Sure thing. I got it from this food blog here.
I'll get some fresh yeast this weekend. I'm determined to actually make edible bread! I'll check out those books, thank you.
Just read the recipe and I hope its the masa bread recipe you were trying to make. The thing that stuck out was the inclusion of hot water into the dry ingredients. You don't want hot water, you want lukewarm, like appycamper wrote, about 100-110 degrees max is what you are looking for. Hot water just kills the yeast, and if its not fresh to begin with, it will take a lot longer to rise because there are too few yeast cells and it will make a real bad smell. Also, if you put the yeast directly on top of the salt you added into the mixing bowl and then add the hot water, it becomes a yeast bloodbath, as the salt and the hot water will both kill the yeast. And if the room where the dough is trying to double is a little chilly, that could also slow down the rise.
The great thing is that even if its frustrating, its a pretty cheap mistake, maybe a couple of bucks. And with just a little more patience, it will all come together and make something real decent to eat.
Here's some small small tips.
Put all the dry ingredients, except the yeast in the bowl and mix them together with a whisk. This spreads out the salt so its a little less potent.
When you're mixing the dough and after a few minutes of the dough coming together it seems dry, add water by the teaspoon, and then wait for a bit to see if that helps and go on from there. The key is very small steps. If it seems too wet, add some dough by the level teaspoon. In recipes the amount of dough and liquids are pretty close approximations as the flour may hold different levles of moisture at different times of the year; so they may need very slight adjustments.
The recipe for the masa bread says that the dough should be soft and springy after kneading. Springy to me means that when you poke the dough slightly with your finger the indent should pretty much bounce back. If you poke it after its risen this indent should bounce back only a little.
If your kitchen is a little chilly, start your oven, let it run for about twenty seconds and then shut it off. This is just a little bit of warmth. You don't want it hot in there, just give it a little bit of warmth. Put your dough to rise in the oven.
After the dough has risen you don't want to flatten it too much. Just gently depress it a little to get some of the gas out. As you shape it , don't be overly rough, as you do want to keep some of the gas in there. Too much gas makes overly big holes in the bread, too little gas makes the bread too dense.
And a really good website is King Arthur flour. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes2008/
The reason being, if you make one of their recipes, which are actually pretty good, and it doesn't go right, you can call or email them and work out what the problems are. Pretty good outfit to deal with and they've helped me quite a bit.