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- What are Maritozzi?
- What makes these Sourdough Maritozzi so soft and fluffy?
- Tools Needed for Sourdough Maritozzi
- Ingredients Needed for Sourdough Maritozzi
- 👨🍳 How to Make Sourdough Maritozzi
- 1. Build the Sweet Levain
- 2. Make Yudane
- 3. Mix the Dough
- 4. Add Butter & Mix
- 5. Bulk Fermentation
- 6. Overnight Proof
- 7. Divide and Shape the Maritozzi
- 8. Final Proof
- 9. Bake
- 10. Make Vanilla Whipped Cream
- 11. Slice and Assemble the Maritozzi
- How to Eat Maritozzi
- Other Maritozzi Fillings and Toppings
- Sourdough Maritozzi FAQs:
- Sourdough Maritozzi (Italian Sweet Buns)
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Last Updated on November 21, 2023
These Sourdough Maritozzi made with a soft brioche bun and filled with a simple whipped cream are sublime.
Maritozzi are somewhat obscure outside of Rome and some specialty Italian bakeries in the U.S.; however, their popularity continues to grow. Their Pac-man shape and cloudlike appearance exude a whimsical nature that’s hard not to overlook in a lineup of pastries.
Maritozzi haven’t had their moment to join the pantheon of celebrated Italian pastries like cannoli and biscotti in American cafes and bakeries yet, but I have a feeling they’ll be just as ubiquitous in coming years!
The sourdough brioche buns are easy enough to make using a sweet sourdough starter (levain). For assembly, the simple buttery brioche bun is cut in half, filled with vanilla whipped cream, and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
The result is an elegant, not-too-sweet treat that’s light, fluffy, and can be eaten as dessert or at breakfast as they do in Rome. And when in Rome…
What are Maritozzi?
Maritozzi are Italian sweet buns, typically filled with whipped cream. Maritozzo is the singular for one bun. With cream, the buns are often called “maritozzi con la panna.”
The name “maritozzo” comes from the Italian word for husband, “marito.” Men would propose to their future wives with engagement rings stuffed in the center of the buns.
Nowadays, maritozzi are still popular desserts on Valentine’s Day or as sweet gifts, but are generally consumed at breakfast with coffee.
You can make maritozzi in many ways, such as brushing on a sugar syrup, filling them with jam or mascarpone, or incorporating raisins, pine nuts, or candied orange peel in the dough. However, this maritozzi recipe opts for simplicity, so you can modify it however you prefer!
Finally, maritozzi are similar to Devonshire Splits, which were a featured technical challenge in the Great British Baking Show. Devonshire splits are often made with clotted cream, jam, or fruit.
What makes these Sourdough Maritozzi so soft and fluffy?
These maritozzi buns are a slightly less buttery version of my incredibly soft Sourdough Brioche Bread.
This foundational brioche recipe is the base for many rolls, buns, and desserts because it is versatile, straightforward, and adaptable.
Firstly, I use the yudane method (similar but more manageable than tangzhong) to help the buns rise tall and have a soft pull-apart texture. This method works because the gelatinized starch absorbs more water. The higher hydration creates more steam, which helps the buns rise taller.
Secondly, brioche dough is highly enriched with eggs and butter to create the softest brioche buns. Use room temperature butter during mixing so the butter is essentially whipped into the dough. These buns use slightly less butter than my brioche loaf to make them easier to shape.
Finally, the buns are made using high-protein bread flour. Because the dough is so enriched, brioche is best made with high-protein bread flour mixed for a long time to develop gluten. The gluten strands create a more elastic, chewy bread.
Once baked, the maritozzi buns have a soft crumb, springy and chewy texture, and buttery flavor. Lastly, the orange zest balances it all out to bring a hint of brightness to the buns.
Tools Needed for Sourdough Maritozzi
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
This sourdough maritozzi recipe makes nine buns that bake perfectly on one half-sheet baking pan (13×18″). These aluminum baking sheets from Nordic Ware are my favorite!
