The June bread challenge set for us in the We Knead to Bake group was ‘Maritozzi Con La Panna’ – which is an Italian sweet bun, sort of like a brioche. They have an orange and vanilla flavour and are traditionally filled with whipped cream or with a glaze or even dusting of icing sugar. We decided to forego both versions, and they tasted brilliant even served as-is with our evening tea/coffee. The combination of orange with vanilla was very nice, and the raisins and toasted pine nuts provided an interesting texture with each bite.
This bread is fairly similar to the Gibassier we had made last year, and after the problems I had with that bake I approached this one with much trepidation. The bread itself proved less of a challenge than feared. Mostly becasue the dough behaved much better, rising and expanding as expected. But also, I think, because I have gotten better at this by sheer practice and experience. This recipe also calls for a starter /sponge, just like the Biga used in the Gibassier. But this time, all went as planned, which was a relief.
The one thing I did note while following the recipe was that I needed to add more flour, as the dough seemed too wet and sticky to me. And the feedback from the group was that I wasn’t the only one who did this, although the amount added varied from person to person.
I urge you to try this if you like brioche. The end result is great, even without the cream filling or the sugar glaze. Here is Aparna’s recipe
For the buns
- Instant yeast – 1½ tsp
- Warm milk – ½ cup
- Strong Bread Flour – 1 3/4 cups, plus more for dusting
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 50 gm butter, soft at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1/8 cup raisins, soaked in 2 to 3 tbsp warm unsweetened orange juice warm water for 10 minutes
- 1tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Zest of 1 orange or 1 tbsp candied orange peel, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the glaze
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- Powdered or icing sugar for dusting
For the filling
- 500ml fresh cream, whipped to stiff peaks with a few teaspoons of icing sugar (you will need about 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream per bun), optional
- You can do this by hand or in a machine. Put the yeast, the warm milk, a teaspoon of the sugar and half a cup of the flour in a largish bowl and mix with a spoon to create a smooth paste. This is the starter or sponge. Loosely cover the bowl and set it aside for 20 to 30 minutes. After this time the starter/ sponge would have risen a bit and contain a lot of bubbles.
- Put this starter/ sponge, 1 cup of flour, the egg, the remaining sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of your processor and knead a little. Then add the raisins (with the liquid), the pine nuts, the orange zest and the vanilla and knead until you have a dough that is soft and smooth but not sticky. Add as much of the remaining 1/4 cup flour (or more liquid) as you need to reach this consistency of dough. If necessary stop kneading by machine once the dough has come together reasonably well, and then knead by hand till soft and elastic. Note: At this stage, I needed to add a further 3/4 cup or so of flour
- Dust a little flour in a bowl, and place the ball of dough in it. Loosely cover and let it rise till double in volume (about 1½ to 2 hours).
- Lightly knead the dough to remove air pockets and divide the dough into 6 or 8 equal portions, according to your preference. Roll each into a smooth ball and then flatten it out into a circle with your fingers. Roll up the circle, jelly/ Swiss roll style and seal the seam. Shape into an oval ad pace on a lined baking sheet leaving enough space between the rolls for them to expand when they rise.
- Loosely cover and let them rise for about 30 minute. Bake them 180C (350F) for 15 to 20 minutes or till they’re puffed up and a golden brown colour on the top and the bottom. Don’t over bake or the bottoms will darken/ burn and the buns will lose their softness.
- If you’re going to brush the buns with the sugar syrup, make it while they’re baking, Boil the sugar and water together in a small pan, until the sugar dissolves. Brush this syrup on the tops of the hot buns once you’ve taken them out of the oven.
- Let the buns cool completely. Then slit them, using a sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way through and keep one side intact. Open them up slightly (don’t let the two parts of the bun separate) and fill with whipped cream, making the edge smooth the flat side of a palette knife or spoon. Moisten your fingers with a little water and hold each Maritozzo carefully at its base, to avoid the sugar glaze sticking to your fingers and pulling pieces of the brioche away.
- Serve with coffee. This recipe makes 6 or 8 buns.