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Parker House Rolls with Molasses Butter

December 10, 2010

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.

Parker House Rolls: Before

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.

Parker House Rolls: After

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

15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2010 8:39 am

    I’ve always wanted to try parker house rolls! The molasses butter sounds fantastic with them.

    • December 10, 2010 9:07 am

      With the right mixer, they’re actually pretty easy. Time consuming because of the rise time, but easy nonetheless.

  2. December 10, 2010 9:12 am

    You had me ROFLOL with your escaping dough :) Enjoyed the #letslunch rolls :)

  3. December 10, 2010 10:14 am

    YUM! these look so awesome!! i’m glad someone else made a bread side too! (my post is coming…. )

  4. December 10, 2010 11:35 am

    These look great — I love the molasses butter! I think you did great under the circumstances, but yes maybe it’s a good idea to ask Santa for a Kitchen Aid. :) Those things are awesome.

  5. December 10, 2010 9:52 pm

    I wouldn’t call this a failure. Your pan is a mess, but what you made tasted good, so . . .
    You just need a good mixer. Or use a much wetter dough, like Kitchen Dreamer’s peasant bread, that you can make into Parker House rolls using a cookie scooper to shape and drop the dough balls.

    It’s a good thing you work out, because mixing all the flour in at the end couldn’t have been easy.:)

    • December 11, 2010 9:14 am

      So maybe it wasn’t a failure per se, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I *know* it could be better. Next time. And yes, the work outs helped with getting all the flour and butter incorporated. I also now know why some bakers have such strong forearms. =)

  6. December 11, 2010 1:00 am

    I don’t care what you say — these rolls look fantastic! Molasses butter? Seriously? How can you go wrong with that? I think that these are beautiful, amazing-looking rolls. I’ve never tried to make them. So impressive. I’m still stuck on molasses butter. My dad used to mix up his own with a fork and put on cornpone. Love it.

  7. December 11, 2010 11:29 pm

    Joining the choir of praise for the rolls – Oh MY they look oozy-good!!

  8. December 12, 2010 10:27 am

    I LOVE the looks of these. I’ve never baked with molasses butter before but now it’s definitely going on the list! Oozy good is right…


  1. Let’s Lunch: Leek Gratin « Bon Vivant
  2. Mushroom-Leek Quinoa Salad
  3. Green Bean Casserole « Free Range Cookies Blog
  4. Let’s Lunch: Leek Gratin » Beyond the Plate
  5. Green Bean Casserole

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