This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.
When I was growing up, Parker House Rolls were a family classic. This was long before I moved to Boston and understood the regional significance of these rolls; all I knew was that whenever someone said these three words, people got excited.
I suppose the taste didn’t make that big of an impression on me at the time. Some of that “bland New England food,” I dismissed them in favor of the bold flavors of Italian sausage with fennel, acidic tomato sauces and herb-stuffed artichokes with plenty of butter. While rolls in general were an afterthought to me, when pressed, I fell whole-heartedly in the camp of Parker House Rolls’ arch-nemesis and number one competitor at the dinner table, the sweet and sexy Hungarian Rolls.
Both roll recipes are a bit of work, in their own way. Yeast breads both, Parker House Rolls need to be rolled out and cut with a biscuit cutter before being brushed with butter and folded, while Hungarian Rolls need to be divided, hand-rolled, and dipped in sugar and butter before being arranged monkey-bread style in a tube pan with a hefty sprinkling of raisins between each layer.
So when I saw a recipe for Parker House Rolls in a recent issue of Bon Appetit that skipped the use of a biscuit cutter in favor of a rectangular tiled formation in a pan, I was intrigued. It had been years since I had eaten these rolls, and I was preparing a menu with strong colonial influences, after all.
But I wanted the recipe to be even easier. Enter my best friend the bread machine. I’m happy to say that my machine adaptation worked out perfectly, and that these are truly a cinch to make. More happily still, I’m pleased to report that the taste has made quite an impression on my adult taste buds, and most certainly have shrugged off the label of “bland.” While lovely served warm with butter and dipped in gravy alongside a hearty feast, I find these rolls truly shine the next morning when you steal down to the kitchen for a few leftovers slathered with butter and jam.
Easy Bread Machine Parker House Rolls
from Fannie Farmer via Bon Appetit, adapted for use with a bread machine by The Hungry Crafter
1 cup whole milk, warmed
¼ cup vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco)
1 room-temperature large egg, lightly beaten with fork
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
¼ cup unsalted butter
Maldon sea salt (optional)
Place the first six ingredients in your bread machine pan in the order listed (important!). Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast. Insert pan into bread machine and run the dough cycle.
When dough cycle is complete, preheat oven to 350°F and melt the butter in the microwave. Lightly brush a 13×9-inch metal baking dish with some melted butter. Remove dough to work surface, punch down, and divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 12×6-inch rectangle.
Cut lengthwise into three 2-inch-wide strips; cut each crosswise into three 4×2-inch rectangles. Brush half of each (about 2×2-inch) with melted butter; fold unbuttered side over, allowing ¼-inch overhang. Place flat in 1 corner of prepared baking dish, folded edge against short side of dish. 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. Bake rolls until golden and puffed, about 25 minutes. Brush with butter; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.