Making yeast breads can be one of the most rewarding – and the most frustrating – cooking experiences. Ever. As we’ve all probably come to realize, too, recipes aren’t always written with the novice or amateur in mind, clueing readers in when a technique is actually more layered and detailed than they wrote. This is one reason I grew to like reviews of recipes. Thank you Epicurious, Food Network and tons of other helpful sites that allow them. You’ve saved my recipe bacon more than once.
One important thing learned while making these rolls: Active dry yeast needs longer to dissolve in your warm (110-115 degree F) liquid, whereas instant yeast needs less time. We’re using active dry yeast here. This is important, kids! Your yeast needs to be dissolved. And since we’re making rolls that we expect to literally rise to the occasion, well, it all hinges on the yeast.
Have your handy dandy cooking thermometer handy – ours looks like this. According to the directions, the yeast needs to dissolve in 110 – 115 degree F liquid, but we ended up doing ours the second time (yep, a second time) at around 120 degrees. Here’s why: at between 110-115 degrees, our yeast had gathered into these awful clumps that were pretty much impossible to dissolve AND after vigorously whisking them and the liquid, a couple minutes later it was stone cold. The liquid should still be at least a little warm as the yeast and liquid sets aside for ten minutes. SO. The second time we added in the yeast slowly, a little at a time, whisking from the moment we started pouring. This helped zero clumps to form and we were able to dissolve the yeast much quicker, keeping the liquid warmer, too. Winning!
The last thing about this method of prepping yeast: it did not foam or bubble up at all. Probably due to no sugary substance to feed the yeast. The sugar is in the flour mixture. Just wait till you see what the yeast does then.
This is the dough once the milk/yeast and flour mixtures have been combined for a few minutes. It looks like a fricken’ mess. Another amateur cook panic ensues – did we do this part right?!! What could’ve gone wrong?!! The dough didn’t look very “elastic and smooth” as the recipe said it would be. It looked more like Hot Friggin’ Mess to us. As it turns out, the dough was actually more elastic and smooth feeling once we removed it from the mixer bowl to an oil-lined one for rising. Huh! OK, panic over. For the moment.
Geeeeeeze, this bread making can be stressful when you’re not sure of the this’s and that’s.
At this point your bread dough is all tucked away for an hour’s nap in a nice deeeeep bowl. Wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, just wait till you see what it does in its sleep.
Holy YEAST MONSTERS! Lookit what all that yeast did while the dough was sleeping. It went from baby dough to grown up dough in a hurry. At this point, we breathed a sigh of relief, cuz this is the only sure-fire way to tell if your yeast is reacting as it should. YAY FOR YEAST.
After dividing the newly increased dough in half, it’s time to make wittle rolls! Start by rolling each half out to about 12 inches long. Ours were about 14 inches long. What can I say, I’m an enthusiastic roller-outer.
What I can’t do, ever, is cut pastry and dough evenly to save my life. Or yours. Or my kid’s. Everyone is doomed! The good thing is, if you have a piece with too much dough, pinch off what you don’t need and add it to another smaller piece. This worked fine for us.
So when you’ve rolled up all your piece of dough, nestle them into your pan and awweee, aren’t they just the cutest? They’re also going to be the tastiest.
Butter! Must have melted butter to brush the tops of the rolls after they rise a second time for 30 minutes.
And this is where Parker House Rolls become Everything Parker House Rolls. Gather you some salt, minced onion, minced garlic flakes and sesame seeds. Sprinkle the ever-loving you know what out of those rolls! I love this part. Huge fan of everything bagels here, so yeah, baby.
So, YEAH, making yeast breads can be rewarding. At this point I was doing my little The Baker Done DID IT dance over these. Earlier it was a different story, but the point is, they turned out purrrrrfect in the end. These were incredible. And delicious. And deliciously incredible! We fell on them after pictures like mad hungry beasties.
These are definitely going on my personal Thanksgiving menu this year. They’re exactly like a yeast roll should be: a little flaky, a lot soft and entirely devour-able. I’ll make them a day ahead next time, or it’s possible you could refrigerate the rolls before their second rising, tightly covered, and set them out thirty minutes or so before baking the next day and continue from their. Let them rise for that thirty minutes or until they’ve almost doubled in size again and follow the baking directions. Reasonably easy to do, these rolls are sure to be a hit.
Everything Parker House Rolls
from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen via Williams-Sonoma.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes Rise time: one hour thirty minutes Cook Time: about 20 minutes Level: Intermediate Makes: 24 rolls
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, plus 2 Tbs. melted butter
- 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 Tbs. sugar
- 1 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. Maldon sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. dried onion flakes
- 1/2 tsp. dried garlic flakes
- 1 tsp. white sesame seeds
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and the 8 Tbs. butter. Heat until the butter is melted, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to 105° to 115°F. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the 4 cups flour, the sugar and kosher salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the milk mixture and knead until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl, oil the inside of the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Divide the dough in half.
Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece of dough into a log 12 inches long. Using a bench scraper, divide each log into 12 equal pieces. Using the cupped palm of your hand, roll and shape each piece into a taut ball.
Arrange the dough balls in the prepared baking pan so there are 4 rows of 6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the Maldon sea salt, onion flakes, garlic flakes and sesame seeds.
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pan. Brush the tops of the rolls with the 2 Tbs. melted butter and sprinkle with the sea salt mixture. Bake until the rolls are golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll registers 190°F, 18 to 20 minutes. Invert the rolls onto a wire rack, then turn them right side up onto another rack. Let cool slightly before serving.
Maldon sea salt is a flaked salt, but if all you have is course sea salt as I did, just use a little less of it.
Be careful when removing the rolls from the pan and separating them – they’re very hot! Steam escaped a couple of times and got me when we were separating our rolls.
We put our yeast in the warm milk and butter at around 120-125 degrees, which seemed to work better then as we added the yeast and whisked it in. It was still warm when we set it aside for the ten minutes. The first time, at 110-115 degrees, the mixture was stone cold be the time we gave up trying to mess with messy yeast clumps. Whisk in your yeast a very little at a time to get it all incorporated with no clumps.
The topping mixture for the rolls – we doubled it, almost tripled it actually, because we really wanted to cover the rolls in that yummy everything stuff.