I’ve had it in mind to make a batch of Parker House rolls for some time, and a rainy long weekend (with temperatures dipping to 2 degrees) plus two boys out at a superhero movie provided exactly the right opportunity to turn on the oven, poke around the house while dough rose on the countertop, then bake and eat half a pan of sweet, buttery-warm rolls with butter and jam in the company of only myself – and Netflix.
It was so rainy on Sunday morning, it felt like dusk. On mornings when I don’t have to be anywhere, I love being able to turn out some dough that I know won’t be ready to eat for awhile – not until we’re good and hungry – just in time for second (or third) coffee.
I came across a recipe on Diner Journal that reminded me of my must-make list, and searched for others to compare – Bon Appetit‘s is identical, and King Arthur’s and others were similar. Dough enriched with lard -although butter will do- and an egg, brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt immediately upon exiting the oven. Folded, of course – which makes it a Parker House roll.
There are a lot of different ways to shape Parker House rolls – the originals, invented in the same 19th century Boston hotel that came up with the first cream pie, were made with dough cut into rounds, dipped in butter and folded in half – but they tend to pop open in the oven. Someone at some point came up with a new method in which the dough is rolled and cut into rectangles, brushed with butter and folded not quite in half, leaving an edge sticking out that helps arrange the pieces in a pan like shingles, partly overlapping each other.
Mine came out more upright, but I liked them that way – they were four-bite buns you could pull apart from the others, straight from the pan. They were still bigger than BA’s, but King Arthur has a slightly different technique that produces larger buns in what looks like a more streamlined way – however you do it, there’s no need to make them perfect. The goal is rolled out pieces you can brush with butter, fold and tuck into a pan.
The other thing about PH rolls, besides their baked-in fold that makes them perfect for stuffing with pulled pork or turning into little picnic sandwiches, is the butter – you have a ramekin of melted butter at the ready to brush the baking dish with, then the buns themselves as soon as they come out of the oven, so that they’re crunchy on the outside, soft and poufy on the inside.
I’ve already imagined these sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar after the butter (before the fold) – or garlic and cheese, or pesto. Right?