Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grandma Roberts' Parker House Rolls

These are my all-time favorite rolls. They are my Grandma's Parker House Rolls, and they are the only rolls worth the time and attention to make. (My No-Knead Rich Dinner Rolls work nicely in a pinch, though.) So, of course I'll be adding them to the menu for Thanksgiving tomorrow. My grandma recently passed away. While I'm saddened that she's no longer on this Earth, I am grateful that I can remember her and feel her here with me when I make her recipes.  I know she's looking down on me and I'm sure she would be happy that I am carrying on some of her traditions.
   Her original recipe calls for melted shortening as the fat in the dough, I have made this recipe with oil and melted butter as well and they all turn out wonderfully. She also wrote the recipe to include cake yeast, but since I never have that on hand I addapted it to use dry, instant yeast. These rolls are in no way a low-fat food, but one bite and you'll fall in love with them too. They are unbelievably soft and delightful. My grandma knew what she was doing when she made these!

This is how it starts:

Milk goes into a small sauce pan to heat up. (I have also done this step in the microwave.)

While the milk is heating, put the yeast into 1 cup of either lukewarm milk or water. (I tend to use milk. I think it makes for a softer roll.) Grandma's recipe says "lukewarm" but I would make sure that the temp of the liquid is at least 105F. You want to wake up the yeast. (She had the hands of a farmer's wife, so I'm sure her lukewarm is different than mine.) :)

Just mix the yeast and milk (or water) and set aside. I am using instant, rapid rise yeast so there is no need for me to wait for the yeast to foam or "bloom" but if you are using cake yeast or regular dry yeast you will want to make sure that the yeast is completely dissolved and the mixture gets a little foamy before you continue.

When the milk is scalded (hot but not boiling) turn it off.

Add in the sugar,

and salt.

And stir to combine, until the sugar is dissolved. Set this aside to cool slightly (down to at least to 120F)

In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer. - This was before it died on me. . . sniff, sniff.) Add in your fat of choice: melted shortening, or vegetable oil, or melted butter. (Grandma's recipe says to add this in the middle, with the flour, but for convenience I add it at the beginning. I'm going to give you her recipe at the end, so you may notice the changes, but note that you can add the fat at the beginning or the middle and it turns out great either way.)

To the melted fat, add the yeast mixture. (Again, you'll notice that I didn't dissolve my yeast completely, because I am using rapid rise yeast and there is no need to do that.)

Add in some of the flour, and then turn the mixer on low. (Or mix in the flour and then add the next ingredients.)

While the mixer is on low, add the warm milk/sugar/salt mixture. (If mixing by hand, just stir it in slowly.)

When the mixture is smooth (like this) then you can start adding more flour.

Add it one cup at a time, so that the flour can get incorporated evenly. The recipe calls for 6 cups of flour, but I find that depending on the day I may need more or less.

When the dough comes together into a soft ball, and pulls away from the sides it's done. (If mixing by hand, you will want to knead it by hand for at least 5 minutes to get it to come together.)
The dough should be very soft, but not sticky.

Set it aside in a warm place to rise for about an hour (it needs to at least double in size). I just out the towel over the bowl of my stand mixer and left it where it was on the counter, because my kitchen was warm.

After an hour, check on the dough. It should be rising nicely.

Knead the dough again (I just turned on my stand mixer for a few minutes.)

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle. (Or as close to it as you can.) Then portion the dough out. I like to cut 1 inch strips and then cut the strips into squares. I fold the squares over on themselves to make little balls. (For more detailed pictures on forming the dough balls see my No-Knead Rich Dinner Rolls post). This recipe will make 24 normal sized rolls, or 12 gigantic rolls (like I made this time).

When all the dough balls are portioned out, place them in a buttered baking dish (I use a 9x13 when making 12 rolls and a 10x15 dish - or 9x13 plus an 8x8 - when I make 24 rolls) and brush them with melted butter. (Grandma's recipe says to "Use melted butter generously". I find that I use 1/2 stick, melted butter to accomplish this and brush the dough balls all liberally.) My mom says that she has seen Grandma take the back of a knife and use it to fold the rolls in half, and place more butter inside each roll. I have tried that, and I don't get a folded roll (like the traditional Parker House style). Instead my butter gets absorbed into my roll, and they still bake up in one mass. So, I usually forgo that step. It's not listed in the recipe, it's just something that my mom saw my Grandma do.

Set the rolls aside (again covered and in a warm place) to rise for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. They should double in size again. The longer they rise, the lighter the rolls will be.

After the second rise, brush with more butter (if they don't look shiny anymore) and bake them @ 350F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and they sound hollow when you tap them. Remove them from the oven and then again, liberally brush them with butter (another 1/2 stick, melted). I never said this was diet food. But they are heavenly. And on days like Thanksgiving, it's completely appropriate. :)
 Other options for baking these up is to make smaller dough balls and place 3 together in a muffin tin to make clover rolls. (Even just 2 to a muffin tin works nicely - they end up looking like those brown and serve rolls you can buy at the store.) If you like your rolls more crusty, you can bake them spaced out on a cookie sheet. I prefer mine more on the soft side, so I like using a baking dish.

These are THE BEST rolls, and I try to use that term sparingly. I find that in the Pinterest world of today it is really over used, but I sincerely mean it. I've not found a better roll! They are a family staple at our table. I hope they find a place at yours too!

Here's the recipe:
  This is her recipe, but all of the parenthesis are mine. :)

Grandma Roberts' Parker House Rolls

1 cup milk
1 cup lukewarm milk or water (recommended 105F)
1 T salt
5 T sugar
1 cake yeast (or 1 T dry yeast - I use rapid rise yeast)
6 T melted shortening (or veg oil, or melted butter)
6 cups sifted flour (maybe more depending on the day)
*butter (1 stick -8 oz-, divided and melted. I like salted butter, but unsalted is fine.)

In a small sauce pan scald the milk (heat to just before boiling), and turn off the heat. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool (to 120F). Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk (or water) and add to the (scalded and cooled) milk mixture. Add in 3 cups of the flour and stir. Add in the shortening (or butter or oil) and the remaining flour. Rise and knead twice. Use melted butter generously. (This means: knead the flour on a floured work surface until it comes together into a soft, but not sticky ball. Rise for 1 hour - until doubled - and then knead it again. Divide it into rolls, and brush liberally with 1/2 stick of melted butter. Cover and let rise for a second time, until  at least doubled in size.) Bake @ 350 for 15-20 minutes (or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Liberally brush the hot rolls with the other 1/2 stick of melted butter and cover with a towel until ready to serve.)

1 comment:

  1. mmmmm, these look so good! nothing like a homemade roll :)