The Guildford Manchet

Guildford Manchet

I think that it’s fair to say that I’ve baked more breads from other countries than my own. Crispy French baguettes, airy Italian ciabattas and spicy Indian flat breads have all formed part of my baking repertoire. Even Algerian breads have graced these pages. But traditional British breads have been few and far between.

Somehow this doesn’t feel quite right so I’ve started to look at some of the British breads that have fallen from favour, starting with the Guildford Manchet. First, the history bit.

The manchet dates back to Tudor times and was a white bread made from the finest wheat and hence eaten by the wealthy. It’s size was described as being not enough for one person so was a roll rather than a loaf. Elizabeth David describes it as “the common ancestor… of most of our breakfast breads, baps, tea cakes, muffins [and] soft rolls.” In Surrey the Manchet took on a slightly different form and this is the version below.

The Guildford Manchets are constructed in a similar way to puff pastry or a croissant. Like its continental cousin it’s supposed to be torn apart rather than neatly cut with knife and is best served warm with butter. Recipes vary with some being all butter, but this one is a combination of butter and lard. You can find the original version here but these breads don’t keep well (though you can freeze them) and so I’ve come up with my own slimmed down version.

Guildford Manchet - rubbed in flour

First rub in 15g of unsalted butter into 250g of strong white flour as if making shortcrust pastry. Add 1/2 tsp of easy blend yeast, 1/2 tsp of caster sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

Then add 85g of milk and 80g of water. Mix and then knead til soft. Leave for about an hour until doubled in size.

Guildford Manchet - blended fats

Meanwhile mash together with a fork a further 45g of butter with 15g lard. Leave in the fridge until the dough is ready.

Guildford Manchet - post rise

When the dough has risen, pop it onto a floured work surface and slash a deep cross into it. Ease each of the quarters out to form a cross.

Guildford Manchet - post fat
Put the butter and lard mix into the middle of the square to form a thick layer.

Guildford Manchet - folding

Fold each of the lobes over the butter and lard so that it is completely covered in dough. Then roll it out into a rectangle about 30cm long.

Guildforr Manchet - fold

Fold the bottom third up over the middle third and then fold the top third down. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat 3 times. If the fat starts to seep through the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for about 15 min. Use more flour if it starts to stick to the work surface. 

Gulidford Manchets - shaping

When you’ve done your final rotation, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Pull the edges of each piece into the middle to form a small bun. Make sure to seal it on the bottom. You want the keep the distinct layers so make sure you don’t just roll it up. If you want to freeze some you can open freeze them at this stage and defrost and prove before baking.

If not leave to prove for 20 mins on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the manchets with milk and bake for about 25min until golden and crispy.

Guildford Manchet - internal

Eat whilst still warm with butter or possibly apricot jam.

They won’t keep for more than a day so if you find you have any left they can still be frozen once baked.  Just defrost, coat again with milk and bake for 15 min at 150C to refresh them and bring them back to their crispy best. These little rolls have quickly become one of my favourite breads to bake and eat so do give them a try. Let’s get the Guildford Manchet back on British breakfast tables!


Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread - cut

Asda has a special place in my heart. When I was a child we still had butchers, grocers and bakers within walking distance so most shopping was done daily. But for the big stuff like washing up liquid, cereal, frozen food etc we had “the monthly shop” which involved a family outing to the nearest big supermarket which was Asda.

Food shopping has changed significantly since then and so has Asda. Today the branch of Asda nearest to where I work sells plantains and okra as well as potatoes and milk. This visit I came away with samphire and smoked garlic. The samphire came with cooking instructions telling you not to add salt, which on tasting it I can see why. I like salty food and this certainly didn’t need any extra! Poor LSH is not a fan of salt and I doubt it will find its way back into my shopping basket any time soon.

Garlic Bread - smoked garlic

The smoked garlic was more successful. For starters it smelt delicious – very rich and smoky! Just the thing to pop into a chicken for roasting. But I thought that it might be good to try it in bread and so I gave Paul Hollywood’s recipe for garlic bread in How to Bake a go.

Garlic Bread - roasted garlic

The recipe is pretty straight forward as it’s essentially a basic white dough with roasted garlic cloves. I made a half the quantity as I only wanted the one, so I used just one bulb of garlic. The bulb is split into cloves and all the skin is removed before it’s roasted in olive oil until soft and golden.
When the dough has completed its first rise the recipe tells you to knead the cloves into the dough and then to shape it before proving. Once proved you are then supposed to coat with olive oil and oregano before baking. Trying to get the cloves evenly distributed through the dough was a challenge and I didn’t have oregano so I used finely chopped fresh rosemary and the olive oil that the garlic had been roasted in to increase the overall “garlicness”

Garlic Bread - baked If you have the book you will see couple of key differences between my version and the one illustrated there – the location of the garlic and the shape of the loaf. In the book they are all at the top of the bread and sit level with the crust. In mine they are towards the bottom of the loaf. The bread itself is much flatter, more ciabatta like in shape, whereas mine was more domed and loaflike in shape, which was largely a result of trying to get the cloves spread through the dough. With the cloves incorporated I found it difficult to flatten it out. I suspect that the book version was shaped first and then the cloves pushed in before baking and this is what I would do in future.

