Difficulty mixing in starter/salt after autolyse - advice?
I've always done an autolyse (about 40 minutes of flour+water only, no salt or starter) in my sourdough process. I hold back ~50ml of water from the initial mix and add it after the autolyse to make the mixing in of water+starter easier. This is a technique I first learned from theperfectloaf.com, but have also seen it elsewhere.
As I understand, autolyse is meant to give the dough some initial structure. The drawback is that after autolyse, when I go to mix in the starter and salt, it is hard to incorporate them because the dough has already strengthened to the point where it resists mixing. It turns into thick ropes that don't readily absorb the liquid starter and don't combine again easily (imagine a big rubber band ball). After enough time and work, I can get it mixed but not without tearing the dough a lot, which seems to defeat the purpose of the autolyse, which was to build dough structure.
One thing I've thought to try is skipping the extra water after the autolyse. The water may be hurting more than helping because it coats the surface of the dough, preventing it from sticking back to itself, which makes incorporation harder.
Any other suggestions? Skip the autolyse altogether? A different mixing technique? (Currently trying the "Rubaud" method but not sure if I'm doing it right).