Guildford Manchets - A British Historical "Receipt" (Recipe) (2024)

Guildford Manchets - A British Historical "Receipt" (Recipe) (1)

A few weeks ago my heart was in southwest England, and I made Devon Flats. This week it moved over to the southeast, Surrey to be precise, and I made Guildford Manchets (pronounced man-chits).

Guildford Manchets are pastry-like bread rolls that date from Medieval times in Guildford, Surrey. They are flaky, buttery rolls that make a perfect continental breakfast or fit in at the finest dinner party.

It makes me so happy to find an old ‘receipt’ (recipe) with directions like “Make the bread dough in the usual way” and imprecise (or sometimes no) measurements and turn it into something my dear readers can easily do.

Guildford Manchets - A British Historical "Receipt" (Recipe) (2)

I found this one at Foods of England and couldn’t resist. I didn’t have any lard on hand and didn’t want to buy a pound of organic lard for the 1 ounce called for, so I used organic unsalted butter, which also makes the recipe vegetarian.

And, of course, bakers didn’t have instant yeast back in the Middle Ages. But I didn’t want to trouble any of my craft beer brewing friends for a bit of barm from the top of their vats, so I “made do” with store-bought yeast.

I love historical cooking, but only when it’s good! These are some seriously good rolls, and I hope you’ll try my updated version soon.

Guildford Manchets - A British Historical "Receipt" (Recipe) (3)

Guildford Manchets

(Makes 16)

1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter, divided
3 dip-and-sweep cups (15 ounces/425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons (8 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) salt

1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces/296 ml) milk and water, about the same amount of each, room temperature

Egg Wash: 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon water, pinch of salt*

* The egg wash “goes far” so there is lots left over; I just stuck it in the microwave for under a minute and had a scrambled egg snack so as not to waste that good organic egg--I hate food waste!

1 Take the butter out of the refrigerator. In a tiny bowl, melt 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of the butter; let cool slightly. Put the remaining butter in a small bowl and let stand at room temperature until needed. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour the melted butter, milk and water into it, stirring to form dough. It might look like you need more liquid, but knead lightly with one hand, right in the bowl, to bring the dough together.

2 Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. Use only as much flour as you need to keep dough from sticking to the counter (I measure out 1/8 cup in advance to work from so that I'm sure to not add too much) . The dough will feel sticky, but it won't actually stick. Place flattened ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure so I can quickly see when it has doubled) and cover loosely with lightly oiled lid or plastic wrap (no need to oil lid or plastic wrap if container is large enough that the doubled dough won't reach it). Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Note: Rising time will vary with the temperature. We keep a rather cool house, which makes for a slower rise.

Guildford Manchets - A British Historical "Receipt" (Recipe) (4)

3 Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cream the room temperature butter. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface. Press and roll it out to a 16x8-inch/40x20 cm rectangle about 1/2 inch/1 cm thick.

4 With short edge facing you, spread the butter over two-thirds of the rectangle. Fold the unbuttered third over the middle third, and then fold the remaining third over that. Pinch the edges to seal. Roll the dough again to the same size rectangle and fold. Repeat two more times.

5 Roll out the dough a final time into an 11-inch square. Cut the square of dough into 16 equal pieces. To shape the buns, take a square of dough and turn its corners under into the center, pressing down to seal, and form a round, flat bun. Place buns on a greased or parchment-lined 18x13x1-inch half sheet pan. Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

6 Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas6. When buns have risen and are ready to go into the oven, whisk together the egg wash and brush it on the tops of the rolls. Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Note: They keep well stored tightly covered at room temperature for a few days. Reheat loosely wrapped in foil for about 8 or 10 minutes in preheated 350F/180C/Gas4 oven.

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Guildford Manchets - A British Historical "Receipt" (Recipe) (2024)


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