Roman sweet buns with a codfish filling

How to make maritozzo with canned codfish

In February 2020, before we officially had a global pandemic and as the first COVID cases were just being recorded in Italy, my boyfriend and I were in Lisbon, Portugal, stockpiling canned fish. I can think of few more useful things to buy in bulk prior to a national lockdown. We had no idea what was coming, but we had plenty of canned fish when it did.

I’m a superfan of canned fish. It’s delicious, healthy, convenient, and if done right, good for the planet. I like it straight from the can or used in something more elaborate, as in this recipe for maritozzo. Maritozzo, or maritozzi in plural in Italian, is a traditional Roman sweet bun that is typically filled with whipped cream. It’s somewhat akin to a donut and is a breakfast food in Rome or a late-night snack. My boyfriend recalls eating them in the middle of the night when he was young and out on the town.

But maritozzo can also be filled with more savory items instead of whipped cream, such as creamy cod. The slightly sweet bun with the savory fish is a great flavor combination. I’ve had it in Italian restaurants and loved it. Although, I’m assuming they didn’t make it with canned codfish, but it’s what I had and it is super easy.

I’ve wanted to try making maritozzo for some time and as I’m home visiting my family in the United States who have never enjoyed a maritozzo before, it seemed like a good opportunity. While the dough was rising, I also spied a can of codfish on the counter so, voila, canned cod it was.

You could also skip the cod and whip some heavy cream without sugar until it forms gentle peaks and use this in the buns instead. That’s the classic way to fill a maritozzo.

I also think I will play with the maritozzo recipe a bit when I make this again. The recipe below is perfectly delicious, but I would like my buns a bit fluffier.

Maritozzo with canned codfish

Adapted from the recipe for maritozzo by Emiko Davis on Food52 and from the recipe for tinned cod brandade by Chris McDade in the cookbook The Magic of Tinned Fish.

Makes 8 small buns

For the sweet bun

  • 7 grams active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 1/4 cup (59 grams) of room temperature water
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 3 tablespoons (38 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams or 1/2 a stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

For the glaze on the bun

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water

For the codfish filling

  • Two smallish whole potatoes – approximately 200 grams, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 4.4 ounce can of cod in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (32.5 grams) olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Make the buns

  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup room temperature water In a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of flour and mix together, cover with a dishtowel and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Put the remaining 1 3/4 cup flour in another large mixing bowl and use a fork to mix in the dissolved yeast mixture, egg, butter, sugar, and salt. Add more flour or water as needed to make a manageable, soft dough.
  4. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover and let rise for an hour. It should double in size.
  6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and flatten into a rectangle.
  7. Cut into 8 equal sized pieces and shape into ovals and place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.
  8. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden on top and bottom.
  10. Make a simple syrup by boiling 2 tablespoons of sugar in 2 tablespoond of oil in a small pot until the sugar dissolves.
  11. Brush the tops of the buns with the simple syrup while they are still hot. Let the buns cool completely.
  12. Slice the buns open and fill with the cod filling.

Make the codfish filling

  1. Place the potatoes in a small pot with the bay leaves, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes.
  2. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the potatoes and the garlic from the pot and place in a mixing bowl. Discard the bay leaves but save some of the water in case you need to fix the consistency of the blended cod in step 8.
  4. Mix the potatoes and garlic together with a fork (or in a food processor).
  5. Add the heavy cream while the potatoes are still hot and mix well.
  6. Slowly add the oil from the cod and then 1/4 cup of olive oil while continuing to stir with a fork.
  7. Flake the cod with a fork or knife and add to the potatoes and mix well.
  8. If needed, you can add some of the water saved in step 3 to fix the consistency. You are looking for a smooth, creamy mashed potato-like texture.
  9. Season with salt if needed.

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