Gourmandistan

Pursuing perfect Parker House rolls

rolls

These days Steve can bang out a perfect pâte brisée without looking at a recipe. He’s also now pretty good at pizza dough, as well as pasta and no-knead bread. But Michelle found Steve a new challenge in the November issue of Saveur magazine—buttery, puffy Parker House rolls. Steve took the Tom Colicchio article out of Michelle’s hands and, on his first try, made a passable imitation of a dinner roll. However, they were judged to be a little underdone (Colicchio’s recipe called for a 325° oven) and missed barley malt syrup (a signature ingredient). Steve found the syrup at Whole Foods, and tried again at a higher temperature, but the rolls turned out heavy and chunky. A third attempt was similarly disappointing—but Steve started to think the dough was too dry, and (because Steve is a cheap bastard who won’t turn up the heat) too cold. The fourth try found Steve swaddling a smooth, golden-hued dough in his lap as he sat as his computer, after adding additional milk to Colicchio’s mix. Allowing the dough extra time to rise in the winter-cool house, then baking at a higher temperature once Michelle returned through the ice-clogged creek, Gourmandistan finally enjoyed hot, fluffy and buttery dinner rolls. And while Michelle fears for our calorie and carb counts, Steve will probably make them again—just to be sure he finally has the dough right.

PARKER HOUSE ROLLS

(adapted from “Colicchio & Sons’ Parker House Rolls”) (makes 14 rolls)

1 cup milk, heated to 115°
1 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. barley malt syrup (or dark corn syrup or molasses)
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 ½ tsp unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes, softened
¼ cup melted butter
Fleur de sel for garnish

Stir together the milk, yeast and malt syrup in a bowl, let sit until foamy (about 10 minutes, longer if cold). Stir flour and salt together in bowl of an electric mixer and add the butter chunks. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms. Knead with mixer’s dough hook until glossy and smooth (about 3-4 minutes). Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until nearly doubled in size (about 1 hour).  Punch down dough, cover again and let sit until puffed (about 45 minutes).

Divide the puffed dough into 14 pieces, about 1 ½” in diameter/1 ¼ oz. each. Place the dough balls side by side into a greased 8” cast-iron skillet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size (about 2 hours).

While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 375°. Once the dough balls have risen, brush them with melted butter and bake on a center rack until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.  If not browned enough, run under the broiler for a short time, watching carefully.  Brush with more melted butter, sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve warm.

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