New and already experiencing massive epic fail. Go me!
I've wanted to start baking out own bread for a while now, but finally got my husband on board when he heard an NPR special on corn syrup in bread.
Today was my first attempt and I after reading every standard recipe on several websites and watching some videos I embarked on my mission. I used a very basic recipe (although I did add honey and used 1 cup of whole wheat flour with two cups white). My mistake: Buying yeast at my neighborhood grocery store. (I live in a college area of a college town, I'm betting the yeast doesn't fly off the shelves.)
I proofed my yeast and it didn't exactly foam, but there was a layer of kind of scummy stuff on top which i thought was probably foam. The water was lukewarm and comfortable on my wrist. Not knowing any better, I used it. The dough would not rise, but my house is cool. I eventually put the dough over a sink of hot water and made myself believe it rose. I couldn't really tell if the shaped loaf rose or not, but I had two hours invested in it, so I baked it anyway.
It's not quite a doorstop, but it's pretty close.
I then tested the other two packets of yeast in the three pack. One I proofed in slightly warmer water than I used before and one in slightly cooler. Neither foamed, I got grey scum on the warmer water and nothing at all on the cooler water try.
So...fun with baking!