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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Parker House Rolls



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I was raised in an apartment that was in one of four buildings set around a central courtyard. The buildings each contained four duplex and two garden units. The complex had twelve courtyards that, when viewed from the air, resembled military housing, save for the extensive landscaping and oversized buildings that housed the large apartments. During the war years, a scant male presence created a community of women who, of necessity, learned to fend for themselves. They formed tightly knit groups and established support systems that I haven't seen the likes of since, and there were times that it was impossible to distinguish neighbors from family members. Holidays tended to be communal affairs. You've already met Hannie and Mrs. P. who lived in the duplexes to the left of ours. You have yet to meet Anita who lived across the hall in our half of the building. She was young, married, but childless, and was a mathematician working on a project at the University of Chicago. More interesting to me at the time was the Christmas tree she kept in her living room. It was put up the year her husband was sent to North Africa and remained there until his homecoming. The tree was by then an ornamented stick, but it stood watch like a sentinel connecting her to him while he was away. Anita was no match for the cooking of Hannie or Mrs. P., but she did her share of work for our parties which were held in the basement laundry room. It was an expanse of about 75 feet that separated the two garden apartments from each other. The basement was whitewashed and curtained and, under the eagle eye of Mrs. P., a deliberate effort was made to keep it immaculate. On special occasions, a wringer washer, shared by all the neighbors, was rolled away and wash tubs were boarded and draped to hold the evenings bounty. Fels Naptha and bleach competed with the wonderful aromas that wafted down the stairs to the basement. Anita usually brought her Parker House rolls. They were all the rage back then and considered to be quite stylish. The rolls were first served at the Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston in the mid 1870's. While the rolls were sold to other hotels and restaurants, the ingredients were kept secret until 1933 when the recipe was requested by President Roosevelt. Anita's rolls were delicious. They were light and fluffy and the aroma as they baked could drive you mad. While I suspect memory plays tricks with reason, I've never had rolls that tasted quite as good as hers. This recipe is the closest I've ever come to matching them. I hope you enjoy them.

Parker House Rolls...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


Ingredients:

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar, divided use
1/2 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter, divided use
6 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
1) Combine yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar and water in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes. Add milk, reserved 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 cup melted butter to yeast. Add 1-1/2 cups flour and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. With mixer at low speed, add 4 cups of flour, a cup at a time, beating until a soft dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let double in volume, about 1 hour.
2) Punch down dough and turn onto a lightly floured board. Let rest for 5 minutes. Roll dough into a sheet 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Crease each round in the middle with the back of a knife. Brush exposed surfaces with reserved butter. Fold dough over and press lightly to seal. Place rolls 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Cover lightly and allow to rise again until nearly double in volume,
about 35 minutes.
3) Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on racks. Yield: 36 rolls.

You might also enjoy these recipes:
Torpedo Rolls - One Perfect Bite
Kaiser Rolls - One Perfect Bite
Buttermilk Cluster with Blue Poppy Seeds - One Perfect Bite

This post is being linked to:
Wild Yeast - Yeast Spotting

63 comments :

PranisKitchen said...

delicious rolls..

momgateway said...

I've been searching for the softest rolls for a long time but many recipes I've tried never came close... maybe this time your recipe will be the perfect one..so excited to try it soon

sweetlife said...

great rolls, I have been craving rolls lately, these look so temptimg..

sweetlife

Jaynie said...

There's nothing better than a good soft, buttery roll. These look great.

Dianne said...

Oh, what a neat story...I will have to come back and read the previous entries about your growing up years! These rolls sound like my Mama's...I definitely want to try them.

Sushma Mallya said...

SO beautiful rolls, too good mary..

The Empress said...

Oh, how the house must've smelled so beautifully.

What a memory.

MaryMoh said...

A lovely story. I'm trying to imagine the scene :D Your rolls look soft and delicious to me. I love freshly made bread...smells and taste awesome....mmmm

DailyChef said...

love the story. Also love the rolls. I think they'll be the perfect complement to the pasta I plan on serving this weekend for guests. :)

KathyB. said...

I have made Parker House rolls and they are the best when freshly home made. I especially love the story you write about this recipe...your writing makes all the recipes so much more precious Mary. Do you have any contact with any of your old neighbors now, so very many years later?

