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Maritozzi

These luscious Roman Maritozzi are incredibly light, soft sweet buns filled with loads of perfectly whipped cream. 

But you don’t have to travel to Rome to eat one! This recipe has all the tips so that you can make Maritozzi at home that will satisfy your cravings and bring your dreams to life!

Italian Maritozzi filled with cream.
Can you resist?

This Italian cream bun dates back to ancient Roman times and is steeped in tradition. Originally, these maritozzi buns were without cream but contained ingredients like figs and honey and were prepared by wives to sustain their hard working husbands. Gradually the recipe evolved but remained a favorite that no one could resist. In the Middle Ages, these were the one exception during Lent when all other sweets were banned.

Today maritozzi alla panna, which means with cream, are still popular in Rome and the Lazio region and the fame of these buns is spreading around the world. In Rome, Maritozzo Day is dedicated to the bun and takes place in early December each year. Now you can bake your own whenever your heart desires! This isn’t a fast recipe and it will require patience and time but the results are worth it!

If you’ve eaten a maritozzo in Italy, you’ll often find that the whipped cream is billowing up and out of the bun. I’ve been a little more restrained but that doesn’t mean you need to be. Feel free to double or triple the amount of whipped cream! Go on! Enjoy it!

What is maritozzi made of?

Maritozzi are made of an enriched brioche-style dough that’s not too sweet. However, while brioche dough uses butter, maritozzi uses extra virgin olive oil to create softness and flavor. 

The sweet dough can be shaped into round or slightly elongated shapes which are then baked until well risen and golden brown. The maritozzi are cut in half either sideways or from the top but not all the way through (a bit like a hot dog roll) and then filled with loads of freshly whipped cream and optionally, a dusting of powdered sugar.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Unbelievable flavor – These traditional Italian sweet buns have a unique and delightful flavor of honey, citrus and vanilla. When filled with whipped cream the combination is truly irresistible.
  • Connect to Italy – Recreate vacation memories of the best maritozzi in Rome or bring the dream of travelling to the Italian capital into your home. Baking maritozzi at home can do all of this and more!
  • Impressive – Sharing your homemade maritozzi with your family and friends will impress and surprise them. And one bite into the tender, sweet bun will seal the deal!
  • Lots of variations – When making this maritozzi recipe, you can easily put your own twist on it, using your preferred flavors and fillings. Be sure to read my suggestions below.

What is the tradition of the maritozzi?

Overhead view of golden brown cream buns dusted with powdered sugar on a black wire rack.

The sweet tradition of maritozzi dates back to the 1800’s and is all about love. It’s said that these Italian cream buns were offered by prospective husbands to their brides-to-be on the first Friday of March which was then Valentine’s Day. Inside the cream would be hidden an engagement ring or other small gold gift.

Another legend says that girls would bake beautiful maritozzi to attract the attention of the young men of their town. The husband-to-be would choose the maritozzi of the girl he liked. Either way, it’s the most wonderful and delicious way to tell someone that you love them.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe as in the recipe card viewed from above.

Maritozzi are made of a slightly sweet, yeasted dough that includes olive oil, sugar and eggs. It’s the choice of ingredients for this traditional Italian recipe that creates an authentic taste and texture. 

  • Bread flour – easy to find in supermarkets, this flour has a high gluten or protein content which gives the dough structure and strength. This allows the maritozzi dough to rise and hold its shape.
  • Milk – choose whole milk for extra moisture and fat in the dough. Plant based milks can be used but the texture may be slightly different.
  • Eggs – use large or extra large eggs. I like to use free range eggs but use whatever you prefer.
  • Granulated sugar – white granulated sugar is traditional for this recipe. However you may want to experiment using other types of sugar.
  • Olive oil – I like to use a delicate extra virgin olive oil. Choose one that’s not too peppery or spicy.
  • Active dry yeast – check the expiry date on the package before you bake so that you don’t have disappointments.
  • Honey – regular honey from the supermarket that you like the taste of is fine. Check the ingredients that it is actually pure honey – some aren’t! 
  • Orange and lemon zest – I’ve used home grown oranges and lemons that I know are organic. In any case, make sure that you wash the citrus very well before zesting.
  • Vanilla bean paste – this is a little more expensive than vanilla extract but worth it for the extra flavor! Most supermarkets stock it and it keeps for ages.
  • Salt – to enhance the flavors of the dough!
  • Cream – fresh heavy whipping cream is what you need here. Have it really cold for best whipping results.

