Thursday, November 15, 2012

Parker House Rolls Recipe

Parker House Rolls

Wanted to thank you for following along during Pie Week last week. Children, ranch, laundry, and life have kept me from finishing up the last of my pie posts, but I’ll try to get them up sometime in the coming days.
Welcome to my world! Jump on in. The water’s warm.
In the meantime, I wanted to share this dinner roll recipe, since dinner rolls are necessary to life on Thanksgiving day.

For the record: I don’t make beautiful, perfect bread. It’s just not a knack I have. I’m much better at impersonating old Broadway stars. But these rolls aren’t about looks. They’re about flavor—buttery, sinful, Thanksgiving table flavor. Parker House Rolls are a simple/scrumptious dinner roll with a score or split down the middle, which practically begs you to pull it apart and slap a pat of softened butter right inside. I’ve seen Parker House Rolls formed (and placed on the baking pan) in different ways. One way (which Joy the Baker demonstrates so very nicely) involves forming dough into balls, then making a deep crease or impression in the center.
The second way, which is the method my mom employed, involves cutting flat discs of dough, dipping the discs in butter, and folding them in half.
I have no idea which style reflects the original Parker House Roll from the historic Parker House Hotel in Boston. I’ve never even been to Boston.
And why is that? How can I be forty-one years old and never have visited such a major American city? I feel swindled.
I’ll work that out later. For now…we have rolls to make!

I’m using my basic dough recipe (the same one I use for my cinnamon rolls and no-knead dinner rolls) but instead of canola oil, this time I’m using butter. Please don’t be mad.

Combine butter and sugar in a pot, then pour in whole milk.

Turn on the burner and simmer the mixture until it’s hot but not boiling, then turn off the heat.

Let this cool until it’s warm but not hot. “Warm but not hot.” Man, I sure have a way with words, don’t I?

When it’s warm but not hot, sprinkle some active dry yeast over the surface…

Followed by eight cups of flour.

Stir this together, then cover the pot and put it in a warm, draft-free place for an hour.

If you play your cards right, this is what it’ll look like. Should be nice and light and bubbly.

Next, throw a cup of flour on top of the dough…

Then add a heaping teaspoon of baking powder…

A scant teaspoon of baking soda…

And a heaping tablespoon of salt.

Then break out your elbow grease and stir this together until it’s combined. It’s a little physically taxing, but you’ll make it!

Divide the dough in half. It’s easier to work with that way, and if you don’t need more than about 24 rolls, you can save the rest of the dough for later. (Or make some cinnamon rolls! You know you want to.)

Now, throw half of the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to ask a local alien if you can borrow his hand, as you can plainly see was my approach.

After kneading, form the dough in a large ball, cover it, and let it sit and rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

After that, it’ll be nice and smooth. Roll it out (gently; don’t stretch too much) to about a half-inch thick…

Melt some butter in a saucepan. Use a round cutter to cut circles of dough.

Dunk each dough circle in the melted butter…

Then fold the circle in half, gently pressing to encourage it to “seal.”

Now, here’s another place where you can take a couple of different approaches. My mom laid the rolls on their sides, like this. But you can also use a baking dish with higher sides and stand the rolls upright so the seam is facing up. If you do this, you’ll need to crowd the rolls a bit so that they’ll support one another. Either way works well!

These remind me of: a. Pac Man
b. Mussels
I see things in my food.
I see dead people.

Doesn’t it just seem like this should start talking? Wokka wokka wokka. Oh, sorry. missed a couple of steps. Covered rolls and let them rise for 30 minutes. Baked ‘em for 15 minutes. Amen. Note that if you lay them individually on a baking sheet, their shape can vary to well behaved (as seen above) to freakish and malformed. If you crowd them into a pan face up, you’ll wind up with a pan of more uniform dinner rolls. Up to you!

These little puppies just beg to be pulled open…

And buttered…

And eaten. And by the way, in case you were wondering: just before this photo was taken, the alien’s cousin Rosalinda showed up, stole my wedding ring, and stuck her hand right in my shot!
Freaky pink alien hands. It’s the lighting, I swear. No really, I…
Oh, never mind.
Enjoy these rolls, my friends! You can make the dough the night before Thanksgiving. Just store it covered in the fridge (be prepared to punch it down if it rises too much) and know that you’ll need to allow more time for the rolls to rise (because the dough will be a little cold.) Or you could try flash freezing the rolls right after you form them and put them on the pan (unrisen); then you’d just thaw them out, allow them to rise, and bake. Lots of options!
Here’s the handy dandy printable:

Recipe: Parker House Rolls

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  • 4 cups Whole Milk
  • 2 sticks 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 8 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • 1 cup (additional) All-purpose Flour
  • 2 sticks Melted Butter (additional)

Preparation Instructions

Combine 4 cups milk, 2 sticks butter, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a simmer, and when the mixture is hot (but not boiling) turn off heat and allow to cool to warmer than lukewarm, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Sprinkle in the yeast and 8 cups of flour. Stir to combine, then cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 additional cup of flour. Stir to combine. Divide dough in half, then turn out onto floured surface. Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes, then form into a ball and cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place. for 30 to 45 minutes. (Repeat with other half of dough, or store it for a later use.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan.
Roll out dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut circles with a 2 1/2 inch cutter. Dunk each circle in melted butter, then immediately fold in half and place on a cookie sheet, flat side down. Press lightly to encourage sealing. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover with a towel and allow rolls to rise 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately!


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