Problems reading my dough
I've been baking sourdough loaves for 4 or 5 years now but I'm still having trouble reading my dough at 2 specific points. I autolyse, add starter and salt and mix on low until the gluten seems pretty well developed. Then I turn it out into a greased bowl and do 3 or 4 sets of stretch and folds, usually just following a recipe. This is where I have my first question.
If the dough is nice and extensible and achieves windowpane, should I continue to do stretch and folds just because the recipe says so or is there something I should look for that tells me that it's time to move on to bulk fermentation?
Today I felt like I could have moved on after 2 sets of S&Fs. The dough was silky smooth and stretched out about 18" for the first couple of folds, gradually tightening up until, after 5 or 6 folds, it was nice and tight. It did relax after a few minutes though. What am I looking for here?
My second question is about the Poke Test. My dough almost never springs back after I poke it so I am never certain whether it's finished proofing.
Today I went and did the test every 20-30 minutes, just to see if I could get a better sense of its readiness, but I never saw much change, other than a slow increase in size. Someone told me that doing S&Fs knocks enough air out of sourdough that it frequently doesn't double in size the way a yeast bread does, so I should use the poke test instead of waiting for it to double. I can't go by suggested times because almost all recipes are written by people who lives in cooler climates than me. Why isn't the poke test working for me?
My bread always rises and the crumb is generally decent but it isn't consistently excellent. I think that my baking would really improve if I could master these two areas of uncertainty.
Suggestions would really be appreciated.