I know, I know, that's Anacin and not Excedrin. It's really only there as a comparative visual aid, so that you can see how tiny my loaf was and how badly I suck at baking bread. **BIG sigh**
Perhaps baking bread is a bit like bowling. You imagine that just because you've had a couple of really good games/loaves, you're ready to join the PBA (Professional Bowlers/Bakers Association, take your pick.) Then you get your stinky rented bowling shoes knocked down a size or two by rolling a 96 and you realize that bowling that 300 game just minutes earlier was only a fluke, like that perfect loaf of bread you baked last week.
You beat yourself up wondering what you did wrong. What changed? Did I screw up on the approach by adding in that tablespoon of potato flour? Did I knead to the left when I should have kneaded to the right? Was my pan too big?... too small? (They never have the right size at the rental counter)
Here's what I did. I headed back to the pro shop. That would be King Arthur's Flour. I learned that my bread pans are indeed the wrong size. Evidently the difference between a pan that is 9 x 5 and one that is 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 is enough to significantly change the height of a loaf by as much as 30%.
So like any pro who is having an off day, I ordered more tools of the trade.
Sooner or later, I'm going to get this right.
On a side note, I had no idea that my choice of headache medicine dates me. The kids call Anacin "that 70's aspirin."