A ficelle is a type of French bread that is long and thin, like a thick bread stick, but still moist and spongy inside the crust. This type of bread loaf is about half the size of the typical French baguettes sold at grocery store bakeries. Ficelles can be as long as a standard baguette, but thinner, or they can be thinner and shorter than a typical baguette. Like the baguette, ficelle is generally made of white wheat flour. Most of the time, ficelle is eaten as a single serving. It can also be sliced and served as dipping bread or a base for appetizers.
This type of bread loaf is smaller and lighter than the familiar French bread baguette. What most people know as the standard baguette is called a Parisian-style baguette. There is also a larger type of baguette known as a flute. While large loaves are better for creating sandwiches, the small loaves are best for smaller portions for serving guests.
To make the dough used to make various types of French bread, including ficelles, baguettes, and flutes, activated yeast is mixed with flour, water, and salt and mixed into a sticky dough before it is risen, shaped, and baked. These baguettes are usually hand-shaped, but commercial baguettes can be made by a machine. French bread dough made with the basic ingredients is fat free, but some bakers also add butter to the mix.
Generally, a ficelle is about half the weight of a Parisian type of baguette. The longer, thinner ficelle loaves are called fine ficelles. These are the bread loaves most often used to make commercial croutons. When toasted, they make a useful cracker-like base for party snacks or bread-friendly dip. At parties, sliced toast can make an elegant appetizer to serve instead of chips, rolls, or crackers.
A simple dipping sauce for French breads can be created with salt and oil — usually olive, canola, or walnut oil — with droplets of balsamic vinegar spattered into the oil. This dip can have one oil, or it can be made from several oils mixed together to create a unique blended oil flavor. Chopped garlic or minced horseradish can be added to the dip for a bold bite. Seafood or vegetable dip, like crab or spinach dip, is also commonly served with slices of thin ficelle baguette.