I'm definitely in a pickle here. I'm trying to make my Grandmother's recipe for parkerhouse rolls and I'm thinking her recipe may be out dated as far as the yeast goes. Can anyone offer any advise or opinions? The recipe calls for 2 packages of yeast and that seems like a lot. Thanks for any help, I appreciate it!!

  • Posted by: TiggyBee
  • December 11, 2010


anyone December 15, 2010
Remember this. You can mess with a recipe all you want but you still have to have the right ingredients. If you want crusty bread then stop using all purpose flour or bread flour and research flour a little and you will find that there are other flours to use that will increase the likelhood of crusty exterior. Yes steaming helps alot but different flours yield different textures.
Gale December 13, 2010
I am so with you TiggyBee - pierino's 'metaphors' are so inventive and amusing. Esp. enjoyed the drone attack on the wedding party - I'm still giggling.

If it is an older recipe, it might be a yeast issue - she might have used either cake or active dry - which work differently (and slower) than instant.
Nora December 12, 2010
If time permits, or later on when you have time, try a small quantity of yeast--1 or 2 teaspoons--and a long rising period. You can even refrigerate the dough overnight. I love the flavor of bread that has been allowed a long rise.

I'm very glad that your grandmother's recipe worked for you! Nothing better than good good with good memories attached.
mrslarkin December 12, 2010
Thanks, hla and TiggyBee for the tips!
TiggyBee December 12, 2010
@pierino. I hope you continue to mix your metaphors. You crack me up!!
TiggyBee December 12, 2010
@mrslarkin - my rolls turned out crusty on the tops and bottoms. I think the trick was basting the tops with butter before they went into the oven I've never had a PHR that wasn't my Grandmother's, so I'm not sure what the standard is there.
hardlikearmour December 12, 2010
mrslarkin, you may want to try this Cook's Illustrated recipe. Their goal was to get a crisp crust, chewy crumb, and look and taste like they came from an artisanal bakery.

Rustic Dinner Rolls

Makes 16 rolls. Published November 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

Because this dough is sticky, keep your hands well floured when handling it. Use a spray bottle to mist the rolls with water. The rolls will keep for up to 2 days at room temperature stored in a zipper-lock bag. To re-crisp the crust, place the rolls in a 450-degree oven 6 to 8 minutes. The rolls will keep frozen for several months wrapped in foil and placed in a large zipper-lock bag. Thaw the rolls at room temperature and re-crisp using the instructions above.

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water (12 1/2 ounces), room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons honey
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour (16 1/2 ounces), plus extra for forming rolls
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (about 1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1. Whisk water, yeast, and honey in bowl of stand mixer until well combined, making sure no honey sticks to bottom of bowl. Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until cohesive dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
2. Remove plastic wrap and evenly sprinkle salt over dough. Knead on low speed (speed 2 on KitchenAid) 5 minutes. (If dough creeps up attachment, stop mixer and scrape down using well-floured hands or greased spatula.) Increase speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute. If dough is very sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour and continue mixing 1 minute. Lightly spray 2-quart bowl with nonstick cooking spray; transfer dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
3. Fold dough over itself; rotate bowl quarter turn and fold again. Rotate bowl again and fold once more. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
4. Transfer dough to floured work surface, sprinkle top with more flour. Using bench scraper, cut dough in half and gently stretch each half into 16-inch cylinders. Divide each cylinder into quarters, then each quarter into 2 pieces (you should have 16 pieces total), and dust top of each piece with more flour. With floured hands, gently pick up each piece and roll in palms to coat with flour, shaking off excess, and place in prepared cake pan. Arrange 8 dough pieces in each cake pan, placing one piece in middle and others around it, with long side of each piece running from center of pan to edge and making sure cut-side faces up. Loosely cover cake pans with plastic wrap and let rolls rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes (dough is ready when it springs back slowly when pressed lightly with finger). Thirty minutes before baking, adjust rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.
5. Remove plastic wrap from cake pans, spray rolls lightly with water, and place in oven. Bake 10 minutes until tops of rolls are brown; remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees; using kitchen towels or oven mitts, invert rolls from both cake pans onto rimmed baking sheet. When rolls are cool enough to handle, turn right-side up, pull apart, and space evenly on baking sheet. Continue to bake until rolls develop deep golden brown crust and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 10 to 15 minutes; rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Transfer rolls to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

betteirene December 11, 2010
Most older recipes call for a lot of yeast (one packet for every 3-3 1/2 cups of flour) for several reasons: Extra yeast gives breads a flavor boost, it boosts the rise of the dough and it speeds the rising time. While packaged yeast was a godsend to the women who were responsible for the family's daily bread, the companies that produced standardized yeast in pre-measured packets did not do any favors for the flavor of bread. My opinion.

It's only fairly recently that bakers have gone back to the days before mass-produced yeast and are now developing recipes calling for as little as 1/2 teaspoon of yeast per batch of dough. For optimum flavor and rise, modern directions often call for a starter dough, "wet" doughs and up to three long, slow, cool rises. If you followed those directions with a recipe that calls for two packets of yeast, your kitchen would end up looking like something out of an episode of "I Love Lucy."
Soozll December 11, 2010
Steam, water misting or wetting the top of the dough should give them a crusty exterior. They only need the steam for about 10 minutes, or until the exterior crust has set. This works best on rolls with minimal fat in them. Won't work on buttered or egg washed exteriors.
pierino December 11, 2010
mrslarkin, "we're needed". John Steed here, and I have black truffle compound butter working in the refrigerator. Hope you have your karate kicks down. Unfortunately I seem to be stuck in a week of Webinar sessions, AND I have to be the Danton of the kitchen commitee for prime rib night. These weenies want to use "choice". That's not prime. So the rolls with truffled butter will be kind of like a drone strike on an Afghan wedding party. They won't see it coming. How many metaphors have I mixed?
mrslarkin December 11, 2010
Pierino, I am on a mission for crusty rolls! My rolls tonight had crusty bottoms, but softer tops. Probably because I kept opening the oven to check the temp - a major no-no.

good luck with your Parker House Rolls, Tiggy!
pierino December 11, 2010
Would I be mistaken in thinking these might be a test run for a certain competition? I would love to figure out how to make those crusty rolls I was served at le Trois Canards in NYC last week...
TiggyBee December 11, 2010
Mrsl, Thanks so much for the link, I appreciate it!! I did go ahead and use two packets and they tasted great. Not sure what they would have been like with less yeast. I guess the lesson is don't tinker if it's proven. I love my food52 friends!!
mrslarkin December 11, 2010
Hi TiggyBee! Looks like the ratio for most PHR that I've seen is roughly 3 cups flour to about 1 packet of yeast. Here's a link to the King Arthur Flour recipe, for example: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/parker-house-rolls-recipe
TiggyBee December 11, 2010
Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate that!! I was so worried! :)
iuzzini December 11, 2010
Seems like many recipes for between 4-6 cups of flour also call for two packages of yeast-- Should be delicious!
iuzzini December 11, 2010
Hi Tiggybee- how much flour?
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