Kathleen, I have always had trouble making bread...the yeast never seems to rise for me (a good title for a book - to be written in the dark days of winter I think). Can you give me any tips? And btw, the dark days, in the Old Religion, are meant to be just that, the days that we go inward and reflect, rethink, and so on. So you are right on the money...now we are heading into the days of light according to the Old Times, which begins on Feb. 2 or thereabouts...so begin by burning candles in the evening, and inviting light into your home, hearth, and heart in any and all ways and it will come, as it does always. We live in Eastern Upstate NY, in the Taconic Mt. range... Nice to meet you neighbor. Blessings...
Morrigan, I make all of our bread - Stan is allergic to corn which is in just about every bakery baked good. Lately I've been using honey instead of sugar in my bread and rolls and the yeast seems to be 'working' better. I use Fleishman's dry yeast and King Arthur flour, Robin Hood flour is good, too. One thing I've learned over the years is that better flour makes better bread. If your house is on the cool side, put a pie plate of water on the bottom rack in your oven and put the bread in the bowl over it. I usually warm the oven up to its lowest setting and then turn it off. This works pretty well on nasty cold days. I raise it twice in the bowl, once in the pans before baking. I hope this helps. (I used to put the bread next to the wood stove, but since we moved into the house and put in a wood furnace, we don't have a wood stove, I miss it on the really bad days!)
edited to say that you are as far east as we are west.
Kathleen, do you ever do the stretch and fold technique with your bread? I'm trying this today for a white whole wheat & walnut bread. My dough's too wet, but we'll see how it turns out. Next time I'll try making it a little drier.