bread a little dense
I am a new baker. Have only made about 10 loaves of bread. I have mainly been using the recipe below with a few slight variations.(First few loaves I did I did'nt use any eggs, sugar, butter, and substituted water for milk). I adjusted the recipe to try and get more fluffiness and since I did the loaves still turn out decent and taste great. (Much better then store bought). Only issue I'm having is bread still seems to come out a little dense. Would like it to be a little softer and more airy. Thinking it could be a kneading or rising issue, but frankly, not sure. So..... am posting my recipe and method. Hopefully you pros out there can give me some advice. I will try to be as detailed as possible. Any help for this newbie appreciated.
4-5 cups bread flour
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup very warm water
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp or packet dry active yeast
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
Oil for coating
In a large bowl I combine the yeast and water. Stir and let stand 5-10 min. to get yeast working. In a small bowl add the milk and butter and heat in microwave till milk is scalded. Pull out and let cool till luke warm. While waiting, in small bowl I beat the egg slightly. Add salt and sugar. Stir. Add to the yeast/water mixture. Stir. When cooled I add the milk/butter mixture. Stir. Add one cup of flour at a time mixing together with spatula until dough is no longer able to be stirred with spoon. ( 3 1/2-4 cups). Flour hands and knead dough until smooth, yet tacky, and elastic. Approx. 5-15 min. Adding very small amounts of flour as needed just to keep dough from sticking. While dough ball is out of bowl I clean excess flour and grease thoroughly. Add dough ball. Flip once and cover with damp cloth. Let rise till doubled in size. Usually about an hour depending on kitchen temp. My kitchen is usually between 75-80 degree F. and it usually rises well. After first rise I punch, fold, and work dough for another ten min. Then I grease a 9 by 5 loaf pan. Add dough ball and shape. Cover again and let rise for about another hour, maybe hour and 15 min. Dough usually crests about an inch over pan in middle but not on sides. Add to middle rack of preheated oven for 30-45 min. Oven is set at 400 degree convection bake. Pull out and let cool on rack.
Bread doesn't seem to rise at all during baking. Top of bread gets pretty brown. Would like sides and bottom to have a bit more color, and also like I said previously the main issue is the density.
I included the photo so you can see how my loaves are looking and maybe give tips from seeing it.