parker house rolls [12in2012]

i typically eat dinner rolls on only one day each year, thanksgiving. ever since i can remember, we have had brown 'n serve dinner rolls at thanksgiving. found in the frozen foods section of the grocery story, they're small rolls that need a quick pop in the oven to bake them off. we go through a couple bags of them each thanksgiving and they're always completely devoured by the end of the meal. each year, someone tries to change it up with homemade rolls or bread, which results in groans and complaints from all of us grandkids. which was fine, 20 years ago when we were kids. but now, as adults, we can't quite break away from the brown 'n serves. some things never change.

think of these rolls as a homemade version of brown 'n serves. only these have flavor, are lighter and fluffier, and are about twice the size. 

the first time i made these rolls i had two critical errors: yeast issues and i followed king arthur's directions for laminating the dough. my yeast was either bad (aka dead) or i didn't bloom it and should have (since i didn't use instant yeast, my yeast needed a chance to bloom before mixing it with the other ingredients) since my rolls came out more like hockey pucks than light and fluffy. my yeast issues made the dough laminating even worse. the original recipe calls for rolling out the dough, spreading a layer of melted butter, folding the dough in half and cutting out rolls to form them. this leaves a layer of butter in the middle of the rolls. what i ended up with was a divide through the middle where the butter layer was. needless to say, it was not so good.

in my second attempt, i used new yeast and i was sure to bloom it first before using it. and when it came time to forming the rolls, i skipped the melted butter stage all together. i had perfectly light and fluffy rolls.

parker house rolls
adapted from king arthur flour
3 hours, makes 16 rolls

if you choose to use instant yeast, there's no need to bloom it first. skip step 1 and simply add it with the rest of the ingredients in step 2.

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup milk, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted or very soft
1 egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing on the finished rolls
  1. in a large bowl, add the milk and yeast and let sit for five to ten minutes, until the yeast is bloomed. the yeast will foam up slightly and will have a strong, yeasty smell. if this doesn't happen, your yeast is bad and the rolls won't rise.
  2. once the yeast has bloomed, add the sugar, flours, salt, butter, and egg and mix just until combined.
  3. knead the dough by hand for about ten minutes or with your mixer's dough hook attachment for about seven minutes, until smooth.
  4. grease a large bowl and transfer the dough to it. cover loosely with a towel and let rise about an hour and a half until doubled in size.
  5. grease a nine by thirteen inch baking pan and set aside. divide the dough into sixteen relatively equal portions. form each dough portion into a ball and place in the pan in four rows of four. use your fingers to push the dough balls down to cover the bottom of the pan. cover the pan loosely with a towel and let rise an additional hour.
  6. preheat your oven to 350F. bake the rolls about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. brush with melted butter as soon as they are taken out of the oven. let cool in the pan.

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