In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and the sugar. (Omit the salt at this point, although salt doesn’t automatically kill dried yeast.) Add half the flour, and stir with your fingertips until you have a very sloppy paste indeed. Gradually add the rest of the flour, plus the oil and salt, working with your fingers until you have a merely moist ball of dough. Dust the bowl of your food mixer with flour, and transfer the dough ball to it. With the dough hook, knead on a low speed for about 10 minutes.
You will now need a large floured tray. Flour your hands liberally and detach a piece of dough, the size roughly of a tangerine (halfway between a golf ball and tennis ball). Roll into a perfect sphere in your hands and place neatly on the floured tray. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Flour lightly and cover with a very slightly damp teatowel. Place in a warm room (21°C/70°F) for 2 hours to rise. The bread is now ready to make pizze or focaccia.
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.