Guildford Manchets, Surrey
In medieval times the eating of white bread was for the rich only, the lengthy bolting and re-bolting of flour to remove the coarser elements of the grain being expensive. It is notable that Elizabeth David, recreating a recipe for Manchet in the 1970s, used a significant proportion of wholemeal flour - half and half with white flour - reflecting the fact that white bread in past times would have still been relatively coarse.
The finest white bread was known as Manchet. Why the term endured, and endures, in Guildford , is not clear - one may speculate that in what has long been a relatively wealthy county pride would have been taken in enjoying the finer things in life.
Guildford Manchets are small bread rolls, traditionally made with a deep cut or fold in the centre so they could be pulled apart when eaten rather than cut, another throwback to earlier times.
The dough for Manchets contains a far larger percentage of fat - actually butter, though some recipes use a small quantity of lard too - than is normal in bread making, and the liquid used in forming the dough contains milk, generally 50/50 with water. Guildford Manchets take skill to make, being worked like puff pastry, with the fat between layers of the folded dough. Before baking the buns are brushed with egg or milk to give them a shine when they come out of their hot oven.
The resulting product should be soft but not overly so, and the top should have a definite but thin crust.
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