Parker House Inspired Rolls

October 2010

These oddly folded rolls equal two birds with one recipe.  The first bird is my entry into making breads and rolls for myself.  The second bird is working my way through my checkout-lane splurge. 

Parker House Inspired Rolls
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons pure cane sugar
1 envelope instant yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 cups St. Vincent’s unbleached all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 8 Tablespoons cut into 8 pieces and softened

Directions

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

Heat the milk and sugar together in a small saucepan until the mixture is lukewarm (about 110 degrees).  Whisk in the yeast and egg and set aside.

Combine 4 cups of the flour and salt in the bowl of a mixer and mix at the lowest speed to blend, about 15 seconds.

With the mixer still running at low speed, add the liquid mixture in a steady stream.  Mix until the flour is moistened, about 1 minute.  With mixer still running, slowly begin to add 8 Tablespoons of softened butter, 1 piece at a time, until it is incorporated into the dough.

Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough is thoroughly combined and scrappy, about 2 minutes longer.

Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth but still sticky, about 6 minutes (adding more flour in 1-Tablespoon increments, if necessary for the dough to clear the sides of the bowl).

Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth and soft but no longer sticky, about 1 minute.

Transfer the dough to a very lightly oiled large bowl.

Cover the bowl with a towel and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, about 45 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled, press it down and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 6 Tablespoons of butter and with a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a baking stone with 3 Tablespoons of the melted butter.

Divide the relaxed dough into 2 equal pieces and with your hands, pull and shape each piece until it is 18 inches long and about 1 ½ inches across.

With a bench scraper, cut each length of dough into twelve 1 ½ -inch pieces.

Loosely cover all 24 pieces with plastic wrap.

With a cupped palm, roll each piece of dough into a smooth, tight ball and then loosely cover it with plastic wrap.  Beginning with the ball rounded first, use your palm to flatten the center of the dough ball until the circle becomes a rough oval with the edges thicker than the middle.

Lightly brush the dough with melted butter, then fold in half and seal edges.

Place each roll on the prepared stone, arranging them in 3 evenly spaced rows.

Lightly brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining 3 Tablespoons of melted butter and loosely cover them with plastic wrap.

Set the rolls in a warm place an let them rise until almost doubled in size and touching one another, about 45 minutes.

When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the rolls until the tops are dark golden brown, 20-22 minutes.

Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and cool them for 10 minutes.

Serve warm!

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