This is a slice of my latest attempt to make bread. I've always had success with the family recipe, but lately I've been turning to my new favorite cookbook for some variety. Unfortunately, every time I have tried, the bread has failed to rise. The photo shows my fourth or fifth attempt, and I am just not sure what to do. I know the yeast is good, and this last time I added vital wheat gluten to help it out, but it did no good. I have two theories:
1. My house is too cold. It is usually around the mid to upper 60s indoors, and though I try to create warm spots for the bread to rise, it may not be enough. Perhaps I'll have more success in the summer?
2. Insufficient kneading. Due to a chronic pain issue, my arms get sore pretty quickly, so I usually take a couple of breaks while kneading and give up all together before I should. A stand mixer with a dough hook may solve my problems, but I am too poor for one of those.
So. Has anyone else had bread problems like this? How did you cope? Right now it is making me feel like this: