Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The Quest for the Perfect Roll

In 1980, during the Christmas season, my mom and I made delicious three-hour rolls from the Braille cookbook “A Leaf from our Table.” But until 1991, my attempts at making those rolls on my own were met with constant failure.

In 1991, early in my marriage, I was motivated to try making the rolls again. My first try was woefully unsuccessful, yielding flat rolls that could only be used to feed the birds in our yard. Around New Year’s, I tried the different recipe for “brown and serve” rolls which, much to my delight, came out great and were a hit with everyone. I thought I was finally getting the hang of it.

On a rainy afternoon in June 1992, I wished to try a new recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. It was for Parker House rolls, a perfect accompaniment for soup or chowder on that cool Monday evening. As I listened, the steps seemed easy and I spent the afternoon discovering this new and delightful recipe. We enjoyed buttery hot rolls for supper and at breakfast the next morning. The recipe became a favorite and was requested year round, especially during the holidays. I began to call them fool-proof, as every batch was a great success. My battle against the roll had finally come to an end.

Here is the recipe for those Parker House rolls. I have made some changes through the years–adding more shortening and sugar while decreasing salt content.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
One half cup solid Crisco
One third to one half cup sugar
One half cup very warm water
Two packages active dry yeast
Two large eggs one teaspoon salt
Seven to eight cups all purpose flour

Directions:

Scald milk in glass two-cup measuring cup on high for two minutes in microwave. Pour milk in to large mixing bowl, adding Crisco and sugar, stirring until shortening is partially melted.

In another bowl, pour warm water, adding packages of yeast. Let dissolve (this should take about five minutes).

Put yeast mixture, eggs, salt, and one cup of flour into mixing bowl. Stir for a minute then add two cups of flour, then stir for one minute. Then add two cups of flour. Stir, and add two cups of flour. This makes a manageable dough.

Add another cup flour, stir for a minute, and pour out onto a pastry board or tray. If necessary, add extra flour.

Knead the dough for one minute. Let dough rest for ten minutes, then knead for another five to six minutes. Dough will be smooth and elastic, springing back when handled.

Grease the inside of the large bowl with butter and put dough in, covering it completely with plastic wrap. Put bowl on lowest rack in oven. One trick is you can try turning the oven on at two hundred for five minutes before putting bowl in the oven. Turn oven off before putting bowl in oven.

After one hour and fifteen minutes, check if the dough pushes on the plastic wrap. Take it to the counter and punch it down.

Melt three-fourths stick butter in small bowl in microwave.

Put half the dough on a floured clean board or tray.

Pat or roll it out. Cut it with a biscuit cutter shaping rolls into rounds, or rolling each piece in to a cylindrical shape dabbing it with butter. Place rolls on ungreased jelly roll pan.

When dough is gone you will have 64 to 70 rolls. Pour extra butter on the rolls.

Cover baking pan with foil and put it in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 and bake rolls for 18 minutes. Serve them hot with chowder or soup.

If you need to store extra rolls, you can either refrigerate or freeze them in ziplock bags.

Enjoy!

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