Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast mixture, melted butter and sparkling water. Using a fork begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.
As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board, and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Heat 4 inches of olive oil in a deep pot to 350 degrees F.
Pull off 1/2 of the rested and risen dough, and with a rolling pin, roll it out to a rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. With a pizza wheel cut the dough into 4-inch squares. Fry them 3 at a time in the hot oil until puffed and golden brown on both sides. Transfer hot clouds to paper towels to drain for 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve warm with Italian cold cuts.
Recipe copyright 2001, Mario Batali. All Rights Reserved.