I strongly recommend that you use either bread flour or high-gluten flour for this recipe -- I keep some gluten powder around to boost some recipes. Swapping in all-purpose flour is very likely the main culprit here. Some of the other advice to check your yeast is good as well. You might also want to try the recipe a bit wetter -- either add a touch more liquid or leave a bit of the flour out. Get your dough to the point where it's tacky, but not actively sticky.
(Hmmm... I seem to have echoed kkl123 above. Great minds, etc.)
I'm another big King Arthur fan. For yeast, I use SAF Instant -- use about 2 tsp if your recipe calls for 3 tsp of active dry yeast.
If you're going back to making white bread, here's my favorite recipe, courtesy of Peter Reinhart (The Bread Baker's Apprentice
4 1/4 c (19 oz) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp (.38 oz) salt
3 tbsp (1.5 oz) sugar
2 tsp (.22 oz) instant yeast (use 3 tsp active-dry)
1 large (1.65 oz) egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c (2 oz) butter, margarine or shortening at room temperature, or vegetable oil (artk2002: I always use butter, unsalted of course.)
1 1/2 c (12 oz) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
I'm going to assume an electric mixer. The instructions are similar for hand mixing and kneading
- Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add egg, butter and 1 1/4 c milk and mix. The flour should be completely absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If it seems stiff, trickle in more liquid until the dough is soft and supple.
- Knead for 6-8 minutes. Add flour as needed. The dough should be slightly tacky, soft and supple. In the electric mixer it should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough, rolling to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Remove from the bowl and divide in half for loaves (you can also do rolls of various sizes.) Shape the dough into boules. These are balls with a tight surface. Mist with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Shape the loaves by patting into a 5"x6" (or 8") rectangle. Working from the short side, roll the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to improve the surface tension. It should spread as you roll, reaching a final width of 8-9". Don't taper the ends. Put the loaves into lightly oiled 8 1/2 x 4 1/2" loaf pans. The ends of the loaves should touch the ends of the pans.
- Mist the tops with spray oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes (again, until double in size.)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the loaves with egg wash if you wish.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through. The internal temperature should be about 190° F and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped.
- When done, remove immediately from the pans and let cool on racks.
I know this seems like a lot, but it's really easy to follow. When I have the time, I bake this for the family and this is our standard sandwich bread. I also make hamburger or hot dog buns with the same recipe. You can substitute King Arthur white whole-wheat flour, but add .7 oz (about 1 tbsp) of gluten powder.