Never Give Up

We’ve all heard the story about Winston Churchill’s famous speech to the boys of Harrow School, which happened also to be one of his alma maters. Never, never, never give up, he is purported to have said, upon which he sat down, his speech concluded. Guess what? Didn’t happen. At least not that way.

What he DID say at one point in his 20-minutes-or-so speech, was ….this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.

That puts a different slant on what we always thought he said. I think I like my version better.

I have never been a person with a lot of tenacity. I’m very quick to both give up and/or give in. I guess I just never had enough self-confidence to stick to my guns about much. But Churchill would be proud that I continue to tenaciously pursue one goal: making hamburger buns.

Of course, Churchill probably didn’t eat a lot of hamburgers in his life, what with his mouth being full of the ubiquitous cigar. So, in reality, he wouldn’t be particularly proud of my goal, but he would applaud me for never giving up. Or in. Whatever.

I believe I have conquered bread. I believe I make a really good loaf of white bread, thanks to Browneyed Baker. My soft-crusted french bread is very good, if I must say so myself, thanks to The Baker Upstairs. But I have tried maybe a dozen times to make soft and tasty hamburger buns, to no avail. Rather than soft, they are hard as rocks. Rather than tasty, they are flavorless. Frankly, a rock would taste better.

I set out yesterday with a new recipe. This recipe came from Pinterest. Despite an inordinate time they spend on giving me survival tips, they also have figured out two things: I like to bake bread and I like to cook meals designed for two people. Hence, they offered me a recipe for small-batch hamburger buns. Four hamburger buns. Easy-peasy. Soft and delicious.

Chanting nevah, nevah, nevah give up (because I hadn’t yet learned that Churchill didn’t actual say that), I set out to make four hamburger buns. I followed the recipe. I did everything the recipe told me to do. I knew immediately that the dough wasn’t going to rise. It wasn’t soft. It wasn’t smooth. It wasn’t sticky at all. But I optimistically put it in a bowl and covered the bowl. An hour later, I uncovered the bowl and it looked exactly like it looked an hour previously.


But I soldiered on, because I wanted to go against my nature and not give up. I found another small-batch hamburger bun recipe. This recipe used regular yeast instead of rapid-rise yeast. I have decided instant yeast is not my friend, and I can’t really tell you why. All I know is that when I mix warm water with regular yeast and a little sugar, and begin to see the yeast coming to life, I’m happy as the squirrel on my bird feeder.

From the get-go, this recipe worked better. The dough was soft and silky. It dutifully doubled in bulk as it is supposed to do. My buns, at long last, were a success….

Next step is to learn to make the tops smooth and shiny. I will never give up. Or in.

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