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

Prepare the sponge for the maritozzi dough by mixing all of the sponge ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for an hour. It will bubble and rise. Don’t worry if it falls down on itself.

Make the dough

Spongy dough in a steel bowl with eggs and other liquids.

Mix the sponge into wet ingredients using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer.

Soft dough in the bottom of a steel bowl with some flour on half of the dough and a dough hook shown above the bowl.

Add the flour gradually then use the dough hook to knead for 5 minutes.

Pale yellow dough being folded in half.

Scrape  the dough out onto an oiled surface then fold with oiled hands to strengthen the dough.

Pale yellow dough in the bottom of a glass bowl.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise. 

Shape and bake

Balls of dough being shaped by hand.

Divide the risen dough into eight equal portions. Shape into a slightly elongated ball and rise for a second time.

Yellow dough ball being brush with egg wash.

Brush the risen maritozzi with egg and bake in a preheated oven

Make filling and topping

Sugar and water being stirred in a pan with a red spatula.

Dissolve the sugar in the water for the syrup then boil for 2 minutes.

Whipped cream in a steel bowl with whisk attachment held above the bowl.

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Glaze and fill

Brushing syrup on round brown buns.

Brush baked buns with sugar syrup and return to the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.

Round brown bun cut in half but not all the way through.

Cut maritozzi but not all the way through.

Piping cream into a split bun.

Fill maritozzi with cream using either a piping bag or a spoon.

A knife leveling off cream in a brown bun.

Scrape off excess cream then dust the filled maritozzi with powdered sugar.

Hint: Rising times for the maritozzi dough can differ greatly depending on the room temperature. If it’s a particularly warm day, the dough may rise more quickly. Likewise, if it’s a cool day, the rising time will be longer. On cold days, I’ll put 2 to 3 inches of hand-warm water in the kitchen sink and stand the bowl of dough in the water. 

Substitutions

  • Olive Oil – substitute with sunflower oil or softened butter.
  • Active Dry Yeast – substitute 1:1 with instant yeast if that’s all you have.
  • Vanilla Bean Paste – use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.

Variations

  • Add-ins – Traditional maritozzi dough often includes pine nuts and raisins but chocolate chips, chopped candied orange and spices like ground cinnamon are also delicious! Just mix the add-ins through the dough during the folding process. Any spices can be added along with the flour.
  • Italian Pastry Cream – Pipe or spoon vanilla or chocolate pastry cream into the split maritozzi. Add cream and smooth off. Also great without the added cream!
  • Toppings – Top the filled maritozzi with sliced seasonal fruit, nuts, Nutella, pistachio cream, jam, chocolate ganache and the list could go on and on.
  • Savory Maritozzi – Explore savory fillings like ricotta, cream cheese, my Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread, prosciutto or my sausage meatballs

The variations for maritozzi are limited just to your imagination. 

Equipment

The most important piece of equipment that you need is a stand mixer. It will make this maritozzi recipe much easier. The dough is soft and sticky making hand kneading difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. 

You need the usual baking equipment of measuring cups and spoons or electronic scales, spatulas or scrapers, wooden spoons, bowls, and baking sheets. Also have ready a small saucepan and a pastry brush.

Storage

This isn’t a recipe that can be made in advance at least not the day before. Bake and serve maritozzi on the same day. Maritozzi must be served very fresh just after being filled with whipped cream. 

Leftover unfilled maritozzi can be frozen. To freeze, wrap each bun individually in plastic wrap before placing them into a sealed container.

