Cranberry Lemon Sweet Rolls (Low Carb)


It would seem that I have quite a thing for cranberries these days. In the span of a month, I’ve already posted three recipes featuring cranberries, including the Cinnamon Cranberry Pinwheels and my low carb Cranberry Bliss Bars. And now I am about to present you with another cranberry recipe. I would say that this would be the last of them, but I shouldn’t make promises I can’t keep. The truth is, I really like cranberries, and I don’t just use them during the holidays. When fresh cranberries become available in the fall, I buy bags of them and store them in my freezer for year-round use. So let’s just say that this will be the last of the cranberry recipes…for a little while.

This recipe was really inspired by my desire to try my hand at a low carb yeast bread. Thinking about what I really wanted to have on Christmas morning led me to think of sticky buns, in all their gooey, caramel-topped glory. Having experimented some with trying to get erythritol to caramelize, I knew I probably couldn’t quite pull it off in a way that would satisfy my craving, so I cast around for other sweet roll ideas. I’d seen a number of cranberry-orange sweet rolls on other blogs and thought that something like this might be a lovely complement to our eggs on Christmas morning. I figured I’d skip the cream cheese icing, as my kids don’t really like it, and just do a nice lemony glaze instead.

Carbalose flour is the closest thing to regular flour I’ve found that can still be considered low carb. I don’t use it all that often because I like to try to make many of my foods gluten free. I must confess, I am also not entirely sure how they modify it to make it low carb, so I try to use it in moderation. But I am not confident enough of my own bread-making skills to forego the gluten in yeast breads, so for this recipe I relied on carbalose flour with some extra gluten flour for good measure. The filling for these sweet rolls was simply some of my sugar free cranberry sauce, along with a little cinnamon and some granulated erythritol.

The Results: I was immensely pleased with these sweet rolls, and really happy I gave them a go for a special occasion like Christmas Day. They were festive and pretty, not to mention delicious. The tart cranberry filling was a lovely change from the traditional cinnamon sugar and the glaze gave a lovely hint of lemon without being overpowering. Even my kids liked them, although our recent family bout of the stomach flu meant they both only had a few bites of their breakfast in total. Or perhaps it was the excitement of the presents still to be opened that drew them away from the breakfast table early.

I wasn’t at all sure that the dough was going to rise properly. I made it on Christmas Eve day, and then headed out for a run and when I came back, it seemingly hadn’t risen at all. So I gave it a little encouragement in a warm oven, and that did the trick. I did the same thing on Christmas morning, after taking the rolls out of the fridge. The only change I would make to this would be to let them rise longer during the proofing stage before baking, because once the oven was up to the proper temperature, they didn’t quite puff up as much as I would like. But overall, I was really happy with these sweet rolls and am very glad I have a low(er) carb alternative for special occasions.

Cranