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Männele or St. Nicholas Bread Recipe
 
Recipe
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Männele or St. Nicholas Bread
Flavors of Alsace
Total time: more than 2 hours

Preparation: 30 minutes
Rising time: 20 + 30 + 20 minutes
Baking time:  25 minutes
 

 
Difficulty: Average
Chef's Note

A sweet bread in the form of a man, "männele" or "mannela" are made from a rich dough by Alsatian bakers. During the Advent season, it's the most popular bakery treat, along with a more sophisticated gingerbread version that takes the shape of St. Nicholas with his picture stuck on top, or at least his eyes, mouth and nose represented by currants or colored sugar.

Männele can be served for breakfast or a snack with café au lait or hot chocolate.

Ingredients
Ingredients for 900 g (2 lb.)

For the mannele
- 500 g (18 oz.) flour
- 5 g (1 tsp.) salt
- 90 -100 g (3 to 3 1/2 oz.) sugar
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) milk
- 30 g (1 oz.) fresh yeast
- 2 eggs
- 100 -150 g (3 1/2 to 5 oz.) butter

For glaze and finishing
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. milk
- Raisins

For the icing (optional)
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) icing sugar
Method
  1. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. 
  2. Warm 100 ml (6 tbsp.) milk in a saucepan; pour it into a bowl.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk; add 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) flour and mix well. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise 20 minutes.
  4. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the remaining milk, sugar and salt without boiling. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm.
  5. Knead the butter-milk mixture into the yeast starter.
  6. Incorporate the whole eggs and the rest of the flour. Knead well for 10-15 minutes. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let rise 30 minutes.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured board; form into small cylinders 3 cm in diameter and 15 cm long.
  8. Using scissors, make cuts to form the head, arms and legs so that the dough will have a gingerbread-man shape.
  9. Place the männele on buttered baking sheets; glaze with the beaten egg yolk (or egg yolk beaten with a little milk and sugar).
  10. Form the eyes and nose with raisins. Let rise 20 minutes more.
  11. Bake in a preheated 180°C / 350°F oven for about 25 minutes or until nicely browned. 

If you wish, you can brush them with some icing sugar dissolved in milk or water.

 
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