Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Parker House Rolls

Easter is next month.
That sounds like it’s soooo far away.
But, to be honest, it’ll be here in a matter of just a few days.
It’s time to start planning the big meal.

Folks who own restaurants are smart.
They put a basket of bread on the table so you’ll kill your appetite and won’t want more of the expensive stuff.
Ma wasn’t the only mother to catch onto this little trick.
You can, and should, do the same.
Roasts aren’t cheap.

Welsh cakes and boxties are fine for a brunch.
Monkey bread is great for when the gang is over.
But, to be honest, it’s not for an Easter dinner.
Really, when everyone is in their C & E Sunday best, they don’t want to go all caveman over a hunk of bread.
Easter calls for individual rolls in a linen-lined basket.

Parker house rolls have a rich buttery taste and a sweet soft dough. 
They’re easy to make, yet they look like you went to a whole lot of trouble.
But, to be honest, you didn’t.
You could make them while you’re watching a favourite sit-com.

Variation:
After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and divide into 2 equal pieces.
Roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface into a 12×6-inch rectangle.
Cut lengthwise into three 2-inch-wide strips.
Cut each crosswise into three 4×2-inch rectangles.
Brush each piece with melted butter and fold into a “W” shape.
Place the folded dough into one muffin tin space.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Lightly brush the tops with melted butter.
Loosely cover with rolls with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours.


Hints:

The dough works better if you let the muffin tin filled with the buttery balls rest about 6 hours in the fridge before baking.
You can substitute an equal amount of dark brown sugar for a richer molasses flavour. 

If you want to prepare the buns in advance you can pack them (after baking and cooling them) in a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 2 months. 
So, you could make them now and they’d be perfect for Easter.
If you make them now, make a few batches so there’ll be plenty for everybody.

To serve them, remove them the night before and leave them on the counter. 
Then before dinner just reheat them in a 325° F oven for 3 minutes.

You can also do this if you have a few buns leftover.

                        Parker House Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Place in a large bowl
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 Cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Place in a small bowl
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
Whisk them together and let stand for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes it should be foamy.
If it’s not, your yeast might be too old.

While the yeast is standing, place in a small pot
1 Cup milk
Heat the milk over medium heat until just warm.

Add the warm milk to the butter / sugar mixture and stir well to blend.
Stir in 
the yeast mixture  
1 large egg
Add gradually
3 1/2 Cups flour
Stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the surfaces with oil.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap. 
Let stand at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Melt in a small sauce-pan
1/4 cup butter
Lightly brush the insides of a 12 count muffin tin with the melted butter.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 4 pieces.
On a lightly floured surface roll a piece with your hands into a 9 inch rope.
Cut the rope into 9 pieces and quickly roll the pieces into balls.
Dip the balls into the melted butter and place 3 balls in each of 3 muffin tin spaces.
Lightly brush the top with melted butter.
Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces.
(By the end of this, you’ll have made 36 balls, and placed 3 in each of the 12 muffin spaces.)

Loosely cover the rolls with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours. 
Or you can leave the covered buns on the counter for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F 
Bake the rolls until golden, 25-35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and brush with extra butter.
Place in a linen-lined basket.

Serve warm with butter.

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