I always list ingredients by weight in grams because it is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. Use a scale, and your baking will immediately be better!
I love my Escali baking scale and use it every day. The batteries last a long time, the scale is accurate, and it comes in many colors.
Additionally, I use the scale to weigh the rolls evenly once divided.
Stand Mixer (preferred, but can mix by hand)
A stand mixer is not 100% necessary to make these, but is preferred over mixing by hand.
Since these highly enriched rolls contain ingredients like eggs and butter, mixing with a stand mixer is easier to develop enough gluten.
Conversely, if you mix by hand, you may need to mix for about double the amount of time.
Ingredients Needed for Sourdough Maritozzi
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
King Arthur Bread Flour has a high-protein content and is the type I use for most recipes since it’s high-quality and widely available.
Moreover, I like bread flour for maritozzi since it helps the buns rise taller and have a chewier texture. However, you can use all-purpose flour too.
To reduce sourness in the buns, I make a sweet levain by adding a few grams of granulated sugar to the sourdough starter.
The small amount of sugar will suppress some of the acidity of the starter, but you’ll still get incredibly flavorful buns due to their long fermentation.
Heavy Whipping Cream
The filling for maritozzi is so easy to make! Heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and extra vanilla are the only ingredients for the filling.
Heavy cream and whipping cream are essentially the same, so you can use either interchangeably.
Have mascarpone? Add some to the whipped cream for an even smoother, more decadent filling.
You could add a couple of tablespoons of malted milk powder to the whipped cream to give a little umami to the cream.
- Granulated sugar
- Orange zest (or lemon zest)
- Sea Salt
- Whole milk (room temperature)
- Eggs (room temperature)
- Unsalted butter (room temperature)
- Confectioner’s Sugar (powdered sugar)
- Vanilla extract
👨🍳 How to Make Sourdough Maritozzi
Follow this visual and detailed guide to help you make the best Sourdough Maritozzi.
1. Build the Sweet Levain
Set aside 85 grams of unsalted butter (6 TBS), 2 eggs, and 59 grams of whole milk to come to room temperature.
In an empty pint-sized jar, mix:
- 40 grams of active sourdough starter
- 40 grams of bread flour
- 6 grams of granulated sugar
- 40 grams of water
Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until it doubles, is bubbly, and ripe.
Note: Please refer to my guide on How To Make A Sourdough Starter if you do not have an active sourdough starter.
Learn the difference between a starter and a levain here.
See my Top 10 Sourdough Starter Tips for Success for extra tips to make a more robust sourdough starter.
2. Make Yudane
Make the yudane right after you make the levain (or at least 5 hours before you make the dough).
Place 58 grams of bread flour in a small, heatproof bowl.
Boil 58 grams of water in a tea kettle or on a stovetop. Immediately pour the boiling water on top of the flour.
With a silicone spatula, immediately mix the flour and boiling water until the flour is gelatinized, thoroughly mixed, and forms a thick paste.
Cover and let the yudane cool until your levain is ripe. It’s that easy!
3. Mix the Dough
Once the levain ripens, add the following ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment:
- 220 grams of bread flour
- 27 grams of granulated sugar
- 5 grams of sea salt
- 59 grams of whole milk, room temperature
- All of the ripe sweet levain
- All of the cooled yudane
- Two eggs, room temperature
- One TBSP of finely grated orange zest (or lemon)
On low speed, begin to mix the dough.
Mix for a few minutes to incorporate the flour. The dough will still be very rough and shaggy. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rest for ten minutes. This rest will help relax some of the gluten and hydrate the flour.
After the rest, mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes more cohesive.
4. Add Butter & Mix
Slice the 85 grams (6 TBS) of room-temperature unsalted butter into six tablespoon-sized pieces.
Add one tablespoon of butter at a time into the mixer on medium speed until it is fully incorporated (30 seconds to a minute). Repeat with the remaining butter.
After adding all of the butter, continue mixing the dough for at least five more minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test. The dough should be silky smooth and slide off of the dough hook.
