But back to my original question: what ARE the effects of higher/lower final dough temps before going into the fridge. Is it simply a matter of how much fermentation occurs? Does it effect the crumb of the final product? The airiness? The amount of oven rise?
Your questions do not have a simple, canned or stock answer. And the reason is that there is interconnectedness to everything. I discussed finished dough temperature at length in my last post, since that was your topic heading and the subject of many of your questions, but you really shouldn’t look at finished dough temperature in isolation. There are many other factors involved, including most notably the quantity of yeast used and the method of fermentation (e.g., room temperature fermentation, cold fermentation, or some combination of both). I have addressed the finished dough temperature/yeast quantity issue many times before in different contexts, including at this post which may help answer your questions: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3626.msg30547/topicseen.html#msg30547
(Reply 2). To the extent that the above post does not answer all or most of your remaining questions from your last post, allow me to make some general statements and comments that may help fill in some of the blanks.
All else being equal, a dough that has a high finished dough temperature will ferment faster than one with a lower finished dough temperature. Similarly, a dough that has a lot of yeast will ferment faster than one that has very little yeast. From these simple statements, it becomes obvious that a dough that has both a high finished dough temperature and a lot of yeast will ferment faster—both volumetrically and rate—than one that has a low finished dough temperature and a small amount of yeast. But there are other differences. A dough that has a high finished dough temperature and a high level of yeast will usually have a rather short lifespan and, for that reason, is usually used fairly promptly, typically within a matter of a few hours, or a bit longer if refrigerated before using. Some professional pizza operators refer to such a dough as an “emergency” dough or a “fast rise” dough. Depending on the amount of yeast used, the finished crust may have a pronounced “yeasty” flavor and aroma, but because of the short fermentation time there will be insufficient development of flavor- and aroma-contributing compounds that govern how the finished crust will taste, look and smell. It takes time for these compounds to develop. They can’t be developed in any meaningful way within a few hours. Also, the finished crust will usually have less color, because of insufficient residual sugar levels at the time of baking, and a less developed crumb structure and texture.
By contrast, a dough with both a low finished dough temperature and a low level of yeast will have a lot more time to develop the byproducts of fermentation that contribute to crust flavor, aroma, and texture. Natural sugars to feed the yeast will be gradually released by enzymatic performance from the damaged starch in the flour and be available at the time of baking to contribute to oven spring and crust color, and, in many cases, sweetness of the crust. Bacteria also come into the picture in a more involved way. The fermentation process can take place at room temperature or in a cold environment. As you know, yeast and enzymes behave differently at room temperature than in a cold environment, such as a refrigerator, and both have preferences as to temperature, but both will produce quite comparable results. It will just take longer for the dough that is kept in the refrigerator. As you know, in certain cases, the period of time in the refrigerator can be more than a week and still perform proficiently, yielding a finished crust of good color, flavor, natural sweetness, and texture.
But even finished dough temperature and yeast quantity can’t be viewed in isolation. They are overlays to everything else. As noted in the abovereferenced post, one also has to take hydration, flour type and salt levels into account. For example, all else being equal, a dough that has a high hydration will ferment faster and contribute to a more open and airy crumb than one with a low hydration. Similarly, a dough that has a lot of salt will ferment more slowly than one with little salt. A flour with a high protein content will tolerate a longer fermentation time than one with a low protein content and, if the dough is properly kneaded, will have a better developed gluten structure that can better retain the gases of fermentation and yield a better volume (rise) and oven spring (and it will also contribute more flavor and chewiness to the finished crust). But even that isn’t the end of it. You also have to also take the baking protocol into account, since the manner in which the pizza is baked can affect things like oven spring and the crispiness, color and flavor of the finished crust. As you can see, each item is like an instrument in an orchestra that has a defined role that must be balanced with all of the other instruments to contribute to a pleasurable overall performance.