I don’t love the magazine Food & Wine. I signed up for a subscription by cashing in some airline miles due to expire. At the time, I was willing to try six months of content at no cost.
The food in the magazine looks great. It’s exquisitely staged and photographed on glossy magazine paper. The colors pop while the copy rolls along. But there’s just something about the magazine that I don’t love. Between the advertisements for exotic cruises and high-priced jewelry, the magazine gives the impression that none of its subscribers actually cook the recipes – that the subscribers have people for that kind of stuff. Food & Wine’s recipes look great to try – but they also look like, at least most of the time, that the recipes are tried only after they are cooked by the wait staff.
In my mind, the average Food & Wine subscriber is not the apron-wearing, oil-splashed, cooking type, bent over a small stove, furiously whisking a roux or sautéing a filet. Instead, they seem like the ornately-coiffed, condo-owning devotee, awaiting the doorman’s delivery or the in-home chef’s call to table. And as someone who likes to cook — and who cooks in gym shorts and a t-shirt — the ethos of the magazine grates on me.
Nonetheless, I dutifully flip through the magazine’s offerings each month. In the October issue, I discovered a great find – a true nod to getting-your-hands-dirty, making-a-mess, Americana cooking. None of this sous-vide, micro-greens, or coulis nonsense. Just cooking. Or baking in this case.
Despite all my grumblings, this recipe for Parker House Rolls was fantastic. It was easy, it required only one resting period for the dough, and made enough rolls to last through two parties. It was a find! A delicious find.
Parker House Rolls
Active time: 35 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Yield: Between 40 and 60 rolls.
Adapted from Food & Wine October 2014.
WHAT TO GRAB: 1/4 ounce package of dry yeast 1/4 cup of warm water 1/2 cup of sugar 1/2 cup of unsalted butter 2 cups 1% milk at room temperature Two large eggs, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon kosher salt 7 1/2 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping Sea salt for sprinkling.
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Proof the yeast. In a small bowl (or the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook), stir together 1/2 cup warm water (105-115° F), the yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the mixture doesn’t foam, you’ll have to discard it and start over with new yeast).
2. Once the yeast has become foamy beat in the remaining sugar, half a cup of melted butter, the milk, eggs and kosher salt. At low speed, stir in the 7 1/2 cups of flour until the dough comes together. Add more flour by the tablespoon if necessary. Mix at medium speed until the dough forms a loose ball around the hook about three minutes.
3. Turn the ball onto a lightly floured working space. Knead gently for about four or five minutes until until the ball is fully coated with the flower. Lightly brush a large bowl with olive oil and move the dough ball around so that the dough is lightly coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until doubled in bulk about 90 minutes.
Form the Rolls
4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scrape half the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a 8 by 14″ rectangle. Using a floured scraper, cut the dough lengthwise in half, then cut each strip crosswise into about 12 small strips or about three quarters of an inch in thickness. Working with one piece, Roll the dough up so that the top half slightly overlaps the bottom half. Tuck the overhang under and place the role seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough forming two rows of of 10 to 12 rolls on each baking sheet. Each role should just touch its neighbors but leave about 4 inches between the rows. Repeat with the other half of dough.
Bake the Rolls
5. Preheat the oven to 375. Bake the rolls for about 18 minutes, until browned. Midway through the baking time, rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Once out of the oven, immediately brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer the rolls to a rack and let the rolls cool for about 15 minutes before serving. To reheat, toast in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes.
Make ahead. The fully formed unbaked rolls can be frozen for up to one month. Bake from frozen.