Stretch and fold, when, how many times, how often?
I (am very new to bread baking and) want to use the stretch and fold technique that I have been reading about here. I don’t have a mixer and I want make very wet doughs like for focaccia and ciabatta. I have done the no-knead method and autolyse and know very well that you can make tasty bread without any kneading whatsoever. And I am intrigued by the knowledge that whipping the day light out of a dough results in over oxygenation and actually less tasty bread and therefore leaning ever more toward stretch and fold.
I have not had a chance to read the PR and JH books that describe/discuss this method only the videos and chats on this site. Is it possible to give some generalized guide lines?
I am confused about the following:
1) After you mix in the yeast how do you know how many times you ought to stretch and fold the dough before you let it rest? Some advice is just once to quite a few times?
2) How do you decide how long you should let the dough rest before you stretch and fold again? Some advice is as short as 10 mins or up to 30 mins.
3) How do you know how many cycles of S & F you should do?
4) How can you tell when the right amount of gluten is developed? I have a specific question here. For example in http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2984/jasons-quick-coccodrillo-ciabatta-bread or Rose Levy Berenbaum’s sheet foccacia or http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/3621/quick-rustic-ciabatta-pizza-recipe-full-howto-pics it tells you how long to mix with a mixer at a certain speed for a certain length of time and how the dough will suddenly come together. Not having seen the dough prepared with a mixer is there some way to tell from S & F that you have achieved the same?
5) And importantly why can’t I just do a bunch of S & Fs all at once (as kneading used to be) let the dough rest and not hover over it? Why are the intermediate rest periods important? Would it not work if I did a bunch of S & Fs and then let the dough rest?
6) Related to (5) can I simplify this process in some way and do S & F only once or twice?
7) And then is doing S & F in the bowl just as good as taking the dough out on a counter?
8) Can you actually over do the S & F and ruin your bread?
Last night, just to see, I mixed water and flour at 100% and 113% hydration and let it autolyse. The dough(s) did firm up quite a bit after the 1 hour autolyse. I gave it a few S & F in the bowl with a rubber spatula and that seemed to move things along a little further. I just couldn’t tell if the gluten was developed as the recipes described they should be. Would having added yeast changed things? Those goops are in the fridge. I will add some yeast to them tonight and see where that takes me.
Well! This is a long post. Some of these questions must be so naïve but I hope some them are relevant.
Thank you for any input!