Parker House Rolls

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Growing up, I wasn’t allowed white bread. I would relish my grandmother’s ‘plastic’ cheese grilled cheese on Wonderbread. I also looked forward to eating at family get togethers; b-lining it for the soft, pillowy white rolls. Slathered with butter or rolled into an easily mouldable ball, I loved love white bread.

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Oddly enough though, as a treat we had Pillsbury crescent rolls as a ‘treat’ lunch. I would tend to believe they’re worse than white bread, but you didn’t see me complaining. This bleached white variety was even sweeter and brought to the nth degree of childhood trash when blanketing a hot dog and slathered with ketchup…..

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I’m getting off track. Point is: these rolls are what I’ve been looking for all my life -without actually realizing it. Rich tender dough, made so with butter, milk and sugar, makes a brioche-like base for these tiny, heavenly bites. The recipe yields 36, but you can definitely make them bigger, probably even bake the whole thing in a loaf pan and replicating the most luscious white bread you’ve ever tasted.

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They are a bit tedious, however on a lazy Christmas (or weekend) morning, nothing beats the ritual task of baking your own bread. You can’t be in a rush when baking any kind of bread, these hand buttered, hand folded bundles are no exception. Believe me though, every minute you spend on these is worth it.

Parker House Rolls

Makes 36

Adapted from Bon Appetite Magazine

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons /1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup room temperature butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. Brown 1/4 cup butter in small pan on medium heat, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Whisk yeast and 1/4 cup warm water (110°F-115°F) in a small bowl; let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat 1 cup whole milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just warm. Combine 1/4 cup butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl. Add warm milk; whisk to blend, breaking up shortening into small clumps (it may not melt completely). Whisk in yeast mixture and 1 room-temperature egg.
  4. Add 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Knead dough with lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface until smooth, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly brush a 13×9″ baking dish with some melted butter. Punch down dough; divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 12×6″ rectangle. I found a ruler/tape measure worked really well to be sure your measurements are precise.
  7. Cut lengthwise into three 2″-wide strips; cut each crosswise into three 4×2″ rectangles. Brush half of each (about 2×2″) with melted butter; fold unbuttered side over, allowing 1/4″ overhang. Place flat in 1 corner of dish, folded edge against short side of dish.
  8. Add remaining rolls, shingling to form 1 long row. Repeat with remaining dough for 4 rows. Brush with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic, and chill for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.
  9. Bake rolls until golden and puffed, 25-35 minutes. Brush with butter; sprinkle flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) over. Serve warm.
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