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Thanksgiving & Parker House Rolls

I'm happy to report (a week later than planned) that Thanksgiving was a success.  The turkey that was still quite frozen (and induced a panic) on Thursday morning... but everything turned out just fine.  With 90 extra minutes in the oven, all was well.  We went on a family mountain bike ride before indulging in a delicious and hearty meal and shared dessert with family and dear friends in Golden.  There was a 45-minute period after the bike ride and before the turkey was ready when everyone was lurking in the kitchen and picking at all of the other food because they were seriously hungry... but all ended well!

The day was full of indulgences.  My Dad made his famous Apple-Cranberry Pie (it is a masterpiece... he is enviously meticulous about his baking), my Mom brought delicious roasted root vegetables, many of which she and my Dad grew this summer, and I made stuffing that I hope is becoming a tradition (it is a version of an apple sausage stuffing I read about here).  My Mom spruced up my pathetic table setting with berries from the backyard and we enjoyed a quiet but lovely meal.

A highlight from the meal was the rolls.  I'd been wanting to try these rolls for weeks, but didn't get around to it until Thanksgiving morning.  The rolls didn't disappoint, despite me baking them on a lower-than-desirable rack in the oven and slightly burning the bottoms.  Those human imperfections are what separate "real" Thanksgiving from Thanksgiving in the movies, right? 

A note about the rolls.  Perhaps it is just me, but I found the 4th step below a bit confusing.  When the recipe says to "place [the dough] flat in 1 corner of dish, folded edge against short side of dish."  What, exactly, is the "short side of the dish?"  If you can't tell form the photo above,  decided that this meant I'd place the rolls in like shingles on a roof.  I'm not sure that is what was intended, but I went for it.  Either way, I don't think it changes how the rolls taste!

Parker House Rolls
Recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book via Bon Appétit 

1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
warm water
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt + salt for sprinkling 
1 room-temperature egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter 


  • Whisk 1 envelope active dry yeast and 1/4 cup warm water (110°-115°) in a small bowl; let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Heat 1 cup whole milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just warm. Combine 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl. Add warm milk; whisk to blend, breaking up shortening into small clumps (it may not melt completely). Whisk in yeast mixture and 1 room-temperature large egg. Add 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Knead dough with lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface until smooth, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter in a small sauce-pan. Lightly brush a 13x9-inch baking dish with some melted butter. Punch down dough; divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 12x6-inch rectangle.
  • Cut lengthwise into three 2-inch-wide strips; cut each crosswise into three 4x2-inch rectangles. Brush half of each (about 2x2-inch) with melted butter; fold unbuttered side over, allowing 1/4-inch overhang. Place flat in 1 corner of dish, folded edge against short side of dish. Add remaining rolls, shingling to form 1 long row. Repeat with remaining dough for 4 rows. Brush with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic, and chill for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Bake rolls until golden and puffed, 25-35 minutes. Brush with butter; sprinkle flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) over. Serve warm.
  • Family Bike Gang!

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    Reader Comments (3)

    Darcy your Thanksgiving sounds so lovely. I'm happy to hear that the Turkey didn't cause too much panic. Sounds like it just wanted everyone to get nice and hungry before indulging. I am so envious of your 300 days of sunshine. It has been grey here for what feels like MONTHS and I would do almost anything for a crisp sunny day. And these rolls! They are absolutely beautiful. I love that you baked them in a baking dish. I might just have to make these for my next dinner party. Filing under Darcy's Rolls ;)

    December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertalley

    I have been dying to make these rolls, too, since seeing them in Bon Appetit and elsewhere...maybe an old Cook's Illustrated? Your Thanksgiving looks beautiful! Your mother has quite the decorator's eye!

    December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterali

    Ladies, thanks for your comments. You two are the best! I think the rolls are all over the internet, and possibly they are better explained on another site. They are delicious and easy to make (although Ali, they aren't as easy as your bread). Talley, the sunshine is nice. We are spending Christmas in Boston and I am sure it will remind me to appreciate the sunny days here. Sometimes I take then for granted. Ali, my Mom is great at decorating. It is fantastic to have her give me advice, particularly with the house.

    December 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterDarcy Eden

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