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
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 so just go ahead and use a small spatula to fill in the cream.
Watch this video to have an idea how Maritozzi are made
All purpose flour / maida ... 2 cups
Instant yeast .... 1 and 1/2 tsps
Warm milk ..... 1/4 cup
Eggs ........... 1
Sugar ........ 1/4 cup
Butter ...... 50 gms (room tempereature)
Salt ......... 1/8 tsp
Raisins ..... 1/4 cup
Pine nuts ... 1 tbsp (lightly roasted)
Lemon zest ... grated from one lemon (you can also use orange zest )
Candied lemon peel .... 1 tbsp finely chopped ( you can also use candied orange peel)
For the Filling:
500ml fresh cream, whipped to stiff peaks with a few teaspoons of icing sugar
(you will need about 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream per bun)
However it is optional.
Take warm water about quarter cup and add 1 tsp sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and leave it in a warm place to become frothy.
Roast the pine nuts lightly.
Cut the candied lemon peel into small pieces
Take the flour in a large bowl. and add the lemon zest and sugar.
Make a well in the center and break the egg.
Add the pine nuts, raisins and candied peel.
Mix everything and start kneading with yeast and warm milk. Use as much milk as needed. Incorporate the butter little by little while kneading.
Knead the dough until it is soft and elastic.
Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a foil paper.
Leave it in a warm place for 2-3 hours or until it rises to double. (it may take longer in winter)
Now remove the dough and knead lightly to remove the air pockets.
Roll it into a thick cylindical shape.
Divide the dough into 6 or 8 portions depending on the size you want.
Flatten each portion and roll it up gathering the edges on the lower side. Pinch to seal them.
Place the pinched side on the bottom in a greased baking tray. You can brush them with egg white or milk. Leave enough space between the buns for them to expand when they rise.
Loosely cover the tray and let the buns rise to double the size.
Bake them in a pre-heated oven for 350 degrees F for about 18 to 20 minutes. Do not over bake them.
Let them cool. Sift the icing sugar on top while they are still warm.
: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.
Recipe and information - courtesy Aparna Balasubramanian - We knead to Bake # 28
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