Answers for You
Wht won't my bread rise?
There are a number of possible causes of this. The first is that you kitchen is too cold to allow the yeast to activate. Either move your dough to a warmer location (ideally about 25C) or simply allow extra time for the rise. The longer a bread takes to rise, the tastier the final product. The second reason could be simply too little yeast in the dough. Check your recipe again. A word of warning though, too much yeast will cause the dough to rise too fast and then it will collapse during baking. The third cause may be due to poor kneading or mixing. You need to allow 8-10 minutes if kneading by hand or at least 5 minutes if using a dough hook on a machine mixer to ensure that the yeast and flour are distributed evenly. This will then allow the gluten structures to begin to form which eventually make the bread rise. Finally you may be using a flour that has a low amount of protein in it eg Rye, plain or self raising flour. Flours with less than 11% protein are very difficult to make good bread with. You need to buy flours marked as Bread Flour.
Why is salt added to the bread dough recipe if it is bad for you?
Salt is critical in bread making. It acts as a regulator to the yeast. If no salt is used the loaf rises too quickly and then the dough effectively runs out of energy and collapses in on itself. Too much salt however kills the yeast and the bread wont rise at all. Salt also acts as a flavour enhancer to the final bread dough.
Is there any difference between hand kneading and using a dough hook on a standmixer?
Time is the main difference. Using a dough hook can reduce the kneading time by approximately a third. However using your hands to knead is a fantastic way of feeling the dough develop from a mix of water and dry ingredients to a soft silky ball of energy ready to make delicious bread.
If I leave my dough to stand a long time won’t I get a better risen / lighter baked loaf?
Normally recipes call for the dough to double in size before being baked. Therefore leaving it to triple in size must produce an even better / lighter loaf? Unfortunately not. At a point all the energy required for the bread to rise will have been used up then the dough will simply collapse back onto itself either whilst still in the bowl proving or when it is placed in the baking tin.