubled. Press gently your hands on the dough so that to remove gas for the little holes. (it will prevent from having a strong yeast taste).
Make small oval doughs, and press to make a head, use scissors to make legs and arms (like on the pic above), place them on your silicon mats and let them grow again for one hour.
After one hour, preheat your oven at 180 degrees.
Gild your little men with the egg yolk and milk.
Bake 15 minutes.
After baking, place on a grid for cooling.