“The whipped cream-filled brioche that no Roman can renounce.”
This bold declaration greeted us on a giant sign hung on the wall in the pasticceria, directly across from the enormous glass pastry case filled with delectable Italian pastries. We were at Eataly Roma, the high-end, all-Italian food emporium located in the formerly abandoned, space-age looking Air Terminal building near the Ostiense train station.
Eataly combines the high quality and authenticity that small neighborhood Italian food shops and eateries are known for, with the convenience and scale of modern mega-stores. Occupying tens of thousands of square meters over multiple floors, each Eataly boasts a wine store, a beer garden, a pastry shop, a gelateria and several restaurants along with fish, meat and vegetable markets and a grocery store with everything that one might need.
Since we were in Rome, Eataly’s pasticceria featured the traditional roman pastry maritozzo con la panna, perfectly executed by guest pasticcere Luca Montersino, Italy’s most famous celebrity pastry chef.
Maritozzi are fragrant, sweet-dough buns sliced in half and stuffed with smooth, fresh whipped cream. They are a staple in Rome’s pasticcerie, and commonly found during the breakfast hours in coffee bars around the Eternal City. When Stefano was a little boy, on special occasions his parents would bring maritozzi con la panna home from their favorite neighborhood pastry shop. Sometimes, when Stefano joined his father Andrea for a morning caffè at the bar, Andrea would let him have a maritozzo.
Some traditional Roman maritozzi recipes call for sultans, pine nuts and candied orange peel. We prefer a simple sweet dough recipe with only orange zest providing a mild citrus flavor, just like those that Stefano recalls from his childhood.
- Flour, 250 grams (1 and ¾ cup) plus extra for kneading.
- Sugar, 50 grams (1/4 cup)
- Salt, 1 pinch
- Water, 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm
- Active Dry Yeast, 6 grams (2 tsp.)
- Malted Milk, 1 heaping teaspoon (or substitute honey)
- Butter, 40 grams (3 Tbsp), softened and cubed
- Egg, 1, yolk separated from the white
- Zest of one orange
- Water, 50 ml (1/2 cup)
- Sugar, 75 grams (3/8 cup)
- Heavy Whipping Cream, 500 ml (2 cups)
- Sugar, 5o grams (1/4 cup)
- Stir the yeast in the warm (not hot) water until dissolved. Add the malted milk and stir until dissolved. Set aside. Measure the flour, sugar and salt into a medium bowl. Stir together. Form a well in the center and add the butter, egg yolk and orange zest. Slowly add the liquid, mixing with a fork to gradually incorporate the flour mixture from the inside out.
- When all of the liquid has been added and the dry mixture incorporated, remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a smooth, lightly floured surface. Knead gently for 5 minutes until it forms a smooth, round ball.
- Sprinkle a bit of flour inside a smaller bowl, place the dough inside and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm location for at least 2 hours.
- After two hours, add a sprinkle of flour to your work surface and turn your dough back out onto it. Divide your dough into 6 equal small, oval (or football shaped) buns. We used our food scale to ensure that they were equal sized. Place the buns onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Beat the egg white lightly with a fork. Uncover the buns and reshape into ovals if needed. Use a pastry brush to Carefully brush the buns with egg white. Cover once again with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour more.
- Bake at 180º C, 350º F for approximately 20 minutes, until the maritozzi are a deep golden brown on top.
- While the maritozzi are baking, prepare the sugar glaze. Heat water until almost a boil, and then turn off the heat. Add the sugar and let dissolve, stirring just once or twice. Let cool.
- When the maritozzi are done, remove them from the oven and while still hot, brush them with the sugar glaze. Let cool.
- While the maritozzi are cooling, whip the cream together with the sugar to firm peaks.
- When the maritozzi are completely cool, slice into them diagonally without cutting all the way through. If helpful, moisten your fingers and hold each maritozzo carefully at its base, to avoid the sugar glaze sticking to your fingers and pulling pieces of the brioche away.
- Using a pastry spatula, open up the “mouth” of each maritozzo and fill it with whipped cream, using the spatula to create a smooth edge, and a moistened paper towel to wipe away any extra whipped cream.
- Enjoy as a decadent, Roman-style breakfast or with your afternoon espresso as a special treat.