The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

parker house rolls

freerk's picture

parker house rolls

Dear TFL-ers,

Time for another American Classic

Dainty and small, buttery and fluffy on the inside, with a nice crisp crust. They must have been all the craze back in the days they were created: Parker House Rolls. Coming from the same place as the Boston Cream Pie, created around the 1870-s, allegedly by a baker who threw a fit and clenched the dough he held in his hand before throwing it back on the counter. By happy accident the rolls, folded over themselves, bloomed into  little delicate rolls during proofing. Whether this story has any truth to it....

The Parker House roll has evolved since then. When googling some of the images, you see a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The BreadLab likes to proof them with the "backbone" of the roll on the sheet pan, going up instead of sideways, pinching the dough ever so lightly together to create that nice "blooming effect"during the final proof, almost like you would do with dumplings. Make sure not to pinch them too tight, or they won't get "undone" during final proofing!

Parker House in Boston (click the picture, to go to the video!)

More than on their own accord, these rolls were made world famous by Fannie Farmer. A great name to begin with (once heard, never forgotten), and a perfect name when you're in the food business, or so it seems. Her cookbook "The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook" triumphed as soon as it hit the market. The rest is history: by now about 4 million copies have been sold. Good for Fannie, because the publisher at the time didn't want to take the chance and made her pay for the printed copies, so she kept all the rights to her self! Go Fannie!

The original online! (click pic to go to the video)

The original publication is  online as part of The Historic American Cookbook Project and makes great reading for bake crazy people, but knowing you TFL-ers, you probably have a pdf copy on your hard drives already! If you don't; download it for free, it really makes good reading, and is a great source of inspiration. Whenever I feel like "an American classic", I turn to Fannie (okay, and sometimes Julia as well, but I think that is more because I just can't resist her voice).

There are some videos out there that show how to make Parker House Rolls. The BreadLab takes on the challenge of getting more views than Martha Stewart though, so if you would please give me a helping hand ;-) Looking for the link? Click either of the two pictures in this post and you will be taken there!

Happy Baking!


P.S. If you are on Facebook, check out my "BreadLab" page. If you "like" it, hit the like-button and help me get my bread-project funded. One second of your time, and a big difference for me :-)



update: it seems it can be done:

here here! wanna see the vid: click te play button :-))) thanx Floyd!

HeidiH's picture

One of the first cooksbooks I owned was a facsimile edition of Fannie Farmer.  Her set of gingerbread recipes are wonderful.  All my young "dinner parties" ended with gingerbread, applesauce and whipped cream.

freerk's picture

Hey heidi!

It sure is a wonderful book! I haven't tried the gingerbread recipes yet, but ginger season is around the corner, so I think before this year is over I will have covered them all!

EvaB's picture

my grandmother apparently made lots of these in a hotel resteraunt in Calgary Alberta, in the early 1900's before marrying my grandfather. My mother told of eating them on special occasions as a child, but I never had the pleasure of tasting on of her.

freerk's picture

I've only discovered them some time ago and they are my favorite dinner rolls: easy to break, the right size to go with a meal, and I just love the buttery crust. There you go, even 111 years later.... Wow