Lady Arundel's original recipe, 1676: "Take a bushel of fine wheat flour, twenty eggs, and three pounds of butter..."
An updated, down-scaled, version from 1932* is the one I used.
2 lb fine wheat flour
1/2 oz salt
2 oz butter
1 pint of warm milk
1 oz compressed yeast (I used one sachet of fast action yeast)
1 tsp castor sugar
Make the dough in the usual way, "...then let it lie the space of half an hour to rise so you may work it up into bread, and bake it and let not your oven be too hot."
It is really just an enriched dough and, although it is not stated, it should be kneaded for ten minutes before being shaped into small flat round cakes about 3/4 inch thick and 3 1/2 inches across.
Mark them with lines to form diamonds 1 inch in length.
Put them to rise for 30 minutes and bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for about 25 minutes.
The manchets turned out to be very nice indeed, not as wonderful as a good crusty roll, but perfectly acceptable as a lunch-time bread to have with soup...nettle soup, more of that another day.
The following day they were still fresh and good to eat which was just as well because our grandchildren wanted to have a picnic in Owl Wood.
Merry and Hector took it in turns to drive their little green car around Owl Wood, showing us how skillful they have become at reversing.
They faced some very stern critics - the hens!
*The updated recipe was found in 'Good things in England' by Florence White.
This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!
The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.
I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.