Truth: I haven’t been this excited about a new recipe for awhile. I’ve never been a bun-making person. Bread, yes – crusty sourdough, no-knead and W’s favourite Julia Child sandwich loaf (with or without beans), but I didn’t grow up with dinner rolls on dinner tables, so I never really got into it.
So yesterday, Angela requested Parker House rolls for Thanksgiving – she said it was the one thing that always had to be on their table. I had made them before, but not for awhile… I poked around and came across several recipes that had more or less the same formula – Bon Appetit, King Arthur Flour… dough enriched with lard (I used butter, because of course) and an egg, brushed with melted butter before folding and again after baking, and sprinkled with flaky salt immediately upon exiting the oven. The fold, of course, is what makes it a Parker House roll.
Guess what? Angela was right – these are not rolls, but perfectly soft, buttery clouds that are practically designed for stuffing with turkey and cranberry sauce. (Here’s this morning’s chat!) The originals, invented in the same 19th century Boston hotel that came up with the first Boston cream pie, were made with dough cut into rounds, dipped in butter and folded in half – but they tend to pop open in the oven. Someone at some point came up with a new method in which the dough is rolled and cut into rectangles, brushed with butter and folded not quite in half, leaving an edge sticking out. Last time I made them, I stacked them like shingles – this time I followed the King Arthur Flour directive, and these will now forever be part of our Thanksgiving (and always – why wait for a holiday?) repertoire.
The other thing about PH rolls, besides their baked-in fold that makes them perfect for stuffing with pulled pork or turning into little picnic sandwiches, is the butter – you have a ramekin of melted butter at the ready to brush the baking dish with, then the buns themselves as soon as they come out of the oven, so that they’re buttery with a bit of salty crunch on the outside, super soft on the inside.
I’ve already imagined these sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar after the butter (before the fold) – or garlic and cheese – or leftover turkey, ham and cheese or really any sandwich-y filling baked right inside, like a soft steamed bun. Right?