Parker House rolls are traditional stars of holiday meals
Made with 4 sticks of butter, split top calls for even more.
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.