When I was a kid, I loved Thanksgiving. It was like a dress rehearsal for Christmas with all the food and family gathering together, just without the presents.
I'll be the first to admit, it wasn't like a Rockwell painting. Like all families we experienced some spilt drinks, broken glasses, temper tantrums (never from me or my brother- we knew better) and an occasional kitchen drama. Well, you cook for that many people and a tea towel is bound to be set on fire at some time.
We had all the traditional Thanksgiving fayre - turkey, stuffing, FOUR kinds of potatoes. You know, the typical menu. But what I liked most were my Granny's Parker House Rolls. She would bake dozens of them for dinner but she always gave me a little paper bag full of rolls just for me to eat. I didn't have to share them with anyone else.. AT ALL! Yes I confess, I am a bread-a-holic!
I live in Britain now so I no longer celebrate Thanksgiving. For some reason, it's not an observed holiday here. I think the Tea Party at Boston must have had something to do with that, but we can still bake some Parker House Rolls. If you have never baked bread before, this is a good place to start. Here is an easy no-knead recipe from the 'Southern Living Cook Book':
1 rounded teaspoon dried yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 large egg - lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter - melted
In a medium sized bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water. Leave it to one side while you prepare the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt.
Cut in the shortening, until the flour mixture looks 'crumbly'. I used Trex, it's the U.K. version of Crisco.
Stir in the yeast mixture and the beaten egg. Mix until the ingredients are just combined. Do Not Over Mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to make the rolls, simply dust the work surface with flour, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into rounds. I used my scone-biscuit cutter. You can even use the rim a drinking glass.
Brush each round of dough with a bit of the melted butter. With the dull edge of a table knife, made a crease across the middle of the round. Fold the dough in half to make a 'half moon' shape. Gently press the round edge of the half moons to seal the dough. Place the rolls into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking tin. The ends of the rolls should be touching.
Cover the pan of rolls and put them in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes or until they have doubled in size. Bake in a preheated oven, 400F/200C for about 14 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.
That's all there is to it. Parker House Rolls have a nifty little pocket to tuck in that little bit of cold turkey you pinched from the fridge. I wonder if that's why they are a traditional Thanksgiving treat?