Peter, if the yeast is refrigerated or frozen, which, imo, is a practice all of the forum members should be following, then when cold or frozen yeast meets cold or very cold water, there's no disparity in temp- there is no shock, thus, no 'shock problem.'
You think or you know? I'm all for experimenting with every possible permutation of fermentation time, so any practice that improves upon exceptionally long ferments is a good one, but is there any proof that using colder water is any superior to using less yeast? You could say that, as you get into this quantity of yeast, measuring becomes an issue, but isn't this what dash/pinch/smidgeon measuring spoons are for?
If the manner in which IDY is incorporated into dough only becomes a concern when the water is cold- only becomes complex with cold water, why not opt for the less complex, hassle free approach of using less yeast for exceptionally long ferments rather than colder water?
For me, if cold water is such a glutathione infested can of worms, and there's no proof that using less yeast is any less effective, why not avoid the hassle of using cold water?
You drive a hard bargain, LOL. But I love it.
Addressing first the shocking shock issue, I think most people will find that by the time they make a dough with dry yeast that has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer, its temperature will have quickly reached or approached room temperature. In fact, if you do a search on how to use dry yeast that has been frozen or refrigerated you will generally find two schools of thought: let the yeast warm up at room temperature before using or just use the yeast right out of the refrigerator or freezer. You will find advocates in great numbers on each side of the issue. I am not sure it really matters which way you go. I suspect that most people remove the yeast from the refrigerator or freezer and set it aside as they prepare the rest of the ingredients. In my case, I add the yeast (IDY) to the flour as soon as I have measured it out. That way, I won't forget the yeast. The yeast in my case is cold right out of the freezer, but I do stir it into the flour. By the time I get the rest of the ingredients measured out and am ready to make the dough, the yeast should be at the same temperature as the flour, which is at room temperature. Also, the amount of yeast that I typically use is quite small so it will warm up very quickly.
You are correct that there are specialty measuring spoons that can be used to measure out very small amounts of yeast. I have a set of those mini-measuring spoons and use them as much as possible. But from what I can tell, not many of our members use them. They are more likely to use special scales that can weigh out small amounts of yeast.
BTW, it isn't only yeast that warms up fairly quickly to room temperature. I remember experimenting with flour that was kept cold, either in the refrigerator or in the freezer. The idea came from Bev Collins, who had worked for years in R&D at Domino's. What I discovered is that flour also quickly approaches room temperature in preparation for making the dough, and far faster than I ever imagined. I also discovered that cold dough ingredients, including cold water, make it harder to form the dough so that the flour is properly hydrated, and as a result it takes the mixer longer to get the dough to the desired condition. By that time, the finished dough temperature is about where it would have been if room temperature flour and a shorter mix/knead time had been used.
With respect to the quoted language in your post, I intentionally left the sentence hanging, with the expectation that you or someone else might query me on it. I also intentionally used the word "think" instead of "know", simply because I do not know for sure that controlling water temperature is better than using less yeast (or more yeast for that matter). I have often debated in my own mind whether yeast quantity is a more powerful force than temperature. I still don't know the answer. However, one of the things that I have taken away from Tom Lehmann's writings is that as between adjusting the amount of yeast and adjusting water temperature, he tends to favor adjusting water temperature, specifically, to achieve a desired finished dough temperature. In this vein, a pizza operator might be tempted to adjust for seasonal changes by simply using more or less yeast rather than adjusting the water temperature. In most such cases, Tom advises that they first try adjusting the water temperature to achieve the desired finished dough temperature. I am sure that this type of advice is most useful in a commercial settings since it is far easier to train workers to adjust water temperature than yeast quantity. However, as Norma noted, adjusting water temperature alone does not always work. In such cases, there is nothing wrong in adjusting yeast quantiy in addition to water temperature.
The above aside, there are also other reasons for not simply reducing the amount of yeast. If the yeast quantity is too low, there may be inadequate fermentation and one can end up with a finished crust that is unacceptably dense and flat. Also, if insufficiently fermented, the crust can have a sour taste. Papa John's knows this and that is the reason why they do not want the workers in their stores using the dough before three days of cold fermentation.
I also discovered the risks of using too little yeast in a cold fermented dough from an experiment I conducted several years ago. After having made doughs that cold fermented for over twenty days, and were used successfully, I wondered how far I could push the envelope as far as the duration of cold fementation was concerned yet still have a functional dough. So, I decided to use several methods that were typically used to extend the duration of cold fermentation. I used ice cold water, I used a very small amount of IDY, and I added the IDY toward the end of the dough preparation. I don't recall if I used cold flour, which I was aware of at the time, but I stored the dough in a metal container that I had precooled in the freezer. I used salt at around 2%, which was higher than I would normally use, but I did not want the salt to impede the performance of the yeast to the point where the dough would not be a functional dough. I used no oil and I used no sugar. I observed the dough as it cold fermented. I did this on a daily basis. And what did the dough do? Nothing. After better than two weeks, still nothing. I finally decided to see how the dough handled since a live dough, even one with very little yeast, will feel alive. In this instance, the dough felt dead, much like putty in my hands. I concluded that the steps I took in effect neutered the yeast. I never repeated the experiment but maybe had I used more yeast, as I did with the experiments with long-lived doughs with normal amounts of yeast that were successful, I might have achieved the results I was looking for.
Over the years, I have conducted many other experiments dealing with cold. I have used refrigerated or frozen flour. I have used shaved ice and only solid ice cubes in lieu of water. I have frozen dough in the freezer to lower its finished dough temperature before moving into the refrigerator compartment. I have used cold metal storage containers. I have used refrigerator versions of crossstacking and downstacking (with single dough balls). I have made doughs that were intended at the outset to be frozen, using many of the techniques used by commercial outfits that make frozen dough balls. And what I found remarkable about these experiments is how yeast is such a resilient ingredient. But the experiment I described above told me that, as resilient as yeast is, there are limits as to what you can do to it.