Beard / Brown Rolls
Parker House Rolls (originally from Beard on Bread) are traditionally served at holiday meals in the husband's family. I've always found them difficult to prepare using Beard's instructions, but I've had more reliable success using Alton Brown's methods for construction. So I rewrote Beard's recipe to be more specific, and to take advantage of modern conveniences such as instant yeast and stand mixers. I prepare these rolls the night before serving, and bake them in the morning.
Gather these together before you start:
- 2 packages instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, very soft or slightly melted
- 2 cups milk, room temperature
- 30 oz flour (1 lb 14 oz): The total amount of flour called for is 6 cups, but please measure the flour by weight, and not by volume. You may not need to all of this flour, but don't add any more than called for.
- 2 teaspoons salt
- sprayable butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup melted butter
Brown sez: Instant yeast (also known as "rapid rise" yeast) is superior to active dry yeast and can be substituted 1 for 1. Instant yeast is meant to be mixed directly into dry ingredients, so you can skip Beard's proofing step. With instant yeast, the dough should be kept between 70 and 95 ° F when room temp is called for, as this is the yeast's favorite range for growth.
Prepare 3 groups of flour: (Measuring by volume here is OK, because these are rough measurements.)
- 1 cup of flour. This flour may not be needed.
- Yeast + 2 1/2 cups of flour. Alton uses a food processor to areate and mix the particles; I just shake up the contents in a tightly sealed container.
- Salt + 2 1/2 cups of flour. This can just be roughly mixed together.
Add sugar, butter and milk to stand mixer's bowl. Add flour/yeast mixture on top. Using paddle attachment, mix into a dough.
Cover and rest for about 30 minutes.
Spray a large metal bowl with butter spray. This is the bowl for the second rise. Do this before placing the dough in this bowl so that the alcohol / accelerant in the spray can evaporate.
Switch to the dough hook on stand mixer. Slowly add flour/salt mixture into bowl while kneading. Using stand mixer, knead on low for 5 minutes.
Inspect dough. If too sticky, add a bit more flour from the remaining 1 cup, knead for several seconds and check dough again. Keep doing this until dough is "happy", or until you're out of flour. Knead on low for 5 more minutes. Transfer dough to the buttered bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled (a few hours).
Prepare lightly floured surface, and floured hands by rubbing flour into dry hands. Knead dough by hand to redistribute yeast, about 30 seconds. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. (Spray your baking dishes with butter now, so alcohol can evaporate.)
Roll dough 1/2 inch thick using floured rolling pin. Cut into 2 inch circles and form into rolls. Swirl bottom of rolls on floured surface to seal seam. Arrange rolls into buttered baking dish. You can roll out the dough remains and cut a few once more. After that, you're best off just making one single huge roll, or ditching the remains.
Allow rolls to rise a third and final time. This will take 3 - 4 hours at room temperature. I do the final rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then when it's time to bake, I place the rolls in the oven while preheating, along with another dish full of water below the rolls. This will "wake the rolls up".
Bake at 375° F for 20 - 25 minutes. When done, bottom of rolls will be light brown. Done rolls will sound hollow if you flick them with your finger. Or just open a roll; if any dough inside is not fully baked, bake for a wee bit longer.