Why we love them

These maritozzi are so fun to make and taste amazing. A sweet, soft bun is filled with what is essentially Chantilly cream, then dusted with icing sugar. They are absolutely delectable.

  • Rich and luscious, yet still light.
  • The bun is soft and fluffy
  • Relatively easy to make…
  • … but prepare ahead for rising time.

They’re the picture of pure indulgence. A brioche bun filled with a generous serving of fresh whipped cream could be nothing else. It’s not just any bun though, with a hint of honey and a touch of orange zest they really are something else.

Now, grab yourself an espresso (or a cup of tea) and imagine you’re in Rome enjoying this treat from the local pasticceria.

If you love Italian treats, try these baci di dama cookies too.

Closeup of a maritozzo with more in the background.

What are maritozzi?

Maritozzi (plural) or maritozzo (singular) are a Roman treat of a small bun made of enriched dough (a little brioche like) filled with whipped cream.

Historically, a simple bread containing dried fruit, pine nuts and honey for sweetness, they were eaten by labourers. They further evolved becoming a bread bun filled with cream and brushed with a sugar syrup, enjoyed during lent. Roman pastry chefs love to add their own little twist, some even making savoury versions.

Pronounced “ma-ree-tot-zi” (the zz should be pronounced as it is in pizza), these Italian cream buns today are given by boyfriends and husbands to their respective girlfriends and wives on Valentines day too.

Ingredients you’ll need

Maritozzi is made using a yeasted enriched dough which means it’s enriched with fat from milk, oil and eggs and sugar.

The ingredients for Maritozzi on a baking tray.

Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.

  • Flour: You need to use a good bread flour or high gluten flour for these buns to get that lovely chewy texture.
  • Milk: Use whole milk for this recipe for the best texture and flavour.
  • Sugar: Just white granulated sugar for the dough and then some icing sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting the tops.
  • Yeast: This recipe is written using instant yeast or instant dry yeast, so this is your best bet. You can also use active dry yeast.
  • Milk powder: Milk powder adds to both the flavour and texture.
  • Oil: Use a neutral flavoured vegetable oil like canola or a light-flavoured olive oil.
  • Honey: Honey not only adds to the sweetness but also to the texture and puffiness of the buns, plus helps with that golden brown colour.
  • Vanilla: Use vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Especially for the whipped cream filling, vanilla bean paste looks gorgeous providing all those little black flecks of vanilla.
  • Orange zest: Orange zest adds another little flavour profile and goes lovely with the cream filling. You can swap it for lemon filling or just leave it out if you prefer. They’ll still be delicious.
  • Eggs: A couple of eggs go into the dough to enrich it. A third one, the yolk only, is used in the egg wash for the top.
  • Cream: (not pictured). With different names around the world, you’re after thickened cream or heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. Basically, a cream of 35% milk fat or higher so that it can be whipped.
A bun being pressed to show it's softness.

How to make it (step-by-step)

For this maritozzi recipe, you’ll begin the dough by making a starter which is a cooked roux of flour and water (called tangzhong). It’s a technique that gelatinizes the starches in flour allowing it to absorb more moisture, hence the final baked product will have more moisture making it softer and stay softer for longer.

The tangzhong takes just a minute and is well worth it. Where many homemade breads can be starting to stale before days end, I’ve found these stay softer for up to 2 days.

It’s actually a very easy dough to make and there is the standard rising times required for the first proof and then for proofing the individual buns but they’re so worth it. And knowing they will stay softer longer means you can make them the day before serving and know they’ll still be good the next day.

Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.

Make the dough

A collage showing how to make Maritozzi dough.
  1. Make the tangzhong starter: In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and water. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly for a minute or two until it turns into a thick paste. Set that aside.
  2. Activate the yeast: In the bowl of a stand-mixer (best) combine the milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar.  Give it a mix then let it sit for 5 minutes until you see it getting puffy. While instant yeast doesn’t technically need activating, active dry yeast does. By using this method, no matter what yeast you’re using, you know the yeast is alive and ready to use.
  3. Combine dough: Now add all the other dough ingredients, finishing by adding the tangzhong starter. Start the mixer on the lowest setting just until the ingredients are combined, then turn it up to level 2 for 8 minutes.
A collage showing how to form Maritozzi buns.
  1. Cover the dough in a large bowl with plastic wrap ad let it rise until about doubled in size.
  2. Roll 12 small balls of dough by turning it in you palm as you continually pinch the sides in toward the bottom, until the tops are smooth.
A collage showing the buns rising.
  1. Place the balls of dough on a baking sheet and let them rise again.
  2. Brush them with egg wash, then bake.

Make the cream filling

The cream filling for these maritozzi buns is essentially a Chantilly cream – that is, a combination of cream, sugar and vanilla. It’s a lovely filing that is light in both texture and sweetness and just marries beautifully with the soft bun and the flavours in the buns.

  1. Just combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl then beat with an electric mixer to stiff peaks. Be very careful not to overwhip the cream or it will become grainy.

How to fill maritozzi buns

A collage showing how to fill the buns.
  1. Once cool, cut the maritozzi straight down the middle about ⅔ of the way through so you have a hinge at the bottom like a hotdog bun.
  2. Spoon the cream into the opening, generously.
  3. Use a flat edge like a bench scraper or spatula to scrape over the top for nice flat topping.

These are my favourite bread treat I’ve ever made. The dough is just such a lovely texture. And I’m not known for my patience but waiting for the dough to rise twice over is so worth it when you take a bite of these.

Tips and tricks

  • Weigh ingredients: I stress this often for baked goods but especially with bread. Grab yourself a set of kitchen scales (they’re super cheap and last forever) and weigh the flour. A little too much and you’ll end up with dry buns.
  • Spoon and level: If you don’t have scales and you want to make your maritozzi right now (can’t blame you), use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into your cup measure, then use the back of a knife across the top to level it off.
  • Test the yeast: Even using instant yeast which doesn’t technically need to be activated, give it 5 minutes in the warm milk first. If it starts to get puffy, you know your yeast is good to use. If it doesn’t get puffy, you’ll need to start again with a new tub of yeast but at least you haven’t wasted all the other ingredients and time waiting for the dough to rise.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the tangzhong: The tangzhong literally takes 2 minutes to make and you just cook it to a paste – that’s it. Nothing tricky and then it gets added straight into the dough.
  • Don’t overbake the buns: Bread is baked when it reaches a temperature of 88C / 190F in the centre. This will yield perfectly soft and moist bread and help it stay that way longer. The further you go past that temperature, the  more it will begin to dry out.
  • Don’t overwhip the cream: Be very careful not to overwhip the cream or it will end up with a grainy texture (on the bright side, you’d be part way to making homemade butter). As soon as you see it starting to hold the shape from the beaters, stop and check regularly until you just have stiff peaks.
  • Let the buns cool before filling: The maritozzi buns must be cool before filling with the whipped cream. If not, the cream will melt.
A maritozzi cut in half to show the inside.

Variations

  • Orange: You can swap the orange zest for lemon zest or just leave it out.
  • Honey: You can swap the honey for white or brown sugar instead.
  • Dried fruit: Add in some dried fruit like sultanas or raisins and citrus peel – up to ¾ cup.
  • Spices: You can add in a little nutmeg, cinnamon or all spice.
  • Toppings: If you want to jazz up the cream filling, try rolling the buns in shaved chocolate, crushed nuts, praline or even freeze dried fruit powder.
  • Fillings: While it’s traditionally whipped vanilla cream, why not try pastry cream or chocolate pastry cream.

FAQs

What does maritozzi mean?

It’s believed the name comes from the term “marito” meaning “husband” in Italian due to the tradition of husbands giving maritozzi to their wives.

Is it maritozzo or maritozzi?

Maritozzo is the singular version while maritozzi is the plural. So if you are ordering one of these Italian sweet buns, you would ask for moritozzo. More than one and you ask for maritozzi.

Can I make this maritozzi recipe without a stand mixer?

A stand mixer is best here as it is quite a sticky dough. If you knead by hand you’ll need to be very careful not to add too much flour.

How to store maritozzi

Keep these Italian cream buns stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Let them come nearly to room temperature before eating, just so the bun itself isn’t firm and cold.

