I’ve always been super yeast-phobic. Like super. Despite my love of all things bread, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around making my own. Until a few years ago, when I discovered this recipe for no-knead sandwich bread. Now, making this particular bread appealed to me for several reasons: First, it gives you the option of using instant yeast, rather than active (we always used instant at Baked and I prefer it, as you do not have to activate the yeast with a warm liquid prior to incorporating it into your dough, you just add it in along with your dry ingredients). Second, the recipe is insanely easy and simple (i.e., no kneading). And, finally, the recipe is for white bread, not whole wheat, spelt, rye, etc. And I’m sorry, i’m just a lover of white bread from way back. Do I purchase it for my boys from the grocery store or permit them to select the white rolls from the bread basket when we’re out to dinner? Absolutely not. But in a perfect world, would I eat all my sandwiches (and by “sandwich,” I mean a slice of bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with maldon sea salt) on freshly baked white bread? Indeed.So — big surprise — I have been making this bread a lot since discovering it. Like a lot a lot. But as Thanksgiving neared this year, rather than make loaves upon loaves of it (as had been my way), I thought maybe I should shake things up a bit, and try dinner rolls. And, I won’t lie: it was this smitten kitchen post, from around that time, that got me all parker house-obsessed. now, deb’s are pretzel-influenced, and i wasn’t really all about that. but the idea of a parker house roll? a roll that – to me – says fluffy, tender, white bread? (and, yes, i am having a flash-back to the kfc rolls of my childhood) – with that, i was completely on board. aggressive roll-research began immediately and in earnest (in light of the fact that i hadn’t really a clue as to what particular ingredients contributed to the perfect, fluffy white dinner roll (aka the parker house)).
A post/recipe on the King Arthur baking blog was indispensable in getting me started, as it not only gave me some nice background on the origins of the parker house roll and how to shape them to look like the original (FYI, mine are not shaped “traditionally,” as it were, but please read the King Arthur post if you would like yours to be shaped as such). Most importantly, it introduced me to the idea of incorporating potato flour/mashed potato flakes into the dough. The addition of potato softens and tenderizes the dough (I learned that from the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice), and because I had a hefty amount of potato starch in my cupboard (left over from the recipe development/testing of my flourless chocolate cake, I decided that my recipe for parker house rolls would substitute the starch for the flour or flakes. I checked out Bon Appetit’s take on the parker house roll, as well as the Kitchn’s roll recipe, to see if others were on board with the potato addition, but it was only this dinner roll recipe (and this Thanksgiving roll recipe) that I saw it included. And that was enough for me.
The question of what kind of flour I’d use (all-purpose or bread) was influenced by The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and Handle The Heat (I went with a mixture of all-purpose and bread); the question of fat (butter, shortening or oil) was decided by the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, again, as he explained that butter adds more flavor, but shortening the “softest texture” (I went with a combo in an effort to get the best of both worlds). And, finally, the question of liquid. I was completely on board with using whole milk, until i read the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice take — yes, he came through kind of a lot with this recipe — and decided on buttermilk. With the recipe under control, I took a last quick peek at Martha Stewart’s parker house rolls, just to see if there was anything left to glean, and discovered the trick to super glossy, nicely browned, uber-buttery, and slightly salty rolls: Not only a brushing of melted butter pre-baking, but one post-baking as well, and a sprinkle of sea salt before serving. And there you have it, a recipe for fluffy, tender, white dinner rolls; buttery and salty to boot, easy to make even for the yeast-phobic amongst us, and, oh, so yummy.
Buttermilk Parker House Rolls
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup bread flour
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tbsp shortening
- 1 cup buttermilk or more as needed, room temp or warmed slightly in the microwave or on the stove top (just to take the chill off)
- 1 large egg room temperature
For coating the rolls pre and post baking
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- Maldon sea salt for sprinkling post-baking
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours, yeast, sugar, salt, and starch, and mix until incorporated. On medium-low speed, add the butter, shortening, buttermilk, and egg, and continue to beat until a shaggy dough forms.
- Remove the paddle, replace with the dough hook attachment, and on medium-high speed, continue to beat the dough until a smooth mass forms that comes off the sides of the bowl and sticks only a bit to the bottom, about 7 to 9 minutes. If your dough is not sticking at all to the sides or bottom when you begin kneading it with the dough hook, add more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is wet enough to stick a bit. If it sticks too much, add a bit of flour.
- Turn the dough out into a medium bowl that has been greased with oil or sprayed. Turn the dough ball over in the bowl to coat it in oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it has practically doubled in size.
- Once the dough has doubled, spray the counter and turn the dough out on to the sprayed surface. Knead the dough once or twice and shape it into an 8" by 12" rectangle. Using a dough scraper, or sharp knife, make 4 cuts down the long side and 4 cuts down the short side of the rectangle, resulting in 16 pieces of dough.
- Spray a 13" by 9" by 2" pan with cooking spray and set aside (a pyrex works nicely, as you can see the bottom of the rolls to confirm they are brown before pulling them from the oven). Take each piece of dough and gently form it into a ball, by folding the edges of the dough piece underneath itself, so that the top of the ball is smooth (the bottom will be a bit wrinkly, which is fine).
- Place the balls in the prepared pan, making an effort to cover the entire bottom of the pan with the dough. Once all of the balls are in the pan, gently press down on them so they are all touching. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap, and set aside for about an hour, until the balls rise to about 1 1/2 times their size.
- Once they have risen, brush melted butter on them and place in the oven until the rolls are nicely browned, both on the top and bottom, about 20 to 25 minutes, checking the rolls at about 18 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs. Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately brush with additional melted butter and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Remove the rolls from the pan to cool a bit. When still warm, separate the rolls from each other, slather with butter, and enjoy. Rolls are best fresh, but can be kept in plastic wrap on the counter.