Top tips

Close up of sweet browned but cut vertically and filled with cream
  • If the sponge doesn’t rise and become bubbly, don’t proceed with this maritozzi recipe. Your yeast could be old or stale. Buy new active dry yeast.
  • Room temperature will affect how the dough rises. If the room temperature is cool, this maritozzi dough will still rise, albeit slowly. You just need patience.
  • Proof the dough faster by placing a baking pan filled with hot water into the bottom of a switched off oven. Set the bowl of dough on the rack above and close the oven. Another method is to fill the kitchen sink with 2 or 3 inches of hand-warm water. Put the cover bowl into the water making sure it doesn’t float; that means you’ve got too much water in the sink. I often use a large kitchen cloth to cover the bowl and the sink creating a warm, moist environment. 
  • The dough will be sticky but avoid adding extra flour. Too much flour will make the maritozzi dry and less fluffy. Use olive oil on your hands and the work surface to make folding the dough easier.  If absolutely necessary add just a spoonful of flour. 
  • Homemade whipped cream isn’t that hard. It’s important to keep the cream in the fridge until just before whipping. Freezing the bowl and whisk attachment is also a good idea especially if the weather is warm. When whipping cream, watch it carefully because overwhipping means you’ll have made butter instead of homemade whipped cream. Begin whipping on a low speed increasing as the cream thickens. Periodically stop to check if the cream is ready.

FAQ

What is the meaning of maritozzi?

Maritozzi comes from the word “marito” which means husband in Italian. These Italian cream buns were said to be offered by prospective husbands to their brides-to-be with a ring hidden inside the cream. 

Another legend says that girls made maritozzi in order to attract the attention of a young man. Either way, maritozzi are generally agreed to mean husband or “husband like”.

Is it maritozzo or maritozzi?

Actually it’s both. Maritozzo is singular and maritozzi is plural for this traditional Roman sweet bun. In the Italian language, to pluralize a singular noun the ending vowel is changed. The o and e changes to i and the a changes to e. So singular maritozzo becomes plural maritozzi.

Is maritozzo a breakfast?

Yes, maritozzo is most often eaten for breakfast in Italy. The Italian custom is to eat a sweet breakfast. In Rome it’s often a maritozzo but other possibilities are nutella muffins, raspberry danish, lemon cake and Italian S cookies

Serving Suggestions

Close up of a filled brown bun cut in half revealing the cream filling.

Serve maritozzi traditionally as Romans do, with a cappuccino or espresso coffee. Italian hot chocolate is a favorite as well. Pair these with a fruit dish like my baked fruit or a simple strawberry compote.

Maritozzi, the Italian breakfast of champions, is also ideal for dessert or a snack!

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Italian Maritozzi filled with cream.

Maritozzi Recipe (Italian Cream Buns)

Maritozzi are the perfect combination of a light, barely sweet bun filled with whipped cream. The Italian breakfast of champions but also ideal for dessert or a snack!
5 from 108 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Rising Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 44 minutes
Servings:8 filled buns
Author: Marcellina

Equipment

  • 1 stand mixer
  • Extra bowls
  • measuring cups and spoons (or scales)
  • Wooden spoon and/or rubber spatula
  • Small saucepan
  • Pastry brush
  • Baking sheets

Ingredients

Sponge

  • ½ cup (65 grams) bread flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ½ cup whole milk warmed but not hot

Dough

  • 2 cups (260 grams) bread flour
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60mls) extra virgin olive oil light flavored
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt

Sugar Syrup

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ water

Whipped Cream Filling

  • 2 cups (480mls) heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Sponge

  • Mix together flour and yeast then stir in warm milk. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to stand at room temperature for 60 minutes. It will rise and then fall back on itself. It should have a pleasant yeasty smell.

