Parker House Rolls | Recipe and History
Parker House Rolls are one of New England’s many trademark culinary offerings, and one that is perfect for this time of year, when the weather turns cool and we start thinking about comfort food and holiday dinners. Whether you are serving roasted turkey, hearty soup, or spaghetti with marinara, there should always be an accompanying basket of warm, buttery rolls to bite into and help clean your plate.
Parker House Rolls are a homerun. A crisp, buttery exterior makes way for a soft, tender crumb that steams when broken apart. In addition to their dinner table pedigree, they are equally delicious slathered with butter and jam at the breakfast table. This was how I enjoyed them on a recent morning.
The rolls are named after the Boston hotel where they originated during the 1870’s. Legend has it that a disgruntled hotel baker threw a batch of unfinished rolls into the oven after an altercation with a hotel guest. When the rolls emerged from the oven, they had a distinct folded “pocketbook” shape that made them light and puffy on the inside, while staying crisp and buttery on the outside.
The oldest printed Parker House Rolls recipe on file is from an April 1874 issue of the New Hampshire Sentinel, and they have been a favorite in homes and restaurants ever since.
Make a large batch this fall for a family dinner, or freeze the rolls for a warm, toasted, buttery addition to any meal, at any time.
*I had to use nearly 4 cups of flour at this point to get my dough to look and feel the way it was supposed to. It should be lightly tacky, but not sticky. If there is a lot of humidity in your kitchen, you may encounter a similar issue. Trust your instincts! After the first rise the dough was lovely, glossy, and soft. The extra flour did increase my total yield to more like 40 rolls rather than the original 24 the recipe intended. Good thing I love rolls!