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Parker House Rolls
From The James Beard Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 package of active dry yeast
2 cups of lukewarm milk, approx. 110F (43C)
2 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of salt
5 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Mix the yeast in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of the warm milk and the sugar, and let stand for a few minutes to "proof" that is, begin to bubble and ferment, which shows the yeast is active. Melt the butter in the remaining milk and add the salt. Combine with the yeast mixture.

Add the flour a cup at a time, and stir it in with a wooden spoon. Continue mixing until the dough is thoroughly blended. If you are using an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook, knead at a moderately slow speed for about 3 or 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

If you are kneading by hand, turn the dough out on a floured board or tabletop, then push your fingers into the dough and press down with the heels of your hands, rolling the dough back and forth as you press. Turn it often a quarter-circle turn at a time and fold it over now and then to be sure the dough is kneaded in all directions and on all sides. Keep pressing in with your fingers and rolling with the heels of your hands until the dough is elastic and satiny in texture. Be sure to use the least amount of flour necessary on the board and on your hands. If you work too much extra flour into the dough as you knead it, the rolls with be tough.

When the dough is smooth and satiny, transfer to a well-buttered bowl, and cover with a towel. Place in a warm spot to rise until double in bulk. This should take about 1 to 2 hours. Deflate the dough by punching it firmly two or three times, turnout on a lightly floured board, and knead for another minute or so.

Roll the dough out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds, spread each round with melted butter and fold over into a half circle. Arrange on baking sheets, cover and let rise for 25 minutes. Brush with butter and bake in a 425F (220C) oven for 15 minutes, or until browned and done.

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