Mannala (or Männele)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Mannala, a variety of small brioche shaped like little men is a traditional recipe available in Alsace for Saint Nicolas holiday.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Alsatian, French, Vegetarian
Servings: 16 brioches
Author: Vera Abitbol
  • 6-½ cups flour
  • 8 tablespoons butter , cold
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4-½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-¾ cup milk , warm
  • 2 eggs
  • Chocolate chips
To brush on mannalas
  • 1 egg yolk diluted in a little milk
  1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast with ½ cup of milk and sugar.
  2. Add egg and beat well.
  3. Add the remaining milk and mix. Set aside for 2 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of the food processor, combine flour and baking soda.
  5. Stir in the diced butter with your fingertips.
  6. Make a well in the flour and add the milk, sugar and egg mixture.
  7. Knead on low speed until reaching a dough that does not stick.
  8. Moderately increase the speed, add the salt and knead for 8 minutes.
  9. The dough should not stick to the edges of the container. Add a few tablespoons of flour if necessary.
  10. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 1h30.
  11. Place the dough on a floured surface and work a few minutes.
  12. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  13. Divide the dough in pieces of about 3 oz.
  14. Cut a quarter of each piece of dough into a ball to form the head.
  15. Then shape the rest of each piece of dough into a cylinder and place on the baking sheet. Lightly flatten.
    shaping mannala
  16. Using a sharp knife, cut the legs and arms of the mannala.
  17. Place the head of the mannala above its shoulders and place 2 chocolate chips for the eyes and one for the mouth.
  18. Place no more than 8 mannalas per baking sheet.
  19. Cover the mannalas with a slightly damp cloth and let raise in a warm place, free from drafts, again for 30 minutes.
  20. Preheat convection oven to 430 F.
  21. Brush mannalas with the egg yolk and milk mixture.
  22. Place in the oven and reduce oven temperature to 390 F.
  23. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  24. The mannalas should be golden brown.