My crinkled page from Gourmet magazine (1992) for Parker House Rolls has served me well over the years, but the instructions made them seem more complicated than they really are. Hopefully I have enhanced the original with my instructions below. You need about 4 hours and some basic ingredients. I hope you will try them.
- Old School: Mix this dough with a wooden spoon and bowl if you don’t have, or don’t want to use, a standing mixer. A great way for kids to participate.
- This dough is a great basic and can be use to make other shapes of dinner rolls — once you have the Parkers down, feel free to experiment with cloverleafs or other shapes.
- This recipe can be doubled and the rolls will fit on a standard half-sheet pan.
- Freeze: You can freeze unbaked rolls for up to 1 month. Bake from frozen, just increase the time a few minutes.
- 1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup whole milk, heated to lukewarm
- 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum organic)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, melted (for brushing on rolls while forming them)
- Measure water in 1 cup glass measuring cup (warm, not too hot or you will kill the yeast) and sprinkle yeast on top. Mix gently and let yeast “proof”, which just means to let it activate. You can tell this is happening because the yeast gets puffy in the water - this will take about 5 minutes.
- In the work bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the warm milk, the shortening, 3 tablespoons butter cut into bits, the sugar, the salt, and the egg until well combined. Stir in the yeast and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until well combined then add the remaining 1 1/2 - 2 cups flour, just enough to make a soft dough.
- Trade the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead the dough for 1 minute then rest for 10 minutes. Knead the dough 1 minute more then turn the dough out on a floured countertop and knead by hand for another minute or so until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Transfer dough to a buttered large bowl, turning it to coat it with the butter. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until it is double in bulk.
- Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over low heat. Punch down the dough and divide it into 2 pieces. Keeping the other piece covered in the bowl, roll 1 piece of dough on a floured surface into an approximate rectangle, about 16x8. With a pizza wheel or knife, cut the rectangle once, down the middle, the long way. Now cut across the short way, dividing the rectangle in half, then each half into quarters, so you have 16 pieces.
- Butter a baking sheet (a quarter sheet pan is ideal (12x8.5 inches), or you can fill part of a larger baking sheet pan) and set aside. With a pastry brush or spoon, coat the bottom half of each piece with some of the melted butter. Fold the top half of each piece over the butter-coated bottom half, so that it extends about 1/2 inch. Lay the rolls in the buttered baking sheet, so that the fold of each roll rests on the extending flap of the roll preceding it, to prevent the rolls from opening up while baking. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 15 - 18 minutes, or until they are golden brown.