The baked maritozzi buns can be frozen in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Top down view of 8 maritozzi.

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Top down view of 9 maritozzi.
5 from 10 ratings
Maritozzi are little round soft and fluffy, brioche-style buns, filled with vanilla whipped cream. These sweet, yeasted Italian cream buns taste are totally irresistible.

Ingredients

FOR THE STARTER

  • ½ cup water
  • cup bread flour (43g / 1 ½ oz)

FOR THE DOUGH

  • cup whole milk, luke warm (160ml)
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar (50g / 1.8oz)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 3 ¾ cups bread flour (490g / 17.3oz)
  • ¼ cup milk powder (25g / 1oz)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (60ml)
  • ¼ cup honey (60ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt

EGGWASH

  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon of milk

VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream (375ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine sugar) (8 tsp, see notes 1)

TOPPING

  • Icing sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided

Instructions
 

  • Make the starter: Add the water and flour to a small saucepan and whisk until smooth. Place of low-medium heat and cook, whisking constantly until you have very thick roux (thick paste). Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Bloom the yeast: Add the warm milk, yeast and sugar to a bowl of a stand mixer and mix a little. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom.
  • (Keep in mind this is a very sticky dough and will be best made in a mixer. If you do try it by hand, don’t be tempted to add too much flour and use a bench scraper to help.)
  • Create the dough: Add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed (you mainly don’t want the salt to touch the yeast directly). Add the tangzhong to the opposite side of the bowl to the eggs in case it’s still a bit hot. Make sure to use a rubber spatula so you don’t leave any behind.
  • Knead: Using the dough hook, start on low speed just until the ingredients are combined. Turn it up to level 2 and knead the dough for around 8 minutes. The dough at the end will still be quite sticky and sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  • Add a splash of oil to a large clean bowl and rub it around the sides. Rub a little of the oil over your hands and over the rounded edge of a dough scraper so the dough is easier to handle.
  • Rise: Scrape around the bowl to pull the dough into a ball, then lift it out with your hands and roughly fold it into a ball. Place into the oil bowl and flip to lightly coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest and allow to rise for 1 hour to rise until about doubled in size.
  • Portion the dough: Punch down the dough then roll 12 even balls from it. If you weigh the dough, then divide that by 12, then weigh each portion before rolling you’ll get even sized buns (mine are roughly around 90g each).
  • Shape the buns: To roll the dough into buns, place a portion in the palm of one hand and use the fingertips of the other to pinch in the sides over and over until it’s round and smooth on the palm side. If you find the dough is sticking to your hands, just dip your fingertips in the oil in the bowl it was rising in and it will stop it sticking to your hands.
  • 2nd Rise: Place them smooth side up on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them rise until puffy and almost doubled in size again.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F.
  • Bake: Brush the rolls all over with egg wash making sure to get right around the sides. Bake for 18-20 minutes, turning the tray at the halfway point, until puffed up and deep golden brown. Don’t overbake or they’ll dry out. The internal temperature should reach 87C /188F.
  • FOR THE VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM:
    Once the buns have cooled, beat the cream, vanilla and sugar in a large mixing bowl (with an electric mixer) or the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment.
  • Start your beater on the low speed so that cream doesn’t splatter everywhere. Gradually increase to medium speed, keeping an eye on the consistency. As it gets very thick, turn it down to low and check regularly, until stiff peaks form.
  • ASSEMBLING THE BUNS:
    Slice straight down through the centre of each bun about 2/3 of the way down leaving a thick hinge at the bottom.
  • Fill each one with cream and use a bench scraper or spatula flat to the top to scrape away the excess and any lines along the top of the bun.
  • Dust the buns with icing sugar and serve. Optionally, you can roll them in things like crushed nuts, almond or hazelnut praline or shaved chocolate. Even freeze dried berry powder is lovely.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.

Notes

  1. Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
  2. For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
MORE AMAZING BREADS!
Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.
Nutrition Facts
Maritozzi (Italian Cream Buns)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 386 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 0.03g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 83mg28%
Sodium 140mg6%
Potassium 181mg5%
Carbohydrates 47g16%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 586IU12%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 85mg9%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.