Early this month, Nivedita who is a good friend and one of the members of the “We Knead To Bake” came across a recipe for Maritozzi or Roman Cream Buns at Food 52 and suggested that we might bake them sometime. Having not quite worked on a bread for us to bake this month I thought we could do it right away, and that is how we settled on baking Maritozzi for this month.
Then Finla another WKTB-er who is also a very good friend of mine, found that recipe wasn’t consistent with its weight measurements and equivalent volume measurements. Since we have bakers who mostly work with volume based measurements (including me) I sat down, looked at quite a few recipes on the net and came up with a workable recipe.
I had never heard of Maritozzi till this month. When I went looking for more information on them, I discovered that Maritozzi (singular Maritozzo) are orange flavoured soft sweet buns, which are split and filled with smooth whipped cream. Apparently, these buns are popular during the breakfast hours in coffee bars in and around Rome and in the afternoon with a coffee or liqueur. However, you will find them being sold and eaten throughout the day.
A pastry typical of the Lazio region of Italy, the pine nut and raisin dotted Maritozzi are supposedly a Lenten bread from the Middle Ages. It seems this was the only sweet thing they allowed themselves during the period of religious fasting. Some regions of Italy still make these buns during Lent as slightly larger loaves without the cream and these are called Maritozzi Quaresimali (Roman Lent Buns)
The story goes that Maritozzi got their name from the Italian word for marriage which is “marito”. One version says that according to local custom, Maritozzi were prepared by young women in Lazio who would bring them to the village piazza with hopes of attracting the attention of future husbands. Another version contends that it was the men of Lazio who gifted these pastries to their fiancées, baked in the shape of a heart, as a proof of love.
The Maritozzi dough is essentially slightly enriched brioche dough, and traditionally is flavoured with pine nuts, raisins and candied orange peel. Once they’re baked, the buns are brushed with a sweet water and sugar syrup or else dusted with powdered sugar. After they have cooled, the Maritozzi are cut in half (almost through but not all the way) and filled with loads of smooth sweetened whipped cream. This video demonstrates quite well how Maritozzi are made
If you prefer you can leave out the sweet glaze and just lightly dust the Maritozzi with powdered sugar, which is what I did. Then serve them with or without cream, as you prefer. You might find Maritozzi with very prettily piped cream but the real thing is a rustic treat and not really meant to be pretty (see this video to see what I mean), so just go ahead and use a small spatula to fill in the cream.