It’s hard to put a finger on the almost elemental connection we have with bread. Yes, you can trace the connection easily enough through social, cultural, and anthropological paths, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to define or describe the allure of bread just out of the oven. I’m literally salivating at the thought while I type this. Kinda gross, very interesting.
So I’ve been craving some fresh baked bread and thought this would be the perfect time to make Parker House rolls. These have all the hallmarks of a solid recipe: an easy to trace origin story (I always like that), really simple and relatively quick to make, and thanks to our good friend butter, f*cking DELICIOUS. If you happen to be craving hot, fresh, buttery bread – this is your recipe.
Parker House rolls were first created in Boston at the, you guessed it, Parker House Hotel (the same spot that – allegedly – gave us Boston Cream Pie). Exactly how the rolls came to creation is a little more fuzzy. Most accounts arrive at the conclusion that a disgruntled pastry cook baked off unfinished rolls (how they were unfinished I have no idea) and the signature appearance was created as a result. That appearance was traditionally an oval shape slightly folded over or dented in the center, which gave the baked rolls an appearance not too dissimilar to an apple turnover. These days a rectangular shape is slightly more common, I suspect because it’s just a more economical shape for a commercial kitchen (round shapes = scraps).
Parker House rolls are really simple, although the shaping method of the dough can be a little tricky to convey through words alone. Definitely look at the photos I’ve included for guidance.
You’ll have to proof this dough twice, and while I could go into more detail about proofing here, I suggest you hop over to my recipe for beer bread if you want more info on that process. Any proofing done in this recipe is at room temperature, so no proof box is needed.
parker house rolls
361g all-purpose flour
12g active dry yeast
50g instant mashed potatoes
45g butter unsalted
230g whole milk
50g whole egg about one egg
AN melted butter approx. 70g
Bring the whole egg and whole milk to room temperature before getting started.
Combine the whole milk, sugar, and active dry yeast, whisking well until the yeast has dissolved.
Combine all of the ingredients (except the extra melted butter) in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until it is just combined.
Mix the dough with a dough hook for about 7min. or until smooth. This process can be done by hand as well, although it will take a bit longer.
Place the dough in a lightly greased mixing bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to proof for 90min.
Divide the dough in half.
*These photos show how a single half of dough is rolled and cut. Keep in mind that you’ll repeat this process with the other half of dough.
Roll each half of dough into an 8×12”/20×30.5cm rectangle.
Cut the dough in half down its length, creating two 4×12”/10×30.5cm strips, then brush an even layer of melted butter over the face up surface.
Fold the strip of dough over down its length, leaving about ½”/1.25cm of dough exposed along the edge.
Cut each folded length of dough into 3”/7.5cm sections.
Shingle the portioned pieces of dough in a lightly greased baking pan (you can use a 9×13″/23x33cm baking pan, though in this case I used a quarter sheet pan), with the smooth side of the dough facing up (the exposed edge of the dough will face down). The longer seem of the dough should be parallel with the longer edge of the baking pan. This is why I include so many photos in my posts…
Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a tea towel and proof for 40min-1hr. They will rise gently, but not double in volume.
Bake at 350F/176C for 20-25min.
Brush the rolls with melted butter just as they come out of the oven.
Try not to eat the entire tray of these immediately.
Cheers – Chef Scott