In a small bowl, mix the sugar and salt in the water, and then mix in the yeast. Let it rest for about 15 mins, or till the surface is covered in frothy yeast.
Add the oil to the mixture and stir it in to combine.
In a large bowl, add the flour and make a hole in the center. Add the liquid to the hole and gradually incorporate the flour till you have a sticky mass.
Oil your bench top with a little olive or vegetable oil, them knead the dough on the oiled surface until it forms into an elastic and smooth ball, which takes about 15 minutes. The dough should be elastic and slightly tacky but not so that it sticks to your hands.
Roll out the dough into a tube that’s about 5cm in diameter.
Slice the tube into 16 loafs. Lay each of the loafs on its cylindrical edge, not the face, on top of a square of parchment paper, and leave for about 20-30mins to rise (or till the surface has become slightly puffy).
Shape your buns - if at this time you wish to make filled buns, roll them into a circle, add the filling to the middle then pinch the sides together and give it a slight twist so it doesn’t come undone as it steams. Leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
Arrange the loafs in a steamer. They will expand quite a fair bit so try and leave about 3-5cm around each bun. Cover the steamer and steam over high heat for 15 minutes.
Immediately remove from the steamer and place on a plate to cool enough so they can be handled.