Coffee N° 5

Food, comfort, warmth and friendship

Parker House Rolls

The other day, I made a delicious tray of rolls to go with my late Christmas/New Year dinner (which was fantastic). I’ve made these rolls in the past and they have always been a hit. There are many variations of this recipe out there, but I’m biased and liked this one. Plus I found it in my Food Network Magazine. These rolls were created in Boston’s Parker House Hotel in the late 1800s. Yeah. They’ve been here for a while. This is the same hotel that invented the Boston Cream Pie. I pulled the following from KingArthurFlour.com:

These feather-light, buttery rolls were a 19th-century staple of the Parker House, a famous Boston hotel — the same hotel that in 1855 created the first Boston Cream Pie, serving both rolls and pie to the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

So what makes a Parker House roll special? Butter. A buttery fold during the shaping process (and butter brushed on after they’re baked) give them over-the-top flavor. An egg, milk, and a fair amount of butter in the dough give them fine and tender texture. All in all, this Boston-based roll is a bread-basket classic.

A note on these rolls. They are heavy and dense. I mean look at how much flour is used. These aren’t your light and fluffy Pillsbury dinner rolls. As I mentioned before, this comes from Food Network and can be found here. I’ve made notes which are denoted in blue.

Ingredients:

1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
7 1/2 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for brushing
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

Directions:

Bloom the yeast.
Measure out 1/2 cup warm water and check the temperature: It should be between 110 degrees F and 120 degrees F (comfortable bathwater temperature).
Sprinkle the yeast into a large bowl, add the warm water and whisk in the sugar.
Let sit 1 minute (it should bubble and froth slightly), then gently stir in 1 cup flour.
Set aside near the stove while you prepare the dough.

Make the dough.
Mix the melted butter and milk in a mixer with the hook attachment on low-speed. I don’t have a stand mixer, but a hand mixer with the hooks works too.
Add the eggs and mix until blended.
Scrape in the yeast mixture and mix until incorporated.
Add 6 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt; mix until the dough forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is too wet and sticky.

Let it rise.
Brush a large bowl with softened butter. I recommend an actual basting brush for the butter. I used a silicon brush and it took twice as long.
Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes.
The dough should double in volume.

Shape the dough.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use the biggest baking sheet you have. I was only able to make 2 rows with the baking sheet that I used. If you don’t have parchment paper, a Silpat works great too.
Dust a clean flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it.
Flour your hands; gently press the dough into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (don’t use a rolling-pin).

Cut the dough.
With the short side in front of you, cut the dough in half lengthwise with a floured knife.
Then slice crosswise into 12 strips.

Shape the dough.
One at a time, fold each strip of dough unevenly in half so the top part slightly overlaps the bottom half, then tuck the overhang underneath.
Place the rolls seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet in 3 tightly packed rows.
(If making in advance, wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 weeks.)

Bake the rolls.
Bake until the rolls are bursting at the seams and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
(If frozen, bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees F, then 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.)
Remove from the oven and brush with softened butter.
Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. The salt really brings out the flavors. It will still be delicious with out the added salt, but not as delicious.

Keep in mind that this is a fairly long (time wise) recipe. If the air is too cool, your dough will take longer to rise, at the same time, don’t turn on your oven and leave the dough on top. It will literally bake the bread in the bowl. At least it does with my oven. If the dough isn’t rising properly, and the air temp is good, check your yeast. You don’t want to use yeast that’s expired. If you’re like me and buy yeast by the jar, keep it in the fridge. It won’t kill it, and helps preserve it.

If anyone does make this, please let me know how it turned out. Take pictures! Share it! This bread is too good not to share with the world!

– Brent

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