The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Elli's Sourdough Onion Ficelle

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

Elli's Sourdough Onion Ficelle

I'm wondering if anyone here has tried to approximate the sourdough ficelle baked by Eli's in New York.  I'm not sure it's ever been one of their more popular breads but since I was a little kid growing up blocks from Zabar's where Eli first sold his bread I've just loved these.  There were several variations over the years but finally it settled down to plain, onion, and salt.  I've never cared for the salt.  The onion variety is out of this world.  Very, very sour, like a San Francisco sourdough.  100% white flour, I think.  A very long, curiously flexible -- springy really -- very skinny bread with a surprisingly thick crust.  They don't keep long.

Having come to recognize my own limitations with very wet doughs after a few months of trying to get a Rubaud-like dough to make miches and boules that don't flatten, I am thinking I will try this style of bread as a little break.  Anyone want to give me some pointers to get me started?

One way or the other I will report back if I get any good results!

breadbythecreek's picture

I used to buy mine at the Korean market on 2nd Ave at 68th Street in the mid-80's.  I never made it home without the ends getting devoured.  In Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook, she has what she claims is Eli's Bread. It is a two stage sourdough starter with 50% bread flour, 50% rye, a little malt syrup and salt at about 50% hydration.  I think the rye makes the sour after two builds. I don't know if the book is still in print, but if you send me a message, I'll get the formula to you.