PREPARATIONIn a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand until slightly foamy on top, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl stir together the 2 3/4 cups flour and the salt and form into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture to the well. Using a fork and stirring in a circular motion, gradually pull the flour into the yeast mixture. Continue stirring until dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface with some of the 1/2 cup flour and transfer the dough to it. Using the heel of your hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.
Brush a large bowl with the oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, 1-2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with the remaining flour. Punch the dough down and, using your hand, begin to press it out gently into the desired shape. Then, place one hand in the center of the dough and, with the other hand, pull, lift and stretch the dough, gradually working your way all around the edge, until it is the desired thickness, about 1/4 inch thick for a crusty pizza base and 1/2 inch thick for a softer one. Flip the dough over from time to time as you work with it. The dough should be slightly thinner in the middle than at the edge. Lift the edge of the pizza to form a slight rim.
Transfer the dough to a baker's peel or baking sheet, cover with a cotton towel and let rise again until almost doubled, about 20 minutes. Top and bake as directed in the individual recipes.