Parker House Rolls

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads my blog regularly that I have a major sweet tooth.  I bake a lot of desserts and while I give most of them away to friends, family and Shane’s coworkers, I almost always save a little for us.  If I’ve made something that Shane loves, the dessert probably won’t make it out of the house (he exercises A LOT and calories aren’t really something he needs to worry about) and then I have to work extra hard not to over-indulge.  My sweet tooth doesn’t stop at desserts though.  I love sweetness in savory dishes too; whether it’s a marinade for meat or just a dish of roasted veggies, I’m going to find a way to add a touch of sweetness. 

Parker House Rolls

I was thrilled of course when I made these Parker House rolls I’d seen on Joy the Baker’s site and discovered upon taking my first bite that they were sweet and wonderfully buttery.  I’d made them to accompany a big pot of chicken and rice soup we had for dinner last week and the combination was perfect!  The rolls are made entirely by hand, which is my favorite way to make bread – it’s just so gratifying!  My rolls turned out a bit more flat than I’d like and I’m not completely sure why, but since they were still so tasty, it didn’t really bother me.  I made 1/2 of the recipe and baked them in a 9-inch square pan but were I to make a 1/2 batch again, I’d use a smaller pan so the rolls were more closely packed.

Project 365, 2-25-10

Parker House rolls originated at the Parker House Hotel in Boston and despite having previously lived and worked in Boston, I’ve never been there.  We still live only about an hour outside of Boston so I’m adding a trip to this hotel to my to-do list.  I stopped by their site and noticed that they provide a recipe for Parker House rolls, which differs a bit from this one so I’m eager to try that one out next!  You can find the recipe here.

Parker House Rolls
from The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl, John Willoughby, and Zanne Early Stewart (as seen on Joy the Baker)

3 tablespoons warm water (105 – 115 F)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 – 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Stir together warm water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and yeast in a small bowl until yeast in dissolved.  Let stand until foamy, about five minutes.  Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan.  Add the milk and heat until lukewarm.  Pour into a large bowl and add yeast mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, bread flour, and salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Stir in 3/4 cup all-purpose flour then dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead and bring the dough together.  Knead the dough until it is smooth, satiny and elastic, about 10 minutes.  If your dough is too sticky to handle, add up to 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is just slightly tacky.  I ended up adding a little more than 1/4 cup of flour to mine.  Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat entirely.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  You’ll know it’s doubled in size if you press two fingers into the dough and they leave a dent which does not spring back.

Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.  Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces.  Roll each one into a ball and arrange evenly in 4 rows of 5 in a baking pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Using a floured chopstick or the edge of a ruler, make a deep crease down the center of each row of rolls.  Let rolls rise, loosely covered for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and cool slightly.  Brush the tops of the rolls with the butter and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool rolls in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 20 rolls