Note: If your butter is too warm, it will not mix into the dough and will remain greasy. Refrigerate it for a few minutes to harden up. Conversely, if the butter takes too long to incorporate and is too cold, zap it in the microwave at half-power for 10-second intervals.
5. Bulk Fermentation
Transfer the dough to a medium mixing bowl, gather it into a round, cover it, and place it in a warm location to proof.
Note: My Brød & Taylor proofer works perfectly to keep the dough at a consistent temperature. Similarly, an instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen is a great tool to check your dough temperature throughout bulk fermentation.
At 78ºF, bulk fermentation (first proof) takes about 4 to 4.5 hours total.
If your dough and environment are colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. Contrarily, in warmer conditions, bulk fermentation will be faster.
After one hour, perform one stretch and fold on the dough. This dough benefits from the additional strength a simple stretch and fold provides.
To stretch and fold:
- Use your hand as pincers to pull up a portion of the dough.
- Lift the dough to stretch it, then fold it down in the middle of the bowl.
- Rotate the bowl 90º and repeat this motion three more times.
Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough doubles, domes in the bowl, and visible bubbles are on top of and around the dough.
Note: See my Bulk Fermentation 101 guide for a detailed analysis and more clues on how to know bulk fermentation is complete.
6. Overnight Proof
Cover the bowl and place it into a refrigerator to proof overnight, 8-12 hours.
Note: Proofing this dough overnight in the refrigerator adds a more complex flavor. Furthermore, the cold dough is easier to divide and shape. It also allows you to bake the rolls at a later time according to your own schedule.
However, if you want to skip the overnight proof, you can. Move on to dividing and shaping your buns next, and cut the final proof time down to 2-3 hours or until ready to bake.
7. Divide and Shape the Maritozzi
Prep the Baking Sheet
Place a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on the half-sheet pan.
Divide the Dough
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. It will be hardened up from the cold fat, but it should be easy to remove from the bowl. Use a bowl scraper to scrape any remaining sticky bits and place them on top of the dough.
Next, weigh the entire dough on a baking scale. Divide the weight by 10. Each of your buns should weigh this amount. Mine typically weigh about 65-70 grams each.
Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into ten equal pieces.
How to Shape Maritozzi
Shaping maritozzi is easy and doesn’t require special equipment or much technique. The dough is very buttery at this stage, so lightly flour your surface area and hands. Cold dough shapes more easily.
- Press one piece of dough into a flat rectangle or square on a lightly floured surface.
- Pinch the four corners of the dough into the center to create a small dumpling-like ball.
- Turn the ball over and roll it on a lightly floured surface to create surface tension until the dough comes together into a perfect sphere.
- Repeat with the remaining buns.
Evenly space the rolls on the baking sheet.
8. Final Proof
Cover the pan with a piece of plastic wrap and place it in a warm location for the final proof (second rise). I cover mine with these plastic-proofing bags that fit a baking sheet and can be reused.
As the buns rise, they will stick to the plastic wrap, so it’s helpful to lightly spray the wrap with oil.
Since the buns don’t fit in my bread proofer, I proof them in the oven with the light on. I also keep a digital thermometer by them to watch the temperature.
At 78ºF, the final proof takes about 4-4.5 hours. The buns are finished proofing when they’ve doubled in size, feel full of air, and pass the finger poke test.
To finger poke test: First, poke a bun with a floured finger. They’re properly proofed when the dough leaves a slight indentation that slowly fills in. If the dough springs back immediately, they are under-proofed and need more time.
Near the end of proofing, preheat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
Make an egg wash by whisking one egg and a splash of water in a small bowl.
Once the oven is preheated, use a pastry brush to delicately brush the egg wash on the buns. The buns are very delicate at this stage, so be gentle as you brush them. The egg wash will help the buns brown and impart a shiny, golden crust.
Bake the maritozzi buns for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the internal temperature of the rolls reads 200ºF (93ºC).
Cool on a wire rack completely.
Note: If you want even more shine to your rolls, brush the buns with some simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) while still hot!
