I buy yeast by the jar and store it in the freezer. When I'm ready to make rolls or bread, I remove whatever amount of yeast that I need and let it come to room temperature. Success with any kind of bread or yeast rolls is dependent on the yeast and the freezer keeps it fresh for a long time. Hasn't failed me yet! The jar I use is labeled bread machine rapid rise.
Use the appropriate sized loaf pan. Many times recipes do not specify a size though, so if it doesn't, assume a smaller loaf pan size.
Always proof the yeast by adding some of the warm (110 degree F) liquid to the yeast with at least a pinch of sugar. Let it rest for 5 minutes. If it doesn't puff up and double, the yeast is dead and you must discard it and start over with fresh yeast.
If your kitchen tends to be a bit drafty like mine, use your oven as a warm, draft free place to rise your bread. While you are preparing your dough for the first rise, turn your oven on the lowest warm setting there is, and turn on the oven light.
You don't want a hot oven - that will damage your yeast at this stage - you only want to create a warm environment for rising. Prepare your bowl of dough for the first rise, spray the top of the dough with non-stick spray, cover it with some plastic wrap, then a clean kitchen towel, turn off the oven, and place the bread bowl into the oven. Check at the minimum rise time.
For the second rise, I return the bread to the oven until it's time to preheat the oven for baking. When I remove the dough from the oven to preheat it, I place the loaf pans in the center of my stovetop. I place two tall pots on each side of the bread and tent it with a clean, large bath towel. The bread is covered to prevent any drafts from affecting it, and the towel is high enough that it doesn't touch the bread. The residual warmth from the oven heating and the closed environment under the towel, gives the dough that beautiful top out of the pan we all want.
Check out my Bread Recipes!