The final bread had a lovely crisp rosemary scented crust with garlic cloves dotted through the crumb. Alas there was not much sign of the smokiness that I loved in the unroasted bulb though – I suspect that this lies in the skin that was removed at the outset. Despite this though it was tasty. So tasty that LSH managed the beat his own record for bread eating as within 15 min all that was left of it was this!

Garlic Bread - the end

Butternut Squash Minis

Butternut squash pasties - finished 2

It’s still hot. The news is dealing with this in its usual positive way which is that widescale death and devastation are going to result. Whilst that’s possibly true of our back lawn, I suspect that most of us are going to muddle along quite nicely until it breaks and we go back to complaining about the rain and cold again.

LSH and I headed for the Lake District for a couple of days walking. We had planned on heading up some fells but as the temperature was over 25C when we got there at 10am , we decided to stick with a low level walk broken up nicely with a couple of pub stops. This included one owned by the National Trust (The Sticklebarn) so I’m chosing to see my half of cider more as a charitable donation than a drink. We still managed to do just over 8 miles which we felt was an achievement given how hot and muggy it was. Too hot to walk in the Lakes! Has to be something of a first there.

Back home the bread is rising quickly, possibly too quickly. What would normally take about an hour on my kitchen table is taking half that. So instead of bread I’m making a quick pastry instead. I’ve had my eye on Dan Lepard’s Sweet Potato Crescents in his Short and Sweet book for a while. I’m missing a few things – sweet potatoes, a red pepper, spring onions and ground cumin – but otherwise I think I have everything I need. Sharp eyed owners of this book will quickly realise that what I’m missing are pretty much all the ingredients needed for the filling but I have a plan. Instead I’m going to use butternut squash, the emergency bottled pepper lurking in the fridge and a red onion along with freshly grinding some cumin seeds.

Butternut squash pasties - pastryThe pastry isn’t too difficult and turns out a lovely vibrant yellow from the turmeric. Clearly my seed pounding technique needs a bit more work as it also has little flecks of cumin running through it, but the overall effect looks good.

Whilst Dan doesn’t say to do this, I end up wrapping it in clingfilm and popping it in the fridge whilst I do the filling as it is already really sticky to work with and I fear that another 30mins will make it unrollable.

Butternut squash pasties - filling

For the filling I steam 300g of chopped butternut squash until tender. Then I fry half a finely chopped red onion in 1 tbsp of sunflower oil.

After about a couple of minutes, I add 2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced) and a finely chopped red chilli. Then I added the squash with the ground coriander and let it cook down for a few minutes. I mashed the squash with a fork and added the chopped red pepper. I gave it another minute or so before 2 tablespoons of frozen coriander leaves were stirred through it and the whole thing left to cool.

I then assembled as per the recipe and baked (we don’t have a deep fat fryer and I’m a bit squeamish about deep frying without one). The baked versions didn’t have the crispness you’d get with the fried ones but they came out OK with a nice golden sheen to them. I did feel that they lacked a bit of taste which may have been down to steaming the squash – I think that roasting it before adding to the onion etc would have given a better result and I’d probably add a bit more chilli and maybe some cumin to the filling as well. But as LSH was happily drowning them in sweet chilli sauce I don’t think he noticed. One to experiment with I think so let me know any suggestions you have. Enjoy the summer! Butternut squash pasties - finished


Baking in Even Hotter Weather

Picnic Pie - finished product

This is definitely not weather for baking – hot and sticky with little breeze to cool it all down. The cat is flopping around the house trying to get cool – even his usual technique of hiding under the current bushes in the shady fruit cage aren’t working today. Thankfully I baked this last night.

I don’t usually get Olive magazine but a long train journey meant I needed something to read and the sticky BBQ ribs on the cover looked appealing. And inside was their monthly challenge recipe – a picnic pie. Lots of porky goodness squashed round hard boiled eggs and contained in shortcrust pastry. I’d never tried making anything like this so gave it a go.
Picnic Pie - filling unmixed

The meat filling is a mix of pork sausages, pork mince and thick cut back bacon. The recipe suggested herbed sausages but I used just normal good quality ones instead. Given the range of flavoured sausages it might be interesting to use something like pork and apple next time and add a bit of diced apple to the mix.