Mary at Deep South Dish said...

A great old fashioned roll that I suspect will never fall out of favor! What I crave are the silliest thing - those wonderful yeast rolls my elementary school use to make. I swear I can smell them right now. My mom used to cook there so I'd go to school early with her and get to help out in the kitchen punching milk cartons and helping with other easy tasks. My early start to my love of cooking I suppose. But those rolls - fresh baked and buttered on top, my goodness. I wish I could duplicate those for sure.

Mary said...

Kathy, I kept in contact with all of them. They now have all passed, but they made my childhood a wonderful, almost joyful thing. I was very fortunate.

Cherine said...

Gorgeous rolls, they're so cute & tempting!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

What an interesting story followed by great rolls. Diane

Ana Powell said...

Thanks for sharing your life story with us.
Delicious rolls x

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Thanks for sharing your story, this roll look cute and delicious!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Thanks for sharing your story, this roll look cute and delicious!

Allie and Pattie said...

Mary, this is what I make when I want to give my husband a special treat- he adores them. Such lovely memories. I must go back through your archives and catch up
xoxo Pattie

Donna-FFW said...

One of my most favorite memories is sunday mornings after church( yes I went to church) my mom would buy these rolls fresh from the bakery. They did have a dusting of powdered sugar or maybe it was flour on top? I loved them.. Thanks for bringing back the fond, very fond memory.

®osadimaggio63 said...

Leggere del passato altrui è sempre molto emozionante...
Questi panini assomigliano ai nostri piccoli panini fatti con il latte ed il burro.... Per il fine settimana voglio provare la tua ricetta per vedere se, come sapore, si avvicinano a quelli italiani, che noi in genere facciamo mangiare ai bimbi per la colazione del pomeriggio con della marmellata.
Buona serata Myriam

Martha said...

I love parker house rolls! My grandmother would sometimes make them -- she being the bread baker and roll maker in the family! And how I could eat them!

Kim said...

What a wonderful story Mary. Thank you for sharing with us. I wish the power of community was as strong now as it once was. As it is, people are too busy hustling around now to pay attention to their neighbors.
Parker House Rolls are so tasty and yours look amazing, soft, and delicious! I make parker house rolls often, and would love to try yours.

Federica said...

mi piace moltissimo fare il pane...questi pani devono essere buonissimi! complimenti!!! un abbraccio!

Foley said...

Finally! The first time I actually knew the origin of your post...Parker House Rolls.
You have such great memories of growing up..love reading about them!
The rolls look so good I think I can actually smell them...

Ann said...

OMG! it looks fantastic.

Sweet Southern Prep said...

These look delicious, and melt-in-your-mouth yummy! Great post, I'd have to be pretty ambitious to recreate them, with scalding milk and such. I don't even know how you'd do that. :)

San said...

Cute story behind these gorgeous rolls,enjoyed reading it.Bet it would have tasted divine.Lately iam not so excited about my breakfast being the same cereals or bread.Gonna try your rolls as an alternative.Thanks for the recipe aunt mary.Can i call u as aunt? I don't feel like calling u by name.Awaiting your next post eagerly.

Debbi Smith said...

I swear I can smell these! Yum!

Megan said...

It sounds like a wonderful way to grow up Mary and your storytelling made me feel as if I was right there. My grandma had an old wringer washing machine (yes, I too remember those old things from my childhood :))when I was young and that brought back fun memories. The rolls look delicious!

From the Kitchen said...

Mary, I read, and enjoyed, every word of your posting. I saw it in black and white. On the small screen. Comfortable and inclusive. Is that complex still a part of Chicago's landscape? Oh yes, I can smell the aroma of those rolls wafting through windows and doors.

Best,
Bonnie

Claudia said...

You sent me back to my courtyard apartments in Queens - the camaraderie of neighbors - support of all. Then you capped it with these splendid rolls. What a lovely read and recipe.

Mary said...

Bonnie, the complex still exists. It is called Chatham Park Village.

Valérie said...

What a wonderful story, and you tell it so well... Knowing the inspiration behind these rolls makes them all the more special.

Bellini Valli said...

