Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Parker House Rolls

Last week, I finally found a roll recipe that even I can handle.  I don't have the best track record with roll making.  If I don't use the bread machine, yeast breads just do not like me.  As a matter of fact, I made some truly horrible rolls for Thanksgiving this past year.  They were hard, flat, and burnt on the bottom.  It was supposed to be one of those "fool proof recipes" but I'm thinking it wasn't fool proof enough for this fool;-P

Well, this was WAS.  Oh my gosh, they were so perfectly delicious.  See this entire pan?  They were all gone by bedtime.  They were adored by all.  

Parker House Rolls

3 Tbsp. warm water
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c whole milk
2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4-1 1/2c. all-purpose flour

Stir together warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and yeast in a small bowl until yeast is disolved.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan.  Add milk and heat until lukewarm.  Pour into a large bowl, add yeast mixture, remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar, bread flour, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Stir in 3/4 cup all-poupose flour, then, if necessary, add up to 1/2 c. more flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time, to make a slightly sticky dough that forms a ball. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more all-pourpose flour if dough is very sticky, until smooth and elastic but still slightly sticky, about 10 minutes.  (I used the bread hook in my kitchen-aid stand mixer to knead the dough for me.) Form dough into a ball, put in a buttered large bowl, and turn to coat with butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. 

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

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

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter; cool slightly.  Brush tops of rolls with butter and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool, right side up, until warm.

Cook's Note:

*These rolls can be baked up to one day ahead.  Cool completely, then wrap well in foil and keep at room temperature.  Reheat in the foil in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Variations-Cloverleaf Rolls:

The cloverleaf shape is easy to form and gives these rolls a showy little fillip. 

After the dough has doubled in bulk, butter eighteen 1/3 to 1/2 c. muffin cups.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into thirds.  Work with one portion at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap.  Cut off Tbsp. sized pieces of dough, form into balls, and put 3 balls in each buttered muffin cup.

Let rise, loosely covered, in a warm draft-free place until almost doubled in bulk, 30-40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Brush the rolls lightly with egg wash (1 large egg lightly beaten with 2 tsp. water) and sprinkle with poppy and/or lightly toasted sesame seeds.  Bake until golden, 15-20 minutes.  Cool as directed above.

Source: The Gourmet Cookbook

These rolls were created in the 1870s at the Parker House Hotel in Boston.

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