Cooking with My Grandma: Parker House Rolls

IMG_0446So, today is the day I’m starting my “new” hobby.  I’m going to cook through what I’m going to call “heritage recipes”…recipes that I have from great grandmother, grandmother and great aunt that our family still has access to via handwritten slips of paper, recipe cards and well-worn recipe books.  I will probably do this on Monday mornings or Wednesday afternoons as those are blocks of time for me to do things at home.  (Yep, I do my schedule in project blocks of … but that’s a whole different post.)

Strictly based on what I had available at the house and the fact that I had this recipe in a handwritten format (see below), I chose to do my grandmother’s Parker House Rolls first. Plus, I’m usually pretty good at bread baking so I thought I would start on something that I had a good chance of success with.

I started by pulling all the ingredients out onto the kitchen island along with my grandmother’s bread bowl (picture #1) and my measuring cups and spoons.

I tried to keep track of what I was doing and the results by taking pictures of the process.  Now, I know there are expert bloggers out there who take amazing pictures with their phones and cameras and know just what to do to make everything look perfect.  However, I have to be real with you.  I have NO IDEA how to do that sort of thing, nor do I think I want to invest the time in that at this point…so, I’m going to just be “real” with you.  Hopefully, you can handle that! : )

After all my ingredients and materials were assembled, I read through my grandmother’s recipe once again and just started from the top by combining luke warm water, yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large glass measuring cup.  Now, here was my first hiccup.  She said 2 1/2 packages of yeast.  I buy my yeast in a big jar but have learned over the years that a package of yeast (at least the ones these days) have about 2 1/2 tsp of yeast in them…so that’s what I used as a guide.  After combining those ingredients, I set them aside until they were bubbly…about 10 minutes.  (picture #2)

Then, I combined the remaining dry ingredients (except flour) in my grandmother’s bread bowl (picture #3) and measured out 8 tbls. of shortening in a bowl and put it in the microwave for 1 minute to melt.  (picture #4)  If you notice on her recipe, she said that she used “fryings” instead of shortening.  I wonder if this was like bacon grease or something?

I then poured the milk and put it in the microwave for a minute to make it “lukewarm” ….(what is lukewarm anyway?)

Once the yeast mixture was bubbly, I poured it along with the milk and melted shortening into the bowl and stirred to combine. (picture #5)

Then, I was back to reading her recipe.  It said add flour until the dough was easy to handle.  Fortunately, since I’ve baked bread before, I understood what that meant.   I started with adding two cups (picture #6), then four cups (picture #7) and then six cups (picture #8).  The consistency still wasn’t right and it wasn’t until I had pretty much emptied my flour container and added a total of 9 cups of flour, that the consistency was ready for me to mix with my hands.

Notice the recipe doesn’t say to knead….hmmmm!

So, I needed just until it was easy to handle and to form into a ball (picture #9) so that it could rise beneath a towel in the breadbowl for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, punch it down and let it rise again for 35 minutes.

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After that, the recipe stops.  Doesn’t say the temp to cook the rolls at, the size of the rolls, whether I should roll them out, roll them up or what.  I bet everyone around my grandmother would have automatically known what to do.  So, I did what I thought was right…and grabbed a fistful of dough, flattened it between my hands into a rectangle and then folded it in half and put it on a pizza stone that I sometimes use for baking bread.  I’m sure you could use a regular baking sheet, but I like to use a stone for bread because of the texture it seems to produce.

I filled up two pizza stones with the rolls,


covered them with a towel and let them rise again until about double.

Once they were double in size, I brushed them with a little butter, and put them in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  THe recipe made 3 1/2 dozen good sized rolls.


So…I did it!

I spent about two hours on a hobby!…and one that feels like a project with meaning.

I’m going to try something new on Wednesday I think…but first, a trip to the grocery store is going to be necessary.

Faith and Courage,



3 thoughts on “Cooking with My Grandma: Parker House Rolls

  1. I am sorry that I cannot get Java Script on here. It has a download for a PC, but it did not work. When I clicked to make a comment, it went to a blank screen that said it was not there.

    I love this idea!!!!



    Joyce Roberts Lott Translator and Writer “Do the Word” Joyfully home on the prairie!

  2. I love this — the writing and the photos!!! What a great hobby!!!!

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