Parker House rolls are tra­di­tional stars of hol­i­day meals

Made with 4 sticks of but­ter, split top calls for even more.

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD MATTERS - Bymelis­samartinez mmartinez@states­man.com Parker House rolls 4 cups whole milk 4 sticks but­ter, di­vided 1 cup sugar 4½ tea­spoons ac­tive dry yeast cups all-pur­pose flour, di­vided, plus more for dust­ing 1 heap­ing tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der 1 tea­spoons bak­ing s

Rolls are of­ten the af­ter­thought of a meal, but Parker House rolls are so di­vine they could stand alone as the in­spi­ra­tion for a big fam­ily din­ner.

The his­tory of the Parker House roll goes back to the late 1800s at the Parker House Ho­tel in Bos­ton, where they are still served.

More im­por­tantly, you can make them your­self for your fam­ily and friends this Christ­mas, and the soft, but­tery bread is sure to de­light.

They are at their best when the recipe is fol­lowed all the way through and they are con­sumed the same day.

How­ever, that may be rather im­prac­ti­cal for a hol­i­day meal with all its other mov­ing parts, so the in­cluded recipe of­fers di­rec­tions if you pre­fer to bake ahead of time, in­clud­ing an op­tion to freeze the rolls un­til a lit­tle more than an hour be­fore din­ner time.

Although the rolls are great on their own and the recipe does in­clude a whop­ping four sticks of but­ter, they do come out with a split in the mid­dle that asks to be pulled open and filled with even more but­ter, or per­haps some home­made jam (or even the fix­ings for a sand­wich).

This recipe can be started a day or two ahead if you re­frig­er­ate the dough or up to two weeks if you freeze the un­baked rolls af­ter you’ve formed them and dipped in but­ter. This recipe makes six dozen rolls, so make sure you have enough cookie sheets on hand for the fi­nal rise, or be pre­pared to re­frig­er­ate or freeze the re­main­ing dough.

Com­bine milk, 2 sticks but­ter and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a sim­mer, and when the mix­ture is hot (but not boil­ing) turn off heat and al­low to cool to just warmer than luke­warm, about 30 to 45 min­utes.

Sprin­kle the yeast and 8 cups flour into the milk and sugar mix­ture.

Stir with a wooden spoon to com­bine. Cover with a towel and al­low to rise for 1 hour. In a small bowl, mix to­gether bak­ing pow­der, bak­ing soda, salt and re­main­ing cup of flour.

Af­ter dough has risen for an hour, stir in this dry mix­ture un­til just com­bined.

At this point, you can re­frig­er­ate the dough for up to two days and then pro­ceed af­ter let­ting the dough warm to room tem­per­a­ture.

Di­vide dough in half, then turn out onto floured sur­face.

Knead dough by hand for 8 to 10 min­utes. (Or you can use a stand-up mixer with a dough hook at­tach­ment for 4 to 5 min­utes.)

Then form into a ball and cover with a towel and al­low to rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 min­utes. Re­peat with other half of dough.

Melt re­main­ing 2 sticks of but­ter in a saucepan and set aside to cool.

Us­ing a rolling pin, roll out dough onto a floured sur­face un­til 1/2-inch thick.

Cut cir­cles with a 2 1/2-inch bis­cuit cut­ter or a bowl or cup with sim­i­lar di­am­e­ter.

Dunk each dough cir­cle in melted but­ter (don’t be afraid to get your hands but­tery), then im­me­di­ately fold in half and place on a cookie sheet. Use one fin­ger to lightly press the edges to­gether. Re­peat with the rest of the dough. (At this point, you can flash freeze the rolls — or just a por­tion of them — by cov­er­ing with plas­tic wrap and freez­ing for two hours and then plac­ing in a plas­tic zip-top freezer bag.

Place rolls on a cookie sheet when ready to bake and pro­ceed with the recipe.)

Cover with a towel and al­low rolls to rise 30 to 45 min­utes, about an hour longer if they were frozen. When you have about 15 min­utes of ris­ing left, pre­heat oven to 400 de­grees. Re­move towel and bake for 15 min­utes. Re­move from oven and serve im­me­di­ately. Makes 6 dozen rolls.

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