Given my perferment level and time in fridge, do you think that I can get better results with a long bench rise? If so, how long would you suggest? I realize there are a lot of variables that you don't know, so I realize that things won't be exact, but any advice would help. Should I just suggest that we go out for pizza instead?
Of all the types of dough formulations, the hardest to analyze are those based on using natural starters/preferments. There are just so many variables, including the type, quantity and readiness of the starter/preferment in question and the many possible fermentation protocols, all of which are temperature dependent. Also, in my case, I have not worked with natural leavening systems for some time, which means that I have to rely more on memory and past experiments with such natural leavening systems. As a result, I am more of a "consultant" to others than a participant.
The above said, I noted that the dough formulation as you posted it in the opening post of this thread seems to be quite similar to one that I helped develop for member Norma and that is set forth at Reply 104 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11700.msg110725.html#msg110725
. The main difference is that Norma added a small amount of oil (1%) to the dough. In her case, she used a five-hour fermentation (bulk) at room temperature, followed by several days of cold fermentation, and a short period of tempering at room temperature just before she used the dough to make pizzas. Norma also used the Ischia culture. She subsequently used other fermentation protocols with the same or similar dough formulations with very good results. So, using a period of room temperature fermentation (bulk), as Norma used in most cases, does appear to have merit. Sometime when you have some spare time you might want to read the entire thread (starting at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11700.0.html
) on Norma's journey to make quality NY style pizzas using a natural leavening system. The thread is a long one but I think you will come away with a much better understanding of the factors involved in making naturally leavened doughs.
In your specific case, since you did not use any fermentation in bulk at room temperature before you refrigerated the dough balls, the dough balls should benefit from a period of fermentation at room temperature before using. The last time I experienced a similar problem was when I attempted to make a naturally leavened dough (also using the Ischia culture) for a Papa John's clone pizza. I described that experiment at Reply 38 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg60892.html#msg60892
. As you will see from that post, it took almost a full day at room temperature for the dough to rise enough to be usable as I intended. In your case, the biochemistry of your dough may not require as long a temper time, so you may have to monitor your situation to see how fast the dough develops.
To the above, I should add that delayed fermentation can also occur when using commercial yeast. A good example of this is a dough--also a Papa John's clone dough--that I made using ADY in an unorthodox manner that resulted in a dough that took a temper period of about 10 hours at room temperature to be usable to make a pizza. The details on that dough can be found at Reply 48 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg64308.html#msg64308
Please let us know what you decide to do and with what results.