We’re a family of bread lovers, particularly partial to pillowy soft dinner rolls. No amount, and I really mean no amount, of bread recipes can ever be enough for us. But I think we finally landed on one that satisfies even our bottomless need for carb-loaded nirvana – the Parker House rolls.
A godly amount of butter in the dough and on the dough makes these dinner rolls defiantly rich. And as if that was not enough butter, the yeasty goodness lends them such a light and delicious texture that each piece you tug apart calls for some more.
Why is it called Parker House rolls?
The story goes something like this. Way back in 1870s, there was an angry baker at the Parker House Hotel in Boston who tossed unfinished rolls in an oven.
The outcome? Parker House rolls - butter-rich inside and crisp on the outside with just an undertone of sweetness. The rest, as they say, is history.
I can’t attest to the veracity of the tale, but I can say that these are unrivaled among all dinner rolls. Traditionally, Parker House rolls are served at Thanksgiving. However, the soft, tender rolls simply beg to be made every day.
How to make Parker House rolls?
- In lukewarm milk, dissolve yeast and sugar. Let it sit for about ten minutes till the mixture is bubbly and foamy.
- Whisk in egg, butter, and salt followed by all-purpose flour.
- Once the flour is combined, knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes. It will start out as shaggy, but slowly become smooth and elastic. Also, go by the look and feel of the dough. It has to be nice, supple, and soft but not sticky.
- Use a stand mixer to knead if you have a dough hook. It will take less time, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Shape the Parker House rolls
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it puff up.
- When it’s one and half times in bulk, turn it over on a lightly floured work surface and punch it down.
- Roll the dough out to a thickness of ½ inch and then with a cookie cutter, carve out circles.
- Brush each circle with melted butter. My cutter was 1.5 inches, giving me 16 small rolls. A 2/2.5 inch cookie cutter will give you about 12 average-sized rolls.
- Using a chopstick, wooden skewer or the blunt side of a butter knife, make an indent in the center.
- Fold over one half of each circle over the other, like a taco.
- Place the folded circles on a tray and cover. Let the dough rise once again for about 15 to 20 minutes. You want it puffy, not doubled in volume.
- Bake in a preheated oven for around 18 to 20 minutes. My advice is to keep an eye out after the 15-minute mark, as each oven is different.
Serving ideas for the rolls
Parker House rolls go well with just about anything! Brush them with butter, sprinkle a few sea salt flakes, and serve warm. The dinner rolls fly out of the basket in seconds. You don’t need even a cup of tea to accompany them. But they are just as great with:
- A slathering of jam for breakfast.
- A dollop of cashew ricotta cheese as an evening snack.
- A bowl of hot soup for dinner.
- The dough is dry or sticky: Incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels too dry when you’re kneading. In case it feels too sticky, add more flour.
- Consistency is crucial: You don’t want a firm, tight dough. You want it soft and supple because that is how you get light-as-air, golden-brown rolls.
- Do knead the dough well: That will develop the gluten framework, making the rolls softer.
- Choose any shape: There is no right or wrong way of shaping Parker House rolls. Instead of a cookie-cutter, you can roll out the dough, then cut in squares, crescents, triangles, or rectangles. Whatever catches your fancy. Brush with butter, fold, and then proceed to bake!
How do you heat Parker House Rolls?
You can easily reheat Parker House Rolls in a preheated oven. Sprinkle them with a bit of water and then reheat for 5 mins.
What else can you use in the Parker House Rolls?
Flour: I’ve not tried them with whole-wheat flour, but I’m pretty sure they’ll turn out well. If you try them with whole wheat, share your experience. I’d like to know how it went.
Sugar: Bake with whichever sugar you prefer – regular, raw, cane – all of them work.
Milk: By chance, I was all out of my trusted coconut milk, so I made do with regular milk. For those who would rather use a dairy-free alternative, keep this in mind – the higher the fat content in your milk, the softer the rolls will be.
Butter: The rolls hit you like the most wonderful carb-loaded wave because of one reason – mounds of butter. I used the regular salted kind. For unsalted butter, increase the salt amount in the recipe by a quarter teaspoon.
Eggless: I haven’t ever made eggless Parker House Rolls. We’re still basking in the lusciously rich flavor of these. If you do bake them without eggs, I'm sure they will come out well, but the texture could be a bit different.
All the reasons to try the Parker House rolls
It’s fast - Ready in less than 3 hours
Have a melt-in-the-mouth texture
Great for any festive get-together or for a simple weekday dinner
The perfect season to dip these divine rolls in simmering soups
Parker House Rolls
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1.5 tsp Dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 4 tbsp Butter, softened
- 1 Egg
- 2.5 cup All-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Butter, softened for spreading on the dough
- Combine milk, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let this mixture rest for 10 minutes until it is bubbly.
- Add in the butter and egg. Mix well.
- Stir in the flour and salt. Mix well.
- Turn the shaggy mixture out on a floured surface and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.You can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook for kneading the dough.
- If the dough seems a bit hard or dryish, add more milk,1 tablespoon at a time.If it seems too wet, add more flour.
- Place the ready dough in a greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 1-1.5 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- When the dough is doubled in size, it’s ready for the second kneading.
- Turn it out on a floured work surface. Punch the dough down and knead briefly for 1-2 minutes.
- Roll the dough to 1/2" thickness and using a cookie cutter, cut out into circles. I used a small 1.5" round cookie cutter and was able to get 16 small rolls.If you use a regular 2-2.5" cookie cutter, you will get 12, average-sized rolls.You can also cut the rolled-out dough into rectangles or squares.
- Brush the circles with butter.
- Use a skewer to make an indent in the center of each circle and fold one half over the other.
- Carefully place them on a baking tray. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 15-20 minutes until puffy.
- Preheat your oven to 190C.
- Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and brush with additional butter and sprinkle some sea salt if you wish.
- Serve warm. Enjoy!