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A short story about Mannele / Mannala / Petit Bonhomme
„Petit bonhomne“ means „little guy“ in english. It is a variety of brioches shaped as little men served in Alsace for St. Nicolas. In the Germanic countries and regions, mannele have been linked to the celebration of St. Nicholas' Day since the 15th century. They represent a "good man" or "good holy man" who is none other than Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Lorraine. They also evoke the legend of the three little children returned to life by St. Nicolas. This legend was particularly described by Louis Pitz in his book called Contes et légendes de Lorraine.
Ingredients for Mannele:
500 g Flour
1 Packet (30 g) of Dry Yeast
100 g Sugar
100 g softened Butter (room temperature)
2 Eggs (room temperature)
200 ml lukewarm Milk
10 g Salt (I reduced it a lot)
In a stand mixer bowl, mix together flour and dry yeast. Add sugar, eggs, lukewarm milk and salt. Allow the stand mixer to knead the mixture for about one minute, add butter flakes and knead the dough once again for about 4 minutes. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes and knead it thoroughly once again by hand.
Without Cookie Cutters:
Divide the dough into four equally sized pieces. Then divide the dough quarters into three equally sized pieces. Make your mannele by forming each piece of dough into a cylinder. Squish the top into a head and make notches with scissors to shape the arms and legs (spread them a little).
Divide the dough into four equally sized pieces. Then divide the dough quarters into three equally sized pieces. Form each piece of dough into a cylinder. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the mannele.
Put the Mannele on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, decorate with raisins (to make the eyes etc.) and let them rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190 °C, brush the Mannele with egg (it will lead to a golden brown baked dough) and bake them for about 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.