Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Parker House Rolls - What Happened?

When we first got an iPad the most interesting app we downloaded was my subscription for Everyday Food iPad version. This magazine is seriously fantastic on the iPad. It does everything it does well in magazine form plus interactive features and videos! My only complaint is that you can't dog-ear or bookmark the pages to remember it for later.

All the way back in the Thanksgiving issue, Joey and I watched a video for Parker House Rolls. The video and the pictures pretty much put them on a pedestal of best looking dinner rolls you have ever had.  We were immediately disappointed we had offered to bring dessert instead of dinner rolls.  We put the recipe on the back burner to remember for later.

Later came, and at a weird too late hour to really be ready by dinner, we decided to make the Parker House rolls. Only issue? We didn't have any milk and weren't confident in the active-ness of our yeast. I rushed to the store and we started the process realizing that with this sidestep we may be having dinner after 8:30pm.

We followed the directions and got to the part of "using a dough hook mix bread for 10 minutes until in a ball." It took us maybe 2 minutes and that's a stretch to reach the ball stage and already by then the dough hook was determined to launch the dough across the kitchen.

We set the wet-towel covered bowl upstairs in the guest room to be in the warmest place and draft free (lucky guests!) to rise for the first hour.  After the first hour it seemed to have risen and we moved on to the roll stage and second rise.  After the second rise the rolls seemed slightly bigger so we baked 8 of them and threw the rest of the dough into the freezer for another day.

We baked our rolls starving as we waited for the pork tenderloin to finish cooking and dinner to be ready.  The result was a very dense roll much like a biscuit but more bready.  It was not a horrible thing.  All the rolls we baked were eaten but they weren't the fluffy examples we'd poured over from the video we'd been watching since November.  We decided that we could fix the bread with what we had left in the freezer on another occasion.

That other occasion came on the weekend.  We took the bread from the freezer and let it "rise" in the bag overnight while we let it defrost.  We then threw it in a bowl with a wet towel and gave it all day to do it's thing.  It didn't.

Then we turned to Google and I discussed our problem with my baking friends and we decided that what most likely happened was that the "room temperature milk" needed to activate the yeast was too cold.  The internet said that we could indeed fix our mistake by mixing 1t yeast + 1/4t sugar + 1/4 C warm water.  We let the yeast mixture sit ten minutes until it foamed and bubbled (the yeast is fine!) and then kneaded as much of it as we could into the slightly drier dough.  Then we set the dough in a bowl with a damp cloth over it and left it overnight.

The next morning we were both absolutely thrilled to see that the bread dough had risen!  Our problem was fixed!  Unfortunately, it was early morning and we had no time to bake bread.  We stuck the bowl covered in plastic wrap in the fridge and hoped for the best.

This evening I finally was able to make it. I pulled the dough out and did a little bit of kneading and then cut it into large chunks trying to make the equivelent of hamburger bun sized rolls.  We plan to have them with pulled pork when they come out of the oven...they smell fantastic although they didn't so much stick together in roll-shaped circles.  And the verdict?

The rolls were good but still not right.  They weren't fluffy inside and out, they had a bit of a crust on the outside and were still a little dense but rather fluffy inside too just not as light as a dinner roll. The rolls were actually perfect for pulled pork sandwiches! They are not perfect for Thanksgiving dinner though.

Next step - Make a new bread recipe because it sure does make the house smell delicious at the very least!

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