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.
Maritozzi Con La Panna - Roman Cream Buns
For the buns:
- 1 1/2 tsps instant yeast
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1 3/4 cups flour , plus more for dusting
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 50 gm butter , soft at room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 1/8 cup raisins , (soaked in 2 to 3 tbsp warm orange juice or water for 10 mins)
- 1 tbsp pine nuts , lightly toasted
- 1 1 tbsps zest of orange or candied orange peel , finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 3 tbsps sugar
- 3 tbsps water
- powdered suagr or icing sugar for dusting
For the filling:
- fresh cream , whipped to stiff peaks
- 500 ml icing sugar
- You can do this by hand or in a machine. Put the yeast, the warm milk, a teaspoon of the sugar and half a cup of the flour in a largish bowl and mix with a spoon to create a smooth paste. This is the starter or sponge. Loosely cover the bowl and set it aside for 20 to 30 minutes. After this time the starter/ sponge would have risen a bit and contain a lot of bubbles.
- Put this starter/ sponge, 1 cup of flour, the egg, the remaining sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of your processor and knead a little. Then add the raisins (with the liquid), the pine nuts, the orange zest and the vanilla and knead until you have a dough that is soft and smooth but not sticky. Add as much of the remaining 1/4 cup flour (or more liquid) as you need to reach this consistency of dough. If necessary stop kneading by machine once the dough has come together reasonably well, and then knead by hand till soft and elastic.
- Dust a little flour in a bowl, and place the ball of dough in it. Loosely cover and let it rise till double in volume (about 1 to 2 hours).
- Lightly knead the dough to remove air pockets and divide the dough into 6 or 8 equal portions, according to your preference. Roll each into a smooth ball and then flatten it out into a circle with your fingers. Roll up the circle, jelly/ Swiss roll style and seal the seam. Shape into an oval ad pace on a lined baking sheet leaving enough space between the rolls for them to expand when they rise.
- Loosely cover and let them rise for about 30 minute. Bake them 180C (350F) for 15 to 20 minutes or till they're puffed up and a golden brown colour on the top and the bottom. Don't over bake or the bottoms will darken/ burn and the buns will lose their softness.
- If you're going to brush the buns with the sugar syrup, make it while they're baking, Boil the sugar and water together in a small pan, until the sugar dissolves. Brush this syrup on the tops of the hot buns once you've taken them out of the oven.
- Let the buns cool completely. Then slit them, using a sharp knife, making sure you don't cut all the way through and keep one side intact. Open them up slightly (don't let the two parts of the bun separate) and fill with whipped cream, making the edge smooth the flat side of a palette knife or spoon. Moisten your fingers with a little water and hold each Maritozzo carefully at its base, to avoid the sugar glaze sticking to your fingers and pulling pieces of the brioche away.
- Serve with coffee for breakfast or as a snack.