Sourdough Parker House Rolls

In homage to the city to which I am travelling today, I give you rolls made famous by the Boston hotel that first served them in the late nineteenth century: the Parker House. As the story goes, an angry pastry chef was in a rush and threw his dinner roll dough into the oven. Literally, threw. They came out dented and weirdly shapen, which is really the only distinguishing feature of a Parker House roll, that, and a lot of butter.
Parker House Rolls
Baking Illustrated

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200°F. Once oven reaches 200°F, maintain oven temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off heat.

1 ¼ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
Heat milk and sugar together in small saucepan or in microwave until mixture is lukewarm (about 100°F).

I cup sourdough starter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Whisk leaven with egg and set aside.

16 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 ½ cups)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Combine flour and salt in bowl with a dough whisk or wooden spoon.

Add ⅓ of milk mixture and mix with dough whisk or wooden spoon to combine. Add another ⅓ of milk mixture and repeat twice until combined.
8 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 pieces, softened
5 ounces all-purpose flour (about ½ cup)

In a small bowl, cream butter and flour with an electric hand mixer.
Add creamed butter to large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk to combine.
Place dough in the bowl of a stand mixture and mix until dough is smooth but still sticky, about 6 minutes.

By hand, form dough into a ball by flattening dough and folding the four corners into the middle of the dough. Flip over and shape into a disc. Lightly spray the sides of a large bowl with cooking oil. Place dough ball into bowl and turn several times to lightly coat dough. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once dough has doubled, press down, replace plastic wrap, and allow dough to rest for 5 minutes.

2 tablespoons butter, melted
Melt butter in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, spread melted butter on bottom and sides of two rimmed baking sheets.
6 tablespoons butter, meltedImageImageImage
Roll dough out on a generously floured work surface until about ½ inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out 2 ½ inch circles of dough. Coat each circle with melted butter and then fold in half, pressing lightly on the sides to seal the dough. Place on prepared cookie sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Lightly brush tops of rolls with remaining butter.

Cover shaped rolls with a towel or plastic wrap and let right until puffed up, about 30 to 45 minutes.Baking
Preheat oven to 375°F.

When rolls have risen, remove towels or plastic wrap and bake at 375°F until tops of the rolls are a dark golden brown, about 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm. Lightly brush tops of rolls with remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Set rolls in warm place and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

When rolls are almost fully risen, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are dark golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer rolls to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Again, I was in a rush to get these out quick, and so I squished all the dough onto one pan. The dents were absorbed by the other rolls, so instead they appear to be a confluent monolayer of skin cells under the microscope, or cars in traffic in downtown Boston—the fray into which I am headed this afternoon. Looking forward to AWP Conference, and hoping to run into Seamus Heaney in an Irish pub!

This post is featured on Sourdough Surprises, my favorite baking community blog.

8 thoughts on “Sourdough Parker House Rolls

  1. Haha, I love your creative simile comparing the rolls to Boston traffic, or skin cells – what a perfect combination of writer/doctor/baker you are! 🙂

Leave a Reply