10. Make Vanilla Whipped Cream
This whipped cream is extremely simple and classic to make. You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a hand whisk if you want an arm workout.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together the following until stiff peaks form:
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 3 TBS of confectioner’s/powdered sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Stiff peaks in whipped cream form when upright peaks appear on the end of the whisk and there are distinct, clear trails in the cream. You want this cream to be whipped to stiff peaks so it can be easily transferred into the maritozzi.
Note: For a thicker, luxurious whipped cream, cut the heavy whipping cream in half and add a ½ cup of mascarpone.
Furthermore, you could add a couple of tablespoons of malted milk powder, orange or lemon extract, a touch of rose or orange blossom water, or some cocoa powder for a chocolate maritozzi.
11. Slice and Assemble the Maritozzi
When the buns are completely cool and just before consuming, assemble the maritozzi.
Use a serrated knife to slice the maritozzi buns vertically, almost in half. Don’t cut through the entire bun, as you want to keep the base intact. You should end up with a Pac-Man-like bun.
Note: You can also slice the buns diagonally, but I find the whipped cream leaks out if not consumed immediately.
Open the buns and use a piping bag or a spoon to fill the bun openings with 2-3 TBS of whipped cream. Make the cream flush with the buns by using an offset spatula or butter knife.
Clean up the edges of the whipped cream to tidy the maritozzi.
Finally, dust with powdered sugar and buon appetito!
How to Eat Maritozzi
I will admit that eating a maritozzo can get a little messy!
You can slice the maritozzi in half with a knife and eat with a fork, but they’re best eaten with your hands like a hot dog. So, grab a napkin!
Maritozzi are often consumed at breakfast in Rome, but can be eaten as a snack or afternoon treat. They’re an entertaining treat served to guests, and I like to slice and fill them individually or have guests fill their own (even better).
Filling them right before serving prevents the buns from drying out and the whipped cream from leaking.
Other Maritozzi Fillings and Toppings
Vanilla, lightly sweetened whipped cream is the most common filling for maritozzi, but you can make maritozzi with various flavors.
Fruit: Fill the maritozzi with a few pieces of sliced fresh fruit like strawberries, or add a tablespoon of your favorite jam. Stuff with whipped cream. Dust with ground or powdered dried fruit like dehydrated raspberries.
Chocolate: Add 2 TBS cocoa powder to the whipped cream to make a chocolate whipped cream filling and top the maritozzi with chocolate shavings.
Coffee: Include two teaspoons of instant espresso powder to the heavy whipping cream and dust with finely ground coffee or a complimentary spice like cinnamon or allspice.
Sourdough Maritozzi FAQs:
Can you double this recipe?
Yes. It’s easy to double this recipe to make 18 maritozzi. Halving will be more challenging to mix in a stand mixer due to the low amounts, so I would not recommend halving the recipe.
Can I use sourdough discard to make maritozzi?
An active and ripe sourdough starter is always recommended in yeasted recipes like maritozzi because it is the primary leavening agent. Sourdough discard is overly acidic and has lost most of its leavening power. Thus, discard will compromise the structure and flavor of these buns.
What other flavors or toppings can I add to maritozzi?
While vanilla whipped cream is most traditional, maritozzi can have many flavors and garnishes!
A dusting of matcha powder, ground dried rose petals, or powdered dried raspberry or strawberry always looks elegant.
You can also fill the buns with your favorite jam, fresh fruit, or top with chocolate shavings.
Do I have to use a sweet levain?
No, but if your sourdough starter is acidic and leaves a very sour flavor in most of your baked goods, then you may want to. Otherwise, you can use about 120 grams of sourdough starter in this recipe.
How do you store maritozzi?
Maritozzi are best served and eaten immediately once filled with whipped cream. However, the buns can be frozen for months in advance and thawed before serving.
