Would you also like to celebrate Saint Nicholas? It’s impossible to properly do so without a recipe for mannele/mannala/manala (yes, you can write it several different ways!)! For those of you that don’t know, Saint Nicholas is a gourmet day for those living in the East of France, to patiently wait for Christmas.

On the 6th of December, on the day of Saint Nicholas, it is customary to prepare mannala, the brioche men that can be savoured for breakfast or for an afternoon snack, and that are given to children who have been good. In actual fact, every opportunity is a good excuse in Alsace to eat mannala: we bring some to our colleagues, to our friends, we eat some as an afternoon snack… and it’s like this during almost the whole holiday season! 😉

As I am in Bas-Rhin, I call them mannele (you have to pronouce it männele =méneuleu), but in Haut-Rhin, you would say manala (mannala). In Franche-Comté, they say “Jean Bonhomme”. But the main thing is that they are good, right?

Ingredients for six Mannala

  • 500g flour
  • 15cl lukewarm milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 sachet of express baker’s yeast
  • 150g softened butter
  • 80g fine sugar
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg yolk + a little bit of milk for browning
  • Optional: a cookie-cutter in the shape of a little man

In a bowl, mix the flour, the sugar, the vanilla sugar, the eggs, the softened butter, the baker’s yeast and the lukewarm milk. Knead until you obtain an elastic-like dough. Kneading should be done for abut 10-15 minutes.

Cover up the bowl with a cloth, and let it rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume.

Prepares balls of dough of about 80g, shape them into sausages on non-stick trays and make notches with scissors to shape the arms and legs (or use your cookie-cutter if you prefer).

Tips and tricks : spread the little men properly, as if they are too close to one another, they might stick together.

Let them rise again, until they double in volume in a lukewarm place.

Preheat the oven at a medium temperature (thermostat 6/180°C), brown them with the mix egg yolk and milk and put them in the oven for about 20 to 25 min (keep a close eye on them).

Pictures of the recipe for mannele/mannala/manala