Step 1In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir to completely dissolve. Let it fizz for about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, 2 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, olive oil and water. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a batter.
Step 2Sprinkle a work surface generously with flour. Transfer the batter to the floured surface. Knead in the remaining 1 cup flour a little at a time, kneading for 8 to 10 minutes in all. The dough should be soft and elastic but not sticky; add a little bit more flour if needed. Shape the dough into a ball.
Step 3Line a large bowl with a clean linen dish towel. Dust the towel generously with flour. Set the dough in it, fold the towel over the top and mist lightly with water, leaving it just damp enough so the dough doesn't dry out. (Alternatively, use olive oil to lightly coat the inside of the bowl; turn the dough to coat the surface.) Making sure there is room for the dough to at least double in size, cover the bowl with a plate. Let the dough rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
Step 4Sprinkle flour on a work surface. Divide the dough into quarters and form each piece into a tight, smooth ball, kneading it to push the air out. Place the dough balls on a lightly floured surface, cover them and let rise for 1 hour. Or rub olive oil on the surface of the balls to coat, place them on a cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight.