Retro Recipe: Parker House Rolls

Since it’s a pet peeve of mine, here’s the recipe for Parker House Rolls that I found in a vintage ladies’ pamphlet called “Good Bread: How to Make It”. I’ll get all anecdotal afterward!

Parker House Rolls

  • The Ingredients:
    • 3 cups scalded milk (heated to 180°F/82°C)
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 3 tablespoons white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 8 cups sifted flour (all purpose)
    • 1 cake yeast foam, dissolved in 1/4 cup lukewarm water OR 1 packet of active dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 of lukewarm water
  • The Way of Preparing:
    1. Pour the scalded milk over the salt, sugar, and butter.
    2. Once lukewarm, beat in 4 cups of the flour.
    3. Mix well and add the dissolved Yeast Foam.
    4. Cover closely and let rise in a warm place.
    5. When light enough (doubled in size), add enough more flour to knead, approximately four cups worth.
    6. Cover, let rise until light (second rise).
    7. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.
    8. Shape with a biscuit cutter, brush each shape with melted butter.
    9. Crease through the center, fold over and press the edges together.
    10. Place in a buttered pan, one inch apart and let rise until very light (about twenty minutes to half an hour).
    11. Then bake in a brisk oven (approximately 350°F-400°F/Gas 4-6/Fan160-180) for fifteen minutes.
  • Notes:
    • My oven took about eighteen minutes at 375°F to bake these.
    • I brush them with more melted butter straight from the oven and sprinkle with sea salt or garlic salt.
    • Freeze unbaked rolls for up to a month in an airtight bag and bake from frozen for about two minutes longer than usual.
    • They make great bread pudding fodder when slightly stale.
    • Use GOOD butter. Not margarine.

I swear that I am secretly eighty years old.

More than once, I have been described as such or just anachronistic. I love to crochet and I dream of owning a rocking chair like this one. I want to spin yarn while watching Netflix. I would rather stay in and play Solitare or Rummy than go out to a club most of the time.

My collection of useless dust catchers and mementos has dwindled as I have gotten older, but I once slavishly collected snowglobes. In my very young years, I had a massive collection of porcelain dolls.

I love wandering the dust-clogged aisles of antique shops and resale shop. I live for old bookstores or flea market weekends with J. That lavender and mothball scent twisted together with the ever-present dash of dust and sprinkling of musty vanillin from old books? Man, I would ever burn that candle if they had it. I also, once upon a time, religiously collected antique cookbooks. I now only have four or five of them. And one such is a family relic that I plan to share candy recipes from!

For those that may not know: my Darling Wife and I moved this past weekend to the Vanyar Sanctuary for Cat Hair and Artists, also known as Sanktejo. As comes with moving, you find things. Relics from college, socks you thought you’d lost, a half pound of cat hair under the bed from your cats… All such rediscovered wonders and horrors await the functional box fort that is moving.

I found one of the older recipe pamphlets I had picked up. In all honesty, I think it cost me a literal quarter. Likely in a resale shop somewhere in Illinois thirteen or fourteen years ago from this writing.

Now, I think I have only made the recipe once or twice, but I recall the Parker House Rolls being devilishly delicious when I did make them.

The booklet itself seems more like a recipe book intent on selling Yeast Foam Cakes, as pages sixteen through twenty-eight of the tiny thing all mention the same statement in all caps:

‘THE SECRET IS IN THE YEAST

YEAST FOAM MAKES THE BEST BREAD

The cover, if you cannot read the tiny print that I can barely see when the gorram thing is in front of me, give the source, sponsor, and a quaint little note to all the women of America:

“Recipes furnished by Mrs. Nellie Duling Gans, Principal of the Chicago Cooking College

To America’s Women

whose skill in the art of good bread-making is

unexcelled, this book is dedicated.”

Good Bread: How to Make It

It is quite worn. I had to tape it back together more than once. I plan on sharing the following recipes from this particular booklet: Bread Sticks, Butter Rolls, Rusks, and Shamrocks. There are also several other vintage cookbooks I will be pulling from! They will all be tagged as “Retro Recipes”.

Let me know in the comments below if you have success making these! I’d love to hear about your own baking or antique-going adventures.
And please share any recipes you’d like me to make!

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