Recipes 5 and 6: Soft Roll Dough and Parker House Rolls

Well, it’s been a while since my last post. Life and a bit of laziness got in the way. But, I’m back to tell you all about the latest recipes from The Book I have completed – soft roll dough (Recipe 4) and Parker House rolls (Recipe 5). I decided they were best blogged about at the same time since the soft roll dough is the basis of the Parker House rolls. Soft dough roll is, from what I can ascertain, the basis of dinner rolls. It’s the first recipe that contains more than the basic water, flour, salt, and yeast. It also contains butter, milk, and egg. It’s springy, light, and delicious though I didn’t really know that until I made them. With soft roll dough I could guess – Parker House rolls I had know idea except they use the soft dough roll in the recipe. The only difference between the two? The soft dough roll recipe had an eggwash; the Parker House rolls were coated in clarified butter. I’d never made clarified butter either, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

First up, the soft dough recipe. To the stand mixer you add melted butter, egg, and milk, sugar, and salt, and then you add in the flour and instant yeast and let the mixer do it’s thing. The dough goes through the first rise (bulk fermentation) until it doubles roughly. Then there’s a preshaping stage where you mold the dough into a couple of rounds. They rest for about 20 minutes (essentially rise a little more) before you roll the next shape – small rounds which will rest again. See the video for how I did that. It may not be the right way, but it was the way I did it after reading the instructions and watching several videos online.

Finally, they are shaped into knots and do their final rise (proof) for about an hour. Sounds easy enough, right? I’d say the final shaping into knots was the hardest part. If I had to knead the dough by hand, then probably I’d say that but the mixer does all the work. Hard to explain on the shaping. Here are some shots of that process.

First attempt at knots

For these, you do an egg wash on the tops of the knots after shaping and then after proofing to ensure they are nice and glossy after baking.

I took the rolls to the ballet class again and they were a huge hit. I’m starting to think those moms and dads are getting tired of me and my baked goods, like a love/hate thing. Time will tell. I don’t think Tommy the food critic was there for these. Soft. Buttery. Crisp. Light. Pretty awesome rolls that I would make again.

Now on to Parker House rolls. Honestly, I had no idea what these things were so I had to google. (Doesn’t take much to make me stop what I’m doing and jump on Google. I’m addicted. Remember encyclopedias? Dewey Decimal? These phones are the devil.) Anyway, Parker house rolls are soft, buttery dinner rolls with a crispy outside. Well, that’s how I interpreted the things after researching them for days. And I mean days. They originate from New England (Boston) in the 1870s. Apparently there was a hotel called the Parker House where it’s said that a chef/baker got into it with a hotel guest and upon returning to the kitchen was pissed and just threw rolls together and baked them hurriedly before he was quite done. They were a hit. (Don’t you just love happy accidents?)

Same recipe with a couple of changes in the preparation. 1. Shaping is different and includes rolling pin. 2. Clarified butter instead of egg wash. Did you know clarified butter is also known as ghee? I had no idea how to make it. Always seemed daunting but it’s really not. You boil butter on low (ok the word is simmer but you know what I mean) for about 45 minutes and let the milk solids float to the top. When times up, you then strain the boiled mixture through multiple cheesecloth layers. Believe it or not I had cheesecloth (beer maker husband) and butter. Easy peasy. I brushed the rolls with clarified butter before final rise and then again after baking for a delicious extra buttery taste. I don’t think they’re as pretty as they should be, but having never seen or made them from scratch, I’m ok with how they turned out. More than ok. Parker House rolls before baking

Parker House rolls after baking

My stepmom is here for a visit and hung out with me while I made them. She seemed to like them. Oh yeah. She took a video, too. Here I am.

Alas, Tommy, my harshest food critic, was there for these. He did not like them. Honestly if I had to guess he didn’t like the butter flavor. Crazy, right? But hey, you’re talking to someone with a kid who doesn’t like cake or ice cream. I understand crazy. But yeah. Who doesn’t like butter? Tommy, that’s who. Meanwhile his dad ate both rolls. He didn’t seem to mind. The young, teen assistant dancer/teacher ate several. The others enjoyed them. I also enjoyed them for days after. Stale but if you cut and toast them? Omg. I’d say it wasn’t a total hit. Must do better for Tommy. I’ll try next time. White bread. For real. Sliced, white bread loaves. I’m a little freaked. Ever hear of a Pullman loaf pan? I’ll make sure to bring the toaster (not really).

Published by Dina M

Mom. Wife. Friend. Daughter. Music Lover. Learner - especially of all things baking and pastry. It's not failure, it's just an attempt to do better the next time. "Do or do not. There is no try. " - Yoda

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