Last night I baked two loaves, using a simple recipe for basic white bread with honey and milk. It turned out fine but is quite heavy. In fact, "deadly weapon loaf" would not be an out-of-line moniker. Regardless, the bread is quite tasty when toasted and spread with butter and local honey (which is just divine on its own!)
After doing a little 'net research I believe multiple things may have contributed to the heaviness:
First, I probably used too much flour, even though I still used less than the recipe called for. Second, I didn't check the temp of the milk before dissolving the yeast, it was probably too warm. Third, I used my hand mixer to get things going, which probably wasn't a great idea and was *over*mixing. Fourth, I probably didn't knead long enough. Fifth, although the bread seemed to rise ok, it was pretty cool in the kitchen yesterday and I didn't really find a warm place to put it while rising.
If you have any input or suggestions, I'd love to hear them :-)
Anyway, I felt like a fine peasant chef while fussing with it and I love the crusty, rustic look of my little home baked loaves.
It will be fun to experiment further with this bread baking, maybe using different flour and buttermilk next time. I may even make a sourdough starter, although part of me shudders at the prospect of it living and breathing and lurking around my kitchen at night while I'm sleeping....