Over time, I learned to knead properly which helped the softness issue. I could make pretty tasty loaves with nice, rounded tops that sliced up decently enough to make snacks and sandwiches.
But, no matter what I tried, no matter how much or how little yeast I used, no matter how long or short I kneaded, no matter if I used sugar or honey, white or wheat... I could not get that bread to rise up to the height I wanted. I envisioned beautifully fluffy dough just falling out over the edges of the pan, making a perfect little mushroom shaped sliced. We couldn't have our big, tall slice, so we settled for big, fat slices and were happy enough.
When I got back from Seattle, I made my first attempt after months of no baking. It was a big fail. I was back to small, tasteless bricks that end up getting fed to ducks. And I made four loaves that time. We finally made our way through those and I decided to give it another go with a new recipe that I found on Pinterest, although I wasn't very hopeful or motivated. But, it was called Milk and Honey bread, which sounded like something that belongs in my house :), so it was worth a shot.
You can find the recipe here: http://theslowroasteditalian.blogspot.com/2011/07/milk-and-honey-white-bread.html
And you can see the results here!!
Look at that fat rise! My heart lept. Another angle perhaps?
And its all thanks to this recipe!