1) Mix all dry ingredients for the starter in a medium bowl and then add the water. Mix it together until it forms a firm ball. Err on the side of sticky on this. It’s easier to add more flour than more water.
2) Knead the starter on a clean surface for about 5 minutes until smooth and soft, but not sticky. Coat the ball lightly with oil and put it in a covered bowl.
3) Ferment this at room temperature for 90 minutes and then in the fridge overnight.
4) When you’re ready to make the rolls, take your starter out of the fridge and cut it into a dozen small pieces. Put the pieces in a bowl and let them come back to room temperature (probably take an hour).
5) Add all your dry ingredients for the dough to a seperate large bowl and mix them together. Then stir in all your wet ingredients and the chopped up starter pieces. Mix this either with a spoon or on low with dough hook until it comes together in a ball. You might need to add more flour if it’s too sticky.
6) Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes or mix it on low speed with a dough hook for 6-8 minutes. The final version should pass the windowpane test and be soft but not too sticky.
7) Lightly coat the dough in oil and let ferment at room temperature until it doubles in size (90-120 minutes).
8) Form the rolls by sectioning off a 3.5-4 ounce piece of dough. Roll the piece of dough out into a long strand about 18 inches long. Then take the left end and put it over the right end forming a loop. Next, loop the right end through the center. Do the same thing with the left end but in the reverse direction. Then roll both ends through another time and they should basically meet in the center, filling the hole.
9) As you finish each roll, add them upside-down to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle each roll with a bit of semolina flour or cornmeal.
10) Let the rolls rise for 30 minutes, then flip them and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
11) Spritz the rolls really well with water until they are sticky and top each roll with poppy or sesame seeds.
12) Bake the rolls starting in a 425 degree oven. Spritz the sides of the oven with water to create steam. Cook for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
13) Cool the rolls for at least 30 minutes before slicing into them.