my two cents on breakfalling
In my opinion, the breakfall should be customized to each situation (i.e. each throw)
In my school I tend to experience really long throws, or hard throws, in those cases i have always found that sticking the leg out works best, this of course follows the principal of spreading the imapct over a larger surface area. If you are being thrown hard, or far, this definately makes a differnece.
I have seen people passing through my dojo, trained to bend the leg, and they seem to simply absorb more of the imapct with their body and to be honest it looks painful. (althought they always get up and shake it off, or give nage a dirty look)
In the end, I think that it is best to train for both and be able to make the adjustment as needed. Because of all the hard and long throws in my school, I am equipped to take it and can easily adjust down for a speedy recovery to accomodate softer throws.
What i find is really bad is if you train to only use one fixed method for all throws. And then if that one fixed method does not accomodate hard and long throws. Owweee!
regarding the speed in recovery, i agree with the folding of the leg, i tend to quickly draw the leg in after i have made contact, i have tried to cut corners and fold the leg prematurely, but then my back or lower back ends up taking the impact.
hope this helps!