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May 8, 2018

Seeded Ficelle Bread

Ficelle bread is kind of a cross between a breadstick and a baguette. The word ficelle means "string" in French, and typical loaves are very long and skinny. For a crust lover, the beauty of the ficelle is that the you get much higher ratio of crust to crumb. There 's just the right ratio of soft bread interior and plenty of chewy crust.

Three Seeded Ficelle Loaves

You can make ficelle with or without seeds. I went all out on the seeds, covering the loaves all over with a layer of sesame, flax, sunflower, caraway, poppy, and anise seeds. I've also made these with a combination of poppy, sesame, and fennel seeds.

I made these ficelles three times in a row, working on a quest to get pretty and symmetrical slashes. I tried to do three 4-inch angled slashes, but they really didn't show up in any distinctive way. There were hints.... nevertheless, I'm going to quit whining because these were totally delicious. That's the thing about bread baking. Next time I'm trying one long slash down the middle of the loaf.

The beauty of these skinny loaves is that you can eat them right away! None of that waiting for the bread to cool before slathering it with butter and eating it. Because the ficelle loaves are so skinny, you don't have to worry about them finish baking once you take them out of the oven.

Seeded Ficelle Bread cut in half and stacked

You can slice ficelle into crostini for topping or dipping, or you can slice it lengthwise to make sandwiches. A sweet friend, who happens to be an avocado farmer, gifted me with a generous bag of California avocados, so I've been enjoying this bread sliced lengthwise for avocado toast. How California is that?

Seeded Ficelle Bread cut lengthwise

The dough for these loaves is 80 percent hydration, and super sticky to work with. When handling it, I sprayed my hands with spray oil to prevent sticking while performing the "stretch-and-folds," and while shaping the final loaves.

Recommended tools for making ficelle: 

  1. Plastic dough scrapers for dividing and moving the dough pieces. 
  2. A linen couche for proofing the loaves. It's a heavy linen cloth that does a great job in helping the ficelles hold their shape. If you don't have one, you can use a floured cloth. I'm such a geek that I keep mine in the freezer folded in a plastic bag between bakes. 
  3. A baking stone. If you like making bread and pizza, a rectangular stone is worth the investment. 
  4. Pre-cut parchment paper. Unless you are the master of the pizza peel, baking your loaves (and pizza too) on parchment will ensure that your loaves don't get all bendy when transporting them to the oven. I highly recommend the pre-cut sheets sold by King Arthur Flour. 
  5. While not necessary, I also recommend a short flipping board for transporting the loaf from the couche to the peel (you can make one out of cardboard if you don't have a wooden one). You roll the long narrow loaf onto the flipping board, and then roll it onto the parchment lined peel (see below left). 
  6. Finally, stacked 14 by 16 inch foil pans are excellent for trapping steam for the first few minutes of baking (below right). 

This recipe also calls for optional diastatic malt powder to help with the browning during the short baking time. You can skip this ingredient if you don't have any. 

After the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the breads with seeds. Many thanks to our host Mayuri of Mayuri's Jikoni

Yield: 4 loaves

Seeded Ficelle Bread


  • 10 ounces (283 grams) (2 cups) King Arthur Flour unbleached all purpose flour (or any brand of unbleached bread flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) room temperature water
  • 7 tablespoons mixture of seeds such as sesame, poppy, flax, fennel, sunflower, black caraway, poppy, and/or anise


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, yeast, and malt powder. Using the dough hook on low speed, slowly add the water. When a shaggy dough forms, stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Turn the mixer back on, and mix for about 5 minutes on low. 
  2. Scrape the dough into an oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. 
  3. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes and then stretch and fold the dough over itself 8 times, rotating the container a quarter turn after each stretch and fold. Re-cover the container, and let rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the "stretch-and-fold" every 30 minutes three more times. After the final set of stretch-and-folds, cover the container with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for 16 to 48 hours. 
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Stretch it into an eight inch square. Divide the dough into four squares and cover each loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Let rest about 30 to 60 minutes, until no longer cold. 
  5. Roll each piece of dough into a 4 inch cylinder on a lightly floured work surface. Cover each with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes. With a baking stone set on the lower middle rack, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. 
  6. Spread the seed mixture evenly in a rimmed baking sheet. Spray the underside of a couche or linen with water, and drape it over a rimmed baking sheet. Dust it with flour (I use a mixture of wheat and rice flour). 
  7. Gently press one of the dough pieces into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle, fold the upper 6 inch side toward the middle and press and seal. Fold the bottom 6 inch side toward the middle and seal. You should have an 8 inch by 2 inch rectangle. 
  8. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges together with your thumb. Pinch the seal together. 
  9. Beginning in the middle of the dough, roll the dough out with your hands, moving them gently back and forth, to form a 15 inch long by 1 inch wide cylinder. Roll your hands back and forth over the ends of the dough to form pointy ends. 
  10. Spray the cylinder with water, and roll it in the seed mixture. Transfer the seeded loaf, seam side up, to the couche and pull up the fabric on either side of the loaf into a pleat to create a cradle. Repeat with the other three dough pieces. Fold the ends of the couche over the loaves and enclose the baking sheet in a large plastic bag. Let rise for 30 minutes. 
  11. Line a pizza peel horizontally with parchment paper. Unfold the couche and gently transfer each loaf with a flipping board, seam side down, to the parchment lined pizza peel. Make sure each loaf is evenly spaced apart. Slash the loaves with 3 four inch slashes on an angle along the length of the dough, or one long slash down the middle of the dough. 
  12. Carefully slide the parchment with the loaves onto the baking stone, and cover with two stacked 14 inch by 16 inch foil baking pans. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pans and bake for another 10 minutes, until browned. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to
Seeded Ficelle Bread #baguettes

Would you like to comment?

  1. Sadly, I discovered that braces and baguettes (with or without seeds) are not a good combination... very very sad

    but time will pass and I tell you the first thing I will sink my brace-less teeth into is PIZZA! And baguettes... with a huge coating of seeds!


    great recipe, Karen!

    1. I should have mentioned that even without braces, you should check your teeth after eating for seeds. I learned the hard way and no one told me.

    2. indeed... PHil once had a huge problem after eating popcorn - those things can cause damage!

  2. These ficelle breads look so crusty and porous Karen!

  3. Oh boy, I could get in trouble if I baked a batch of these beauties. I could probably eat a dozen of them in one sitting. Lovely breads.

    1. Thanks Eileen! They are hard to resist.

  4. At first look I thought you have made this from sourdough starter...The bread looks simply yum, any time for this seeded ficelle bread.

    1. Thank you. I think the long first rise helps with the texture and flavor.

  5. Beautifully made ficelle breads. Love that perfectly golden crust and that amazing crust. It sounds just perfect in avocado toast -- yummm!!

  6. These are perfect for those who, like me, are addicted to chewy bread crust.

  7. Beautiful ficelle breads and love the liberal usage of seeds. The only upmarket bakery cum restaurant in Mombasa sells them and I didn't know what they were called. Now I do. You're right it has so much more of the chewy crust.

    1. Thanks Mayuri! Thanks for the great theme.

  8. OMG! These are totally new to me but boy I am in love. Awesome.


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