The worst bit was trying to slice the tops off the eggs to get them to the right length and with plenty of yolk (which to me is the whole point of this pie – just a white centre isn’t anyway near as attractive!)

Picnic Pie - uncooked

Once the eggs and pork had been packed into the shortcrust pastry, I then added a puff pastry lid. I carefully scored and crimped the pastries together, finishing with an egg wash. It takes an hour to bake and you have to chill it overnight so it was an ideal Friday evening bake which would then be ready for lunch on Saturday.
 Picnic Pie - cooked

 I gave it an extra 10 mins on a slightly higher temperature as it looked a lot paler than the photo, but it still came out much more golden than the Olive version. It was left overnight in its tin and then the following morning I removed it – or rather attempted to! Despite having greaseproof paper underneath it, no amount of tugging was going to get this out of the tin.


So I had to use a knife to try and gentry prise it out and this was the result. Clearly you need to line the entire tin with greaseproof and not just the bottom and long sides.Picnic Pie - edge It was worth it though. It’s one of those bakes that looks more impressive than the amount of effort needed. It was certainly eaten quickly enough. I’d hoped it would see us through a couple of days of our holiday, it all got gobbled up on the Saturday. I’d definitely make this one again, but with more greaseproof paper!

If you want to try this yourself its in August’s Olive magazine. They tend to put all their recipes on the BBC Good Food site so I suspect that you’ll find it here in a couple of months time.

Picnic Pie - slice

Baking in Hot Weather

Summer fruit pavlova

At last the British summer has arrived! Hurrah! And for once it’s not going to be a “blink and you missed it” affair. We’ve got a whole week of decent temperatures and blue skies ahead of us (readers in Yorkshire ought to be aware that I’m off work next week so get your barbecues out of the way before then…)

Messing around in the kitchen when I could be out in the garden is not hugely appealing, even for a baking addict like me. However we need bread for our barbecue tonight as well as a pudding to use up some our newly ripe blackcurrants so I’m up early to get it done before it gets too warm. Both these recipes were really easy to do.

First it’s another of my stuffed breads so I’m sure you know the basics by now (if not try here and here.)

Pear and gorgonzola filling

I’ve gone back to Bertinet’s olive dough and this time I’ve gone for a pear and gorgonzola filling. Chop about 3 small pears into quite small pieces (be sure to cut them in thin pieces as you want to be able to roll the bread). Take some Gorgonzola picante and roughly chop into similar size chunks and finely chop some walnuts. Roll the dough into a rectangle after its first rise (you want it about the size of a Swiss roll tin). Then scatter liberally with the filling.

Pear and gorgonzola - bakedRoll like a Swiss roll and pop onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. I managed to get a bread that was too long for my tray so its more of a strudel shape (or as it looks in this photo, a travel pillow!). Leave to prove. Coat with olive oil and bake at around 210C until golden (about 30mins).

Apologies for the final shot. We were mid barbecue (and mid wine!) before I realised I hadn’t taken a photo of a slice so had to rescue these 2 from our guests who had happily polished off the rest.

Pear and Gorgonzola - slices

This pavlova recipe is based on this pistachio pavlova on the BBC Good Food site but I’d run out of caster sugar so the base was 175g caster sugar with 50g icing sugar to 4 medium egg whites. Once the sugar and eggs were combined I folded 55g of finely chopped pistachios through it before baking. I topped the meringue with extra thick double cream and a mixture of strawberries and home grown blackcurrants. A wonderful taste of summer!

summer flowers

A really easy snack – Serrano ham and cheese pastries

pastry rolls finalThere are times when you don’t have time to, or want to, spend ages baking so here’s a quick post with a quick recipe.

You’ll need:
a 500g pack of all butter puff pastry (you can even use ready rolled if you want to make it even easier)
125g mozzarella,
6 slices of Serrano ham and

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan oven).

pastry rectangles

Flour your worktop and roll out the pastry into a square about 5mm thick. Divide into 2 rectangles (if ready rolled just cut it in half).

pastry rolls - fillingCover the pastry with the ham, leaving a cm edge.

Chop the mozzarella cheese into small pieces. Put down the right hand edge of each pastry rectangle. Dot pesto over the cheese and ham.

Roll the pastry over the cheese so that the centre of the pastry will be a cheesy core. Keep rolling over the ham to form a long sausage shape. Brush water along the edge to seal the pastry. Cut each roll into 2-3cm pieces.

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.filled pastry roll

Put the pastry rolls cut side up onto the baking trays. Leave a decent space between them as they will spread.

Brush with milk.

Bake for 30min until the pastries are golden.


Serrano and cheese roll - close up