[Sca-cooks] Final thoughts from my Laurel's Prize Tourney entry

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Sep 11 10:00:31 PDT 2007

On Sep 11, 2007, at 11:50 AM, Michael Gunter wrote:

> The manchet loaf came out well with a nice thick and chewy
> crumb. I did a major headslap moment just as I put the loaf into
> the oven. I gave it a quick brush with milk to brown the top. And
> then I realized I was making a manchet loaf and it should be as
> white as possible. I, without thinking, fell into a modern mindset
> to serve a browned loaf. Oops. But the interior was white as snow
> and tasted very nice. Especially when sprinkled with a small pinch
> of salt.
> Two problems with the loaf were that it had risen oddly in the oven
> and there was a split on the side and an air bubble had developed in
> the top. One of the Laurels talking with me said she had watched
> the cooks at Hampton Court make manchets as short cylinders and then
> the top was dimpled with the thumbs. So, it appears I DID make the
> loaf right because a "fix" had to be created. Now I know how to avoid
> that problem next time.

I think browning the loaf, per se, would not be a problem, as long as  
you don't have a really thick, crisp, hard crust, but you probably do  
want a reasonably hot oven so they're light inside with plenty of  
oven spring.

I STR Gervase Markham discussing manchets and saying they should be  
slashed with a sharp blade around the waist, or circumference, of the  
loaf, before baking, and this makes them expand like a cylindrical  
bellows into a sort of hatbox shape, with a nearly flat top and  
nearly straight, vertical sides. At least this is what happened the  
couple of times I followed those instructions. It also occurs to me  
that, if one wanted to trim the crust off them in this shape, it  
would be pretty easy, with relatively little waste. And then, of  
course, Markham is not medieval, and there's no telling, without  
reading other sources which may differ, whether what he says applies  
to earlier period manchets.

Amazing, BTW, how much Dunkin' Donuts French Rolls look like manchets.


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