I have been consuming mass quantities of bread lately. It all started with Boston Brown Bread in jars, and then I decided to make a yeasted rolls for a dinner party. Unfortunately, I chose a hot, muggy day, and I neglected to take note of the quantities in the recipe before starting. The result?
Most of the year my yeast dough is recalcitrant and lumpen because the temperature is too chilly (the Frugal Husband likes a cool house in winter). I’m used to making bread under such frigid conditions that I have to slip a heating pad under the dough to get it to rise. Not this time. The yeast was high-kicking in the bowl like the cast from A Chorus Line.
Parker House rolls are a very American kind of bread. They were popularized in the nineteenth century by a hotel in Boston, and became the archetypal dinner roll–smooth, slightly sweet, and luscious. They’re enriched with butter and eggs, like a sweet roll dough. I chose Bobby Flay’s recipe. It’s enough to feed an army.
On this hot, humid day, the dough swallowed up an extra cup of flour before it got anywhere near firm enough to form a ball, and still more during the kneading. It was the stickiest dough I’ve ever worked with. Pretty soon my hands, the counter, the bowl and every utensil were covered with dough. But the fun was only just beginning.
In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have tried to roll them up with Romano cheese and herbes de Provence. It was one of those spur of the moment things.
Once I managed to get it rolled up, I had to slice off the individual pieces with a length of dental floss (a word to the wise: avoid the mint flavor). That roll was flopping and flying everywhere. It was like trying to slice a dancing jellyfish.
At this point, the Long Suffering Husband came in and helpfully remarked on how hot it was in the kitchen. With the oven going at full blast. And the high approaching 86F. That’s when I desperately took the other half of the still-expanding dough, stuffed it into an (oiled) Rubbermaid container and confined it in the refrigerator.
The next day was much cooler, and the dough was chastened. Quite well-behaved, in fact. I patted it into shape, spread it with butter, sugar and orange zest, and cut it into tight little rounds which rose in due time.