There was a bakery in my hometown that made Parker House rolls. On all special occasions we would order them (heaven forbid if they didn't show up) I'd love to make them myself.

Joe Ambrosino said...

A lovely story, Mary. It brings back memories of my own childhood in a six family apartment house in Queens, New York in a time when neighborhoods were more like small towns and everyone knew one another.

I love fresh rolls. I will keep this recipe for our next family meal.

Bridgett said...

I loved reading this post! Fresh rolls, such as this, are just divine when straight out of the oven. I am craving some now!

Gloria said...

Mary, these rolls look delicious! xxxx gloria

Seattle DUI attorney said...

Very nice comfort rolls. Thanks a lot for baking and sharing.

Lucie said...

Mary, I always love the stories you write about--few blogs give me as much pleasure to read as yours!

Kamalika said...

The rolls look so perfect and the snap is very beautiful...take care and have a nice day....

Rachana Kothari said...

The rolls look so tempting...so soft and buttery :)

Susi said...

These rolls look like Milchbroetchen which I grew up with. Thank you for a recipe that will make me feel like home again!

Cool Lassi(e) said...

Soft and perfect little rolls!

Lindy said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog...sometimes I think I'm talking to myself. You have quite the food blog!

Karen said...

My Mom was born and raised south of Boston and always loved Parker House Rolls. She always thought them to be quite elegant. Thanks for the nice story to go along with these!

Katy said...

I've been looking at recipes for PHR and here you are with them all beautiful and golden making me mad with want. Mary, these look superb! Now I definitely have to make these soon.

sweetjeanette said...

Mary! Great recipe. If you read my post on RealWomenEat.com, you'll know that I have a fear of yeast! LOL. Since facing it in last month's Cook-N-Critique with the cinnamon rolls, I just might have to try your Parker House Rolls!! Thank you!

Thanks again for visiting my (other) blog at www.realwomeneat.com

scrambledhenfruit said...

These are just like the rolls I grew up with and still make for Thanksgiving dinner. I love reading your stories, Mary. Thanks for reminiscing! Betty

tasteofbeirut said...

Mary
Thanks for the recipe these rolls look so good and have such a nice sheen on them; but most of all, I enjoyed the story of that community of women you grew up surrounded with. How fun and so much more interesting than the conventional suburbian lifestyle, don't you think?

Biren said...

I make these rolls too but mine are not as perfect as these. Yours look absolutely wonderful! I can almost smell the aroma from your kitchen :)

Chef Fresco said...

These look so perfectly made! Thanks for the recipe!

teresa said...

oh those look so delicious!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Your apt family sounds like the one I was in in St Louis in the 70's. Still have a friend from the group.
Parker House Rolls were always my favorites of all my Dad's bakings.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Mary, I really enjoyed your story about war and women. Women are so incredibly strong.

I haven' had a good Parker House roll in years. I'll be giving this recipe a try.
Sam

Nisha said...

What a beautiful story and rolls looks delicious .

My Little Space said...

My parents still staying at the 3 storey flat and all the neighbours seems so nice and helpful.I grew up there! Unlike the big city lives! No one speak to no one!
Regards, Kristy

Arlette said...

These look delicious...
I have a weakness to bread recipes.. I have to admit..
Thanks for sharing the Chocolate Babaka Bread.. I made it last week for the show and it was heavenly.
posted some photos .

Rambling Tart said...

Oh, I LOVE this story, Mary! :-) I smiled the whole way through. :-) And I can almost smell these gorgeous rolls. :-)

Mimi said...

Great post. I felt like I was reading a novel.

Mary said...

Mimi, I was unable to connect to your blog. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you'll visit with us more often. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Les said...

My great-grandmother used to make Parker House rolls for every holiday gathering. My brothers and I could easily eat half a dozen! I finally got a recipe from my mom, but they never tasted quite the same as my great-grandmother's. I'm thrilled to see your recipe and will have to give them a try.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm enjoying yours!

Simply Mel said...

These rolls bring back such fond memories of my childhood ~ eating Southern Dinners buffet style with my grandparents at the local diners. Now where I live, Cavallo Point (a Michelin rated restaurant) serves them ~ fabulous!

Facilities Management Melbourne said...

Lovely story. Also those pieces so cute. Can't stop thinking them

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