Sweet Yeasted Roman Buns with Whipped Cream (Maritozzi)

May 20, 2015
7 Ratings
  • Makes 8 buns
Author Notes

There are various little tweaks and changes to the recipe for these sweet, small yeasted bun depending on where you look. Many Italian recipes specify baking for a very short period—6 or 7 minutes at most—in a very hot oven so that the buns retain their softness. But modern recipes call for baking in a moderate oven for 15 to 18 minutes, which I have found to be a bit more reliable (and they are still pillowy soft). Some include milk, some use just yolks, and most use a sponge (also known as a yeast starter). Although many of today's maritozzi are usually studded with just raisins, traditional recipes, such as the one from Roman cooking queen Ada Boni, also include pine nuts and candied orange peel. If you don't like candied fruit, use lemon or orange zest (or both) instead, fas Carol Field does in her maritozzi recipe in The Italian Baker. (She also has a great use for the water used for soaking the raisins: Add it to the yeast starter.)

You could also skip the glossy syrup top and simply dust with confectioners' sugar before serving. Either way, if you're going to do it properly, the best way to enjoy these is to split them open from the top, leaving the bun attached at the bottom like a hot dog bun and then filling them generously with freshly whipped cream. And your Roman breakfast is ready.

This recipe is inspired partly by Ada Boni's maritozzi recipe in Il Talismano della Felicita and partly by Carol Field's recipe in The Italian Baker. Neither specify the use of whipped cream in the buns, but it is the way you popularly find them in Roman cafés and it is undoubtedly the best way to enjoy them.

Note: You can double this recipe, but double all the ingredients except the yeast, i.e. you only need 25 grams of fresh yeast to make 16 of these buns. If you are using more than one tray to cook these, I recommend baking only one tray at a time and placing it in the middle of the oven. Also, for images on how to shape these buns, this blog post from Bread Cakes and Ale is perfect: —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • For the buns:
  • 0.8 ounces (25 grams) fresh yeast (or 7 grams or 1 teaspoon dry yeast)
  • 1/4 cup (about 60 ml) water
  • 1 2/3 cups (7 ounces or 200 grams) flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons (50 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (about 70 grams) raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then drained and pat dry
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon candied orange peel, finely chopped (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • For serving:
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Fresh cream, whipped to stiff peaks (you will need about 2 to 3 tablespoons per bun), optional
  1. In a wide bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside 10 minutes. Add 50 grams of the flour and combine to create a smooth paste. This is the yeast starter or sponge. Cover with a tea towel and let rest 15 to 20 minutes in a warm spot where it should create plenty of bubbles.
  2. Place the remaining 150 grams of flour into a large, wide bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast starter, egg, butter, sugar, and pinch of salt. Combine the ingredients by whisking with a fork from the center outwards, incorporating the flour bit by bit. You want a manageable but soft dough that's not too sticky or too dry (I read many accounts that said they needed to add more water to Ada Boni's recipe; I needed to add more flour). Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead until you have a very smooth, soft elastic ball of dough, about 8 minutes. You can also use a mixer for this procedure.
  3. Place the ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise/rest in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Carefully turn the ball onto a floured surface, flatten the ball into a rectangle and add the raisins, candied peel, pine nuts, and lemon and orange zests. Roll the dough from the short end. Flatten again and roll from another side. The raisins should be somewhat evenly distributed.
  5. Now divide the dough into 8 even balls (weigh them if you want to be precise and have them come out all the exact same size, roughly 2.5 to 2.8 ounces or 75 to 80 grams each). Rolling them into small oval shapes, place them one by one onto a baking sheet layered with baking paper, leaving plenty of room between each bun. Let them rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot away from drafts, covered with a tea towel.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350º F (180º C) and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until puffed and just golden on top and bottom. They should remain soft and fluffy inside.
  7. While they are baking, you can make a quick syrup by boiling 2 tablespoons of sugar in 2 tablespoons of water just until dissolved. Brush this syrup onto the hot buns and let the syrup dry and the buns cool completely before splitting open and filling with freshly whipped cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Christine Connor Williams
    Christine Connor Williams
  • Emiko
  • Splongo1
  • Marinam1

13 Reviews

Splongo1 July 10, 2022
These didn't rise at all. The measurements and weights also don't align in this recipe.

Rolling out the dough after the first rise pushes the gas out. Just put the zest in with the initial dry ingredients.

Really disappointed in how these turned out.
Marinam1 November 23, 2021
Thank you for this recipe! I’ve been looking for a true recipe that resembles the maritozzi I grew up with in Rome. I did add some diced citron and orange peel along with raisins; and using a bit of the raisin soaking water gently amps up the flavor. These freeze well and are lovely reheated slightly in the oven.
Blue B. May 13, 2021
Would almond flour mixed with all purpose flour mess up the recipe? :)
michele M. June 1, 2020
These are absolutely divine, just as written. Wonderful and Thank You!
dee G. April 26, 2020
Hi, wondering if it’s okay to use instant yeast? Wanting to make these and instant is what I have on hand.
Emiko April 27, 2020
Yes you can, it's already there in the ingredients list! Substitute with a teaspoon of instant dry yeast (7 grams). :)
dee G. April 27, 2020
Thank you. Very new to using yeast and didn’t realize dry = instant.
Martin B. November 5, 2017
Hi, is there a minor error in the ingredients? The total liquids/hydration looks very low. Maybe milk has been left out accidentally?
Emiko November 16, 2017
Hello, no actually this is correct as is written. The egg and butter will add some hydration and as I mention in the instructions, you may find you need to add a bit of extra water if you find your dough is too dry, but it will likely be minimal, maybe a few tablespoons. You can use milk instead of the water (or use the water the raisins were soaking in) but the measurements would be the same. Just to compare with the recipes that inspired this one, Ada Boni's original recipe is more or less like this one but with equivalent olive oil instead of butter and Carol Field's calls for 1/2 cup milk but for 500 grams (3 3/4 cups) of flour, which is more than double the amount of flour that is called for here. She suggests reserving 1/4 cup water (for her recipe; so that would be less than 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons for this) used for hydrating the raisins and you can use this when you need to add a bit of water to the dough, along with the rest of the flour.
Christine C. May 17, 2016
just checking - the whipped cream you fill it with is unsweetened?
Emiko May 17, 2016
Angie M. July 1, 2015
Do you use bread flour or plain
Emiko July 1, 2015
regular, all purpose flour is just fine :)