Jesuit Parker House Rolls

My mom gave me this wonderful book as a gift when I decided to go to college at a Jesuit university. For those of your who are in the dark here, Jesuits are a group of Catholic priests who are known for their involvement in missionary work and education. But little did I know that they were also excellent bread-makers!

The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking is a charming book of recipes collected by Br. Rick Curry, S.J. He traveled around the world collecting bread recipes from other Jesuit bakers. Here is one of the recipes that I’ve tried from this book. These rolls are heavenly – ever so slightly sweet, light and airy as a cloud, buttery and tender. Everything a homemade dinner roll should be!

Jesuit Parker House Rolls

2 3/4 – 3 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup warm water
1 egg, at room temperature
Cornmeal
1/4 cup of butter, melted

Combine 1/4 cup of the flour, the sugar, the salt, and the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Cut the softened butter into tabs, dropping each into the mixing bowl. Blend for 30 seconds, until crumbly. Gradually add the warm water to the mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Mixture will be a bit clumpy. Add the egg. Beat for 10 minutes, very gradually adding flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-12 minutes. Add flour as necessary to avoid stickiness. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place bread dough in the bowl, turning it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until it is doubled in size. This should take about one hour.

 

Next, grease a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal. Turn the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Roll out each half until it is 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into rounds. use the dull edge of a knife to create a line across each round, a little off center.

Dip a pastry brush in the melted butter and brush each round within 1/4 inch of the edge. Pull the larger side over the smaller side so the edges just meet. Pinch to seal.

Place on baking sheet so that rolls are almost touching. Cover with a tea towel and allow the rolls to rise for another hour – until doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Yield 2-3 dozen rolls.

Check out this photo – my dog Sophie was EXTREMELY interested in the heavenly-smelling goodies that I was photographing on the kitchen table!

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