Biga: Mix the yeast and water together, and then slowly start adding the flour, mixing well. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours, or refrigerate overnight.
Bread: Place the water in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over top and mix well. Let sit 10 minutes until bubbly.
Add the biga, flour, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon (or mix with your hands) until everything is mixed. The dough will be fairly wet and sticky at this point.
Cover and let stand in a warm spot for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume. Punch down the dough, folding it over on itself two or three times, cover and let rise once more until doubled, about 1 hour.
To bake the following day, refrigerate the dough at this time and leave it overnight.
Turn out your dough onto a floured baking sheet, and without overworking it too much, shape into one large or two smaller round or oval shaped loaves, using as much extra flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Slash across the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife or razor just prior to baking.
Preheat the oven to 350° F and place a casserole dish with boiling water on the lower oven rack. Bake for 30 minutes, turn the baking sheet around, and reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for another 30-45 minutes. Bread should be golden brown and should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
Allow the bread to cool to room temperature and serve.
Baking Tip: You could also use a baguette pan to make long thin loaves, or spread your dough across a well-oiled cookie sheet to make focaccia.
Variations:*Roasted Garlic & Basil Bread: Coarsely chop 1-2 heads (bulbs) roasted garlic and add to flour along with about 1 teaspoon crushed dried basil.
Rosemary Bread: Add 4 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary to the flour. Brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with coarse sea salt just prior to baking.
Olive Bread: Add 12 ounces flavorful, pitted olives, coarsely chopped to the flour.
*To roast garlic: Heat oven to 350°F Peel away paper like skin from around the garlic bulbs leaving just enough to hold bulb intact. Trim tops of garlic bulbs about 1/2 inch to expose cloves. Place bulbs stem ends down on 12 inch square of foil. Drizzle each bulb with 2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil. Wrap securely in foil and place in pie plate or shallow baking pan.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until garlic is tender when pierced with toothpick or fork.
Cool slightly. Gently squeeze garlic out of cloves (1 ounce bulb of roasted garlic= about 1 Tablespoon mashed garlic).