First off, I am thrilled to find that this forum exists. It is reassuring to know that I am not the only pizza maniac out there and I am really enjoying reading through The Pizza Bible. So, thanks to all.
I have been maintaining a very active, 100% hydration starter for quite some time and use that, and only that, to leaven my dough. I have used the autolyse method with certain artisan breads, but haven't yet tried it with pizza. I usually begin by weighing out my starter in a bowl and then adding ingredients (weighed) on top of the starter in that bowl. I do this because I worry that taking the opposite approach (pouring/scooping starter into the other ingredients) would leave too much starter clinging to the sides of the original container. By weighing starter and adding ingredients on top of it, I know definitively how much starter I use. Hopefully, that explanation makes sense. If I plan to autolyse and leaven with my starter, would the best approach be to hydrate the flour for an hour or so and then scrape that mixture into the appropriate amount of starter? Also, when using the autolyse method, do you recommend folding the mixture every 15 or so minutes?
I also have a question about mixing and kneading...sorry in advance for the long post. I currently don't have a stand mixer and mix all my dough by hand and with a dough whisk. I often worry that I am over-kneading, but have also heard that when it comes to hand kneading, it is really hard to over-do it. I will generally use the dough whisk until it becomes too cumbersome, then turn the dough out, and begin to knead. I give the dough what I would consider to be an aggressive knead for 10 or so minutes until it is tacky, but smooth. I then let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour, then divide, ball, and refrigerate for around 72 hours. I am usually pretty happy with the result, but know there is always room to improve. Would less kneading improve the dough? With bread, I was taught that dough should be kneaded until it is baby's butt smooth, so I am curious to know if pizza dough is the same.
Sorry again for being so long winded!