Parker House Rolls with Molasses Butter
About two years ago, I made my very first batch of Parker House Rolls for Thanksgiving after being enthralled by Melissa Clark’s recipe in the New York Times. My parents were indulging my baking whim and figured, if all went awry, we could have brown ‘n’ serve rolls as back ups.
Much to our surprise – me in particular – the rolls came out just right. They may not have looked quite like the picture in the Times, but they were delicious. In fact, they were so good my Dranny asked me to make them again for Christmas dinner that same year. Let me tell you, that was a mighty high compliment in my books and I was pleased as punch.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to try to recreate that Parker House magic on my own with no guidance from my Dranny or Mom, both of whom are accomplished bakers. And this month’s #LetsLunch bunch* featuring holiday sides came along at just the right time to serve as a motivator to do so.
Yeah. Well. It didn’t go quite so smoothly this time. Even though I used Melissa’s recipe again. (Melissa’s Cranberry Parker House Rolls)
First of all, I have a flat-bowl mixer, not the KitchenAid mixer I used at my parents. The flat bowl meant the yeast didn’t activate the way it was supposed. It wasn’t until I was on the third attempt that I tilted the bowl a bit so that there was a pool of yeasty water activating away.
Then I ran into the challenge of the dough being too much for my poor little mixer. The dough climbed right up the beaters and tried to escape all together. I finally gave up on the beaters and mixed the last 2 1/2 cups of flour and all of the butter in by hand.
That worked. Sort of. Something wasn’t quite right with the dough.
The dough did rise, but it didn’t really double. I’m not sure if the problem was the yeast, the mixing “technique” or the temperature of my kitchen.
At that point though, I figured good enough would just have to do. I did not follow Melissa’s meticulous method for dividing the dough. Nor did I make the cranberry butter this time, which might be a fourth factor in the good, but could be better outcome.
What I did do was pinch off and handroll balls of dough that were about an inch in diameter. I then bundled three together and set them into the greased muffin tin. Using this method, I had about 18 rolls in total.
As a substitute for Melissa’s Cranberry Butter, I made a Molasses Butter using a stick of unsalted butter and about two or three teaspoons of molasses whipped in until smooth. I put a dollop of butter on to each roll. As you can see from the pictures, after the second rising and the baking, a good chunk of the molasses wound up on the muffin tin.
The rolls were good, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I’m still nibbling on a the last of them today, but I know the could’ve been better and fluffier. I guess the lesson learned this time around is: Ask Santa for my own KitchenAid or start saving up to buy one for myself.
*The #LetsLunch bunch was founded by Cheryl at A Tiger in the Kitchen and Ellise at Cowgirl Chef a while back. Each month, a bunch of us swap recipes featuring a common theme. This month, the theme was holiday sides. Quite frankly, in my family, you have to have good bread to accompany a holiday meal. As other members of the #LetsLunch bunch post their sides, I’ll share them here.
A Tiger in the Kitchen – Spicy Pickled Beets
Bon Vivant – Leek Gratin
Cooking in the Fruit Bowl – Kimchi Risotto Bake
Cowgirl Chef – Musroom-Leek Quinoa Salad
Free Range Cookies – Green Bean Casserole
GeoFooding – Plentywood, Montana
Kitchen Dreamer – Dave’s Peasant Bread
Showfood Chef – Celeriac Slaw