Your dough appears to be behaving according to form. Adding the yeast (the Fleischmann's bread machine yeast is actually a form of IDY) late in the process will usually slow things down, especially if you keep the dough on the cool side, as by using cold water to begin with. The late addition of IDY is something I played around with quite a bit at this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.0.html
. It is also possible, but far less known, to use ADY in dry form to extend the window of fermentation/usability of a dough. I described such an application, in the context of a Papa John's clone dough, at Reply 48 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg64308.html#msg64308
. One has to be careful when using ADY dry, however, to take into account that at some point down the line the ADY will have to be rehydrated just as with any form of yeast. As you can see from the post referenced, it can take many days for the rehydration of ADY to take place such that the dough starts to rise in a noticeable fashion. The use of the ADY dry would be a very good method to use if one wants to extend the window of usability out to several days.
As with most things in pizza making, there is little that has not been tried somewhere at some time. That also applies to sifting flour. I used to occasionally read where some member did this, but I paid little attention to it because I knew that all flour that comes from a miller was already sifted. I believe that I was reawakened to the possibility of sifting flour when I saw November do it. Knowing him, I knew that there must have been a good reason to do it--one grounded in good science. He discussed the notion of sifting flour (and an autolyse-like method as well) at Reply 12 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.msg33942.html#msg33942
. See also November's feelings on sifting flour in the first couple of sentences in his post at Reply 6 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5028.msg42572/topicseen.html#msg42572
. In my experience, sifting the flour improves the hydration of the flour and makes for a more robust, higher-quality dough. However, I cannot honestly say that I have been able to detect the effects of using sifted flour in the finished crust. I routinely jump between using and not using sifted flour just to see if I notice differences and, apart from improved hydration when using sifted flour, I can't say that I can tell its use just from the finished crust.
Autolyse is a trickier subject. Except when I have used a natural starter/preferment, my experience is that the finished crust is too bread-like. One member asked me a while back what I meant by "bread-like". You can see my response at Reply 5 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7225.msg62715/topicseen.html#msg62715
. Semantics can sometimes get in the way of trying to explain differences, but I can tell you that when eating a crust I can clearly distinguish between bread-like and non-bread-like. What may be more useful to you is to quote from Professor Raymond Calvel's book A Taste of Bread
. At page 31, it says:Autolysis is the slow-speed premixing of the flour and water in a recipe (excluding all the other ingredients), followed by a rest period. The other ingredients are added when mixing is recommenced [...]. During experiments in 1974, Professor Calvel discovered that the rest period improves the links between starch, gluten, and water, and notably improves the extensibility of the dough. As a result, when mixing is restarted, the dough forms a mass and reaches a smooth state more quickly. Autolysis reduces the total mixing time (and therefore the dough's oxidation) by approximately 15%, facilitates the molding of unbaked loaves, and produces bread with more volume, better cell structure, and a more supple crumb. Although the use of autolysis is advantageous in the production of most types of bread, including regular French bread, white pan sandwich bread and sweet bread doughs, it is especially valuable in the production of natural levain leavened breads.
Elsewhere in his book, Prof. Calvel talked about the finished crumb being "creamy colored" and with an "agreeable taste" and with a "pleasant mouthfeel". However, the most detailed description of autolyse in the book is the material quoted above. To the best of my knowledge, Prof. Calvel never talked about autolysis in the context of pizza dough, only bread dough, croissants and brioche and perhaps a few other yeasted doughs. Maybe it was the scientist in him, but he never gushed about autolyse and its benefits. It was all a matter-of-fact approach.