I cannot seem to get homemade bread to work out. I seem to have two issues. One is rising. The dough rises great, then I punch it down and put it into bread pans and nothing happens. I have tried new yeast, bread flour, all purpose flour, putting hot water in the oven so the dough can rise in a humid place, different recipes, etc...
The other issue is that no matter what I do I cannot seem to get the dough to be smooth. I've again tried different recipes, kneading longer, and using my stand mixer to knead.
I'm in the Charlotte area of north carolina. I have been trying for a few months now, so I started in the humidity of fall and am no in the dry of winter.
The bread always tastes great, it's just denser and dryer than it should be. We are still enjoying the homemade bread, but I know it can be better.
Does anyone have any other suggestions?