Dough

  • In the large bowl of a stand mixer combine the sponge, eggs, granulated sugar, olive oil, honey, orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla paste. Beat with a flat beater on low speed until well combined.
  • Add all but ½ cup of the flour and beat on low. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.
  • Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all of the dough is combined. Then switch to a dough hook. Add the remaining flour and the salt then knead on low speed for 5 more minutes until the dough is soft and supple.
  • Oil your work surface with a little olive oil. Scrape the dough onto the oiled surface. Oil your hands as well. Flatten the dough into an oblong shape then fold in half. Turn the dough 90º then repeat the flattening and folding. Fold 6 times including the first folding. Form into a ball.
  • Clean out the stand mixer bowl or use another bowl and rub it with a little oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours until almost tripled.
  • Divide the maritozzi dough into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a slightly elongated, oval shape and place it onto lined baking sheets.
  • Spray the tops of the dough lightly with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
  • Brush the maritozzi buns with egg wash and bake for 12-14 minutes or until the loaves are dark, golden brown and cooked through.
  • Remove from the oven. Brush with syrup and return to the oven for 1 or 2 minutes to set the syrup.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • Use a serrated knife to make a cut in the bun either vertical or not quite horizontal. Don't cut all the way through. It should be like a hot dog bun.
  • Open the maritozzi buns as wide as you can without splitting them and pipe or spoon the whipped cream in generously.
  • Smooth off with a dinner knife or spatula. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  • Serve maritozzi immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 hours. If refrigerated, remove 10 minutes before serving to allow the bun to soften.
  • Leftover maritozzi should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for a day or two in the fridge. However, the buns will not be as soft.

Sugar Syrup

  • Heat sugar and water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Then boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whipped Cream Filling

  • Pour the cream into the bowl of an electric stand mixer or a large bowl if you're using a electric hand mixer. Using a whisk attachment begin to whisk slowly increasing the speed gradually. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Take care not to overwhip or you'll end up with butter. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Ensure the yeast is active and not stale.
  • Have patience if the yeast is rising slowly. Don’t stick rigidly to the times.
  • Create a warm environment for the dough.
  • Don’t add extra flour. Use a little oil to prevent the dough sticking to your hands and the work surface.
  • Have the cream very cold before whipping. Start whisking slowly and gradually increase speed. 
  • Stop whisking the cream periodically to check the consistency. Don’t overwhip!
  • In Italy you’ll find these with way more whipped cream so be as generous as you like. More often in Italy, the ratio is more whipped cream than bun!
For more information and FAQ’s, read the full post above.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.004g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 257mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 960IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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20 Comments

  1. I’m currently in the process of making this recipe, my dough seems quite wet 🤦🏼‍♀️ any suggestions or advice as to what I’ve done wrong? Thanks

    1. Lynsey, the dough should be quite soft and may seem a little wet but it shouldn’t be too wet. Have you folded it as instructed. As you fold the gluten develops and the dough strengthens. If it is really wet you can sprinkle a little flour on the work surface as you fold. Try not to add too much flour. The soft dough means that the end result will be moist and tender. Let me know if you have any more problems.

    1. It will depend on what you can get in your area. Before settling on an olive oil, do a taste test with a few different brands. You’ll be surprised at the differences. I like Monini but I know it’s not available everywhere at a reasonable price. Bertolli and Cobram Estate are also brands that I use and like. Look for “delicato” or “light flavored” for this recipe. Check that the bottle has a “produced by” date because extra virgin olive oil should be consumed within a 12-18 months. Also only buy extra virgin olive oils that come in a colored bottle as exposure to light will degrade the oil.

  2. Can you make the dough the day before? Perhaps after splitting it into 8 portions then putting in fridge and when ready to bake next day pull them out a couple hours before baking.

    1. I’ve never tried that with this particular recipe but I have with other yeast doughs. I think that would work. Be sure to cover the dough well so that it doesn’t dry out.

  3. Hi
    you have one mistake
    you wrote twice orange zest instead one lemon and one orange.

    perfect recipe

    thank you

    1. I’m happy to hear that the instructions helped. They’re quite lengthy but I do think this clarifies the process. Thank you for your comment, Helen!

  4. 5 stars
    OMG this recipe looks so good. I love Italian food. I need to make some of these for my next party.

  5. 5 stars
    Added the chocolate chips and these were a huge hit. They were light and fluffy…totally delish and super satisfying.

    1. Do you add water to the starter sponge or milk? The recipe ingredients say milk but the instructions say water. Thank you!