Advice/Help Need... Baking Bread in South Florida...
So, if you've seen my profile, then you already know that I live in Boca Raton, FL. If you don't know, that's about 45 minutes north of Miami via I-95, and less than 5 miles away from the Atlantic coast (the beach is fun... if you can beat the weather). I'm having an issue down here making bread, best exemplified by one specific recipe.
I have a very deep love for challah. I grew up Jewish (though I only identify as a cultural Jew now) and challah, to me, when made right, is the greatest thing. There's this recipe that made some of my favorite challah. It's "Cool Cats Challah". I posted the recipe here: breadmachine  and no breadmachine . You should look at it carefully because it's the crux of the problem.
In Georgia, following the directions, this always came out fluffy and light, with a perfect crust and wonderful flavor. And I made both versions... with and without the breadmachine. Either way, it'd come out amazing.
Then I moved to Boca in 2009.
I didn't get back into making bread for a couple years because I just didn't have the time. Then, about 6 months ago, I decided to make the challah again (with the breadmachine) and...
It still tasted great, but the bread was dense and the crust chewy and tough.
I didn't change the recipe at all. I followed it exactly, and all ingredients were, as always, kept to room temperature.
What happened? Why this sudden change in texture? How do I fix it to get that fluffy light texture I remember from Georgia?