Sourdough Maritozzi (Italian Sweet Buns)
- 58 grams Bread Flour
- 58 grams Boiling Water
- Build the Sweet Levain:In a clean jar, mix the sourdough starter, bread flour, sugar, and water.Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until it is at least doubled, bubbly, and ripe.Set aside the unsalted butter, eggs, and whole milk to come to room temperature.40 grams Sourdough Starter, 40 grams Bread Flour, 40 grams Water, 59 grams Whole Milk, 2 Eggs, 85 grams Unsalted Butter, 6 grams Granulated Sugar
- Make Yudane:Immediately after making the levain, make the yudane. Place the bread flour in a small, heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water on top of the flour.With a silicone spatula, mix together the flour and boiling water until the flour is gelatinized and forms a thick paste.Cover and let it cool until your levain is ripe.58 grams Bread Flour, 58 grams Boiling Water
- Mix the Dough:Once the levain is ripe, pour all of the dough ingredients except the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with the bread hook attachment.Mix on low speed for a few minutes until the flour is incorporated and the dough is rough and shaggy. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes until the dough becomes more cohesive.220 grams Bread Flour, 27 grams Granulated Sugar, 5 grams Sea Salt, 1 TBS Orange Zest, Sweet Levain, Yudane, 59 grams Whole Milk, 2 Eggs
- Add the Butter and Mix:Slice the room-temperature butter into six tablespoon-sized pieces. Continuing to mix the dough on medium speed, add one tablespoon of butter to the bowl at a time until it is fully incorporated into the dough. Repeat with the remaining pieces of butter (about 10 minutes in total).Continue to mix the dough for at least five more minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test, is silky smooth, and easily slides off the dough hook.85 grams Unsalted Butter
- Bulk Fermentation:Transfer the dough to a medium bowl, gather it into a round, cover it, and place it in a warm location to proof. At 78ºF, bulk fermentation takes 4-5 hours.After one hour, perform one stretch and fold on the dough. Rest for the remainder of bulk fermentation.Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough is doubled, domed in the bowl, and there are visible bubbles on top of and around the dough.
- Overnight Proof:Cover the bowl and place it into a refrigerator to proof overnight, 8-12 hours.
- Divide and Shape the Maritozzi:The next day, place a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a half-sheet pan.Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bowl, weigh it, and divide the weight by 10. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 10 equal-sized pieces (mine typically are about 65-70 grams each).Lightly flour a surface and press one piece of divided dough into a flat square. Pinch the four corners of the dough into the center of the square like a dumpling. Turn it over and use a hand to quickly roll it on the surface to create tension into a sphere shape.Repeat with the remaining buns. Space the 10 buns evenly on the baking sheet.
- Final Proof:Cover the baking sheet and place the buns in a warm location for the final proof.At 78ºF, the final proof takes about 4.5 hours. The maritozzi are finished proofing when they've doubled in size. If you poke the rolls with a floured finger, they should leave a slight indentation and feel full of air.
- Bake:Near the end of proofing, preheat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).Make the egg wash by whisking one egg and a splash of water in a small bowl. Brush a light egg wash onto the buns.Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the internal temperature reads 200ºF (93ºC).Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Make Whipped Cream:Just before serving, make the whipped cream.Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy whipping cream on medium speed until stiff peaks start to form, a few minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract to the whipped cream and whip briefly until combined.1 cup Heavy Cream, 3 TBS Powdered Sugar, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Assemble the Maritozzi:Assemble the maritozzi just before serving.Use a serrated knife to slice the maritozzi buns vertically, almost in half. Don't cut through the entire bun, as you want to keep the base intact.Open the buns and use a piping bag or a spoon to fill the bun openings with 2-3 TBS of whipped cream. Make the cream flush with the buns using an offset spatula or butter knife. Clean up the edges of the whipped cream to tidy the maritozzi.Dust with powdered sugar and buon appetito!
- Try to keep the dough at a constant, warm temperature (between 75-80ºF) as much as possible throughout fermentation. I use the Brød and Taylor bread proofer to keep my dough at a constant 78ºF. If your dough and environment are cooler, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, the dough will ferment faster.
- View my guide above for more detailed instructions, including photos of each recipe step.