To make the starter or biga, combine the flour and yeast in a medium bowl, slowly add the 3/4 cup water. Mix until a rough dough forms. If needed, add up to 1 cup of water. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface and knead for a few minutes until it becomes smooth. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let stand at room temperature for about 3 hours.
Transfer to the refrigerator and let it chill overnight. In the morning, remove the biga from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature at least 1 hour before proceeding.
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
Cut the biga into small pieces (10-12) and add them in, then, finally the 3/4 cup of the water with the 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Stir together until a dough starts to form. Knead on low with your stand mixer dough hook. Continue to knead the dough for about 5 to 7 minutes — until a soft dough forms. If needed, add in some of the remaining water a little at a time. The dough should be smooth and elastic — just barely sticky.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Remove the dough to a lightly-floured surface. Cut it in 2 being careful not to deflate too much. Cut each piece into 3 equal parts. Shape each piece into a torpedo.
Place the shaped dough on a parchment covered making sheet that was sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. Spray the shaped rolls lightly with oil, then tent lightly with plastic wrap to rise until they are puffy and almost doubled, about 1 hour.
Lightly brush each roll with egg wash then score the rolls with a sharp knife or lamé either on the diagonal or down the middle.
Place a metal baking pan on the lower rack of the oven for use as a steam pan and preheat the oven to 450 F/220 C. When the oven is preheated pour hot water into the metal baking pan and transfer the roll pan to the oven. Bake about 17-20 minutes, until the tops are a golden brown and the internal temperature measures 190 F.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Alternate version: Italian Dinner Rolls
When you are ready to shape the dough measure out 2 oz. pieces and shape them into balls. We got 17 of them. Then follow the directions above until you are ready to bake. Brush an egg wash–1 egg white mixed with 1/2 cup cool tap water — on the rolls. Score the top by snipping with scissors then proceed as the rolls above. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely brown.
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice