Chef Tom – Parker/Parkour

From the Master himself, the Grand Daddy of the Pillsbury Doughboy himself, James Beard, and one of my top-tiered go-to recipes sites, Serious Eats (includes a secret ingredient for extra fluffiness), comes two ways to make one of THE best bread rolls ever.

We’re all baking now, amirite? Roll up your sleeves, put on some tunes, and pour a glass of good wine. It’s ok to dance around the kitchen. No one’s looking. Except your husband, who knows you’ve gone round the bend, your kids, who are climbing the walls like Spiderman and screaming like Banshee, and your cat, who doesn’t really give a shit.

Parker House Rolls 1

Parker House Rolls 1

By James Beard

“Parker House rolls are as much of a tradition in the United States as any bread. They were created, so the story goes, by the Parker House in Boston, which was one of our great nineteenth-century hostelries. They have been copied by every cookbook author and every baker in the country. Some versions are exceedingly good, and some are absolutely dreadful because they skimp on good ingredients. Parker House rolls should be delicate, soft, and rather sweet, typical of American rolls in the nineteenth century, and they consume butter by the tons. The dough itself need not be shaped into the classic Parker House foldover. Instead, you can cut the rolled-out dough into triangles and from them into crescent shapes, or you can cut the dough into strips and braid them. There are many other ways to treat this dough, which is pliable and pleasant to work with.” –James Beard


2 packages active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup warm water (100ºF to 115ºF, approximately)

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups warm milk

5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup melted butter

1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons light cream or milk


Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the warm water and allow to proof. Melt the 1/2 stick of butter in the warm milk, then combine with the yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl.

Mix 2 to 3 cups of flour with the salt and stir, 1 cup at a time, into the mixture in the bowl, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon to make a soft sponge. (The dough will be wet and sticky.)

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm place, and let the dough rise till doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Stir it down with a wooden spoon and add about 2 more cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a dough that can be kneaded with ease, Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until velvety smooth and very elastic; press with the fingers to see if the dough is resilient. Let rest for a few minutes, then form the dough into a ball. Put into a butter bowl and turn so that the surface is thoroughly covered with butter. cover and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise again until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down with your fist, turn out on a lightly floured board, and let rest for several minutes, until you are able to roll it out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut out rounds of dough with a round 2- and 2 1/2-inch cutter, or with a water glass dipped in flour. (The odd bits of leftover dough can be reworked into a ball, rolled out, and cut.) Brush the center of each round with melted butter. Take a pencil, a chopstick, or any cylinder of similar size and make a deep indentation in the center of the circle, without breaking through the dough. Fold over one-third of each round and press down to seal. Arrange these folded rolls on a buttered baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Brush again with melted butter and allow the rolls to rise until almost doubled in size. They will probably touch each other. Brush them with the egg wash and bake in a preheated 375ºF oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, depending on size. Test one by gently tapping it on the top. If done, you will hear a very faint hollow sound. Or take one, break it open carefully, and see if it is cooked inside.

Remove the rolls to a cooling rack and serve piping hot right from the oven, with plenty of butter and preserves or honey, if desired.


Roll dough on a floured surface into a rectangle 9 x 14 x 1/4 inches. Brush with melted butter and cut into five strips about 9 x 1 1/4 x 1/4 inches each. Stack and cut into 1 1/2-inch stacks. Place stacks, brushed with butter, cut side down, into buttered muffin tins. Follow directions above for rising and baking.


Roll small pieces of dough into 9-inch strips. They should be approximately 1/2 to 2/3-inch in diameter. Tie in loose knots and place on buttered cookie sheets. Let rise and bake according to directions above.

Parker House Rolls 2

Parker House Rolls 2

By DONNA CURRIE (Serious Eats)

“Parker house rolls are typically soft, sweet, buttery, and folded over. Some folks like them nestled together in the pan so they touch each other, while others prefer them kept separated. You can decide that when you bake them.

Instant mashed potato flakes are my secret ingredient for making breads fluffy. When you buy them, look for the ones that are nothing but dried potatoes—no added salt, spices, or preservatives.

I normally use my stand mixer for kneading bread dough, but most can be kneaded by hand. In theory, you could knead this one by hand, but keep in mind the dough is pretty stiff in the beginning and hard to knead, and that incorporating the butter by hand isn’t a whole lot of fun

Then again, these rolls are worth it.” – DONNA CURRIE

Note: The milk should not be hot for this bread—just at that point of warm when you realize it’s not chilled any more. 30 seconds or so in the microwave is just about enough. If it still seems chilly, microwave in short increments, until it feels just warm—not hot.


1 1/4 cups (about 10 ounces) warm milk

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

11 1/4 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) bread flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt


Put the milk, yeast, bread flour, sugar, and potato flakes in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will be quite stiff at this point.

Add the butter and salt and continue kneading until the butter is completely incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn out the dough, pat it down to flatten it. Fold the left side towards the middle, then the top, then the right side, and the bottom to form a rough square.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 9 by 12 inches. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into three 12-inch strips, then cut each strip into 4 equal pieces, so you have 12 squares.

Using a chopstick, the handle of a wooden spoon, or a similar object, press a line onto each square going straight across (not diagonally) so it’s not quite across the center of the square. This will help keep the dough from unfolding when it bakes. Fold the dough over at the crease, with the larger portion folded over the smaller one, like a clam with an overbite.

Arrange the folded dough on the baking sheet, leaving space between them if you don’t want them to touch, or placing them nearly touching if you prefer pull-apart buns. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, half the time it took for the first rise (about 30 minutes).

When the buns have doubled in size, bake at 350°F until the buns are nicely browned, about 25 minutes. Remove the buns from the pan and let them cool on a rack. Serve the same day.

On That Note


Parkour (House Rolls)

I was in the mood for some fast-paced, high blood pressure freerunning, to counteract my SIP (Sedentary In Place) slowed down blood pressure. Enjoy! If you find yourself winded at the end of these vids, reach for a fluffy, hot from the oven, Parker House Roll, slather it with the homemade butter from last week, a blob of good jam, and tamp that fire down.

Stranger-danger, from my armchair to yours.





Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at

One Response to “Chef Tom – Parker/Parkour”


    Good eats and big thrills.

    Thanks, Eric Boardman

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