I had NEVER baked bread before, but I grew up with a mother that made a lot. I was curious that the recipe didn't put the yeast in a little bowl with warm water first (since I saw my mother do it all the time). So... I looked around to find out why - It is called proofing the yeast (testing it) - because it CAN go bad. It was also mentioned that it 'proofing' is not required...
Anyway - I did it the way my mother did - warm water and sugar in a pre-warmed bowl - add the yeast and wait for it to froth up a bit (a couple of minutes) - The first batch I used dropped to the bottom of the bowl and did nothing - no bubbles - it just sank. So I bought some new yeast (that hadn't been in the cupboard for years) and tried it - the yeast mostly floated and swelled up immediately.
So - I would suggest that the ONLY reason some people had difficulty with the bread rising is because they had bad yeast - Another note on that - on advice from my mother I made sure the room was warm with no cold breezes - she said it would stall the bread from rising.
Apart from some poor loaf forming on my part, the bread was perfect - one was symmetrical... the other looked like a bad comb over - but was still good
As for the 'salty' taste - Well, I don't bake a lot - my first 'bread' attempt - but I DO cook a lot - Salt is used to taste and is not required for a recipe to work - so... add what you want (within reason - hehe) or cut it all out...it just affects taste
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I had NEVER baked bread before, but I grew up with a mother that made a lot. I was curious...