Maritozzo buns with cream and Earl Grey tea

I have been wanting to make these buns for what feels like a century(in actuality, closer to 2 months). The idea of these fluffy buns with a perfect line of cream, it just sounds like eating a cloud! For those unfamiliar with what maritozzo are, they are Roman(Italian) bread buns that are stuffed with cream. Usually, they have soaked salterns or fruits in them as well, and are dunked into a syrup or soaking liquid, similar to baba. For mine, I wanted to keep them relatively light and fluffy, so I opted out of using the soaked fruit, and chose to use straight up Earl Grey tea to soak mine with! The majority of the effort in this recipe is in the bread, since you have to make a tangzhong(cooked roux mixture) and knead the bread a ton. But the end result are soft, fluffy buns with a delicate scent of earl grey tea, a thin layer of jam(can be omitted), and a nice, clean strip of cream running between the two parts of the bun.

Makes 12 to 14 buns:
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs, with 1 more for brushing
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp granulated sugar
A pinch of salt

In a pot, heat up 1/3 cup flour with 1/2 cup water, whisking constantly over low heat until thickened to the consistency of gravy. Take off heat and whisk in the butter first. Once the butter is fully melted, whisk in the milk and 2 eggs. In another bowl, place in the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt first. Mix into that the milk and egg mixture. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. You want the dough to be super elastic(when you pull it, you should be able to see light shine through without the dough tearing). Divide the dough into 60g pieces(I managed to get 14 pieces). Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Place on two sheet trays, keeping each bun at least 2 inches apart from one another, and cover. Proof at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours. Brush the proofed dough balls with egg. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes.

For the soak:
2 bags earl grey tea
1 cup warm water
A pinch of salt

Steep the tea in water and salt for 10 minutes.

For the cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Whip to stiff peaks. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until you choose to use it.

For assembly:
Jam*
Confectioner’s sugar

Cut the cooled down buns hamburger style about 90% of the way through(you still want the bun to be a single piece of bread). Spoon earl grey tea inside of the buns. Or dunk the buns into the tea(I opted to spoon just because dunking could get really messy). Spoon in jam and cream into the buns, and smooth them out with an offset spatula. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately! 

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