Lately I’ve been playing with different, fun ways to slash sourdough boules. One thing led to another, I found myself buying a Craftsy online lesson by Ciril Hitz called The Baker’s Guide to Artisan Bread Shaping.  One of the breads that caught my eye was The  Tabatière,  a classic French style bread (from the region of Jura), shaped to resemble a purse used to hold cigarettes. Talk about traditional bread baking, this is it.  I got so excited about this recipe that I pushed all other blog posts to the side to share it with you right away.

The formula of the bread is actually quite simple, you can use any dough you like, as long as it’s more on the firm side to stand the shaping. For instance, for two small loaves, mix about 1kg dough at 65% hydration.  Roughly that would be 600g flour (you can use a mixture of white with a touch of whole wheat or spelt), 390 g water, 12 g of salt, 3 g of  yeast. Once the bread goes through the bulk fermentation, preferably in the fridge, you can divide it in two, pre-shape them as a ball, then proceed with the final shaping.  You can also follow this recipe that calls for a pre-ferment instead, making a single Tabatiere with it instead of two. Again, the most important here is the hydration level to be kept more or less at 65%. 


Each ball more or less 500g of dough at 65% hydration. Any combination of flours you like.

Now place your rolling-pin on the top third of the dough, and roll it to form a flap. You want it to be large enough to cover the whole extension of the other 2/3 of the dough. That’s getting there, but not quite…

Yes, that’s more like it!

Once it’s the correct size, brush a little olive oil right on the edge, so that the flap will not glue to the ball of dough, and once in the oven, it will be more open.

This composite photo hopefully shows you how the whole process is done.

Once the little “purse” is shaped, let the bread rise for 90 minutes at room temperature. Next, give it a nice sprinkle of flour, rubbing it gently on the surface. And with a decisive frame of mind, but keeping in mind that you do not want to cut all the way through the flap you covered the bread with, slash it.  You can use any pattern you like, but this one is considered the most authentic. Slash from the bottom to the top.

There, the beauty is ready for the oven!

You can bake it in a covered Dutch oven with a moistened lid to generate steam, or use any other method you like.  I baked the two loaves at the same time, one using the Dutch oven, the other using a clay cloche from Emile Henry.  The outcome was quite different, as you can see below

The top one was baked in the clay cloche so the dusting of flour stayed nicely on the surface. The second loaf, under additional steam, had the flour pretty much baked into it, generating a darker crust.They are different, I have a hard time deciding which one I liked the most. It was good to know, though, that baking in the clay cloche worked quite well.

The “lip” of the purse could have lifted a little more, I suppose I should have stretched it thinner and maybe added a bit more olive oil, but overall I’m happy with the way it turned out.

The crumb is more on the tight side of the spectrum, as expected from a bread with low hydration level.  I am quite curious about the possibility of using a sourdough formula for the Tabatière; I might experiment with it in the near future.

I cannot recommend Craftsy classes highly enough.  This particular lesson from Ciril Hitz is simply outstanding!  From baguettes to very sophisticated bread shapes (Sun Dial is unreal), you will learn to bake them all. Clear instructions, pretty much in real-time. Brilliant!

If you are into bread baking, consider getting this online class. Worth every second. And no, I do not make a single penny from your purchase. As with everything else on my blog, I only recommend it if I absolutely love it.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


ONE YEAR AGO: Curry Turmeric Sourdough

TWO YEARs AGO: Brigadeiros de Morango

THREE YEARS AGO: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

FOUR YEARS AGO: Artichoke-Saffron Souffle

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cinnamon-Wreath

  Yeastspotting 11.11.11

 Oven-baked Risotto

  Potato-Roquefort Cakes with Ripe Pears














23 thoughts on “THE TABATIERE

    • I do! cannot believe you resisted and I did not… well, that’s not too surprising, I guess. I like it but it turns out that for some of my breads I am afraid it is too small and the bread could stick to the top – for the tabatiere it was perfect, through. I think I need to concentrate on slightly smaller boules to use my cloche more.


    • oh, you noticed the rolling pin? That was a fantastic find by Phil – he saw it at a garage sale years and years ago – it has a holder that he screwed to the side of our cabinet. I featured it years ago in a post, but honestly, I would not be able to retrieve the post… no idea even which year it was. But it is lovely – very smooth, and smaller than the classic one, so for my hands it’s perfect. As if it was made for me… sort of… 😉


  1. You are putting the “art” in artisan. Really a beautiful and appetizing result. The shaping technique was so interesting. I am guessing that your patience for such things must come from your profession — all of the step by step processes you do in the lab and the waiting and watching stuff that is required. Me, right now I’m on my way to the kitchen to pat and stretch out some No Knead Make Ahead pizza dough so I can get a couple in the oven when our neighbors arrive for dinner. You know, the opposite of what you did for this post.


    • Oh, you are funny…. I suppose you don’t know that patience is a virtue I do not have? Not a single nanogram of it – not that patience has mass, but let’s go with the analogy for the sake of it.. 😉

      no I don’t think this shaping needs patience – it’s actually pretty easy and straightforward – after watching the video I knew I wanted to make it myself. Now, petit-fours, that would be something else. Something else that is not happening in our kitchen anytime soon… 😉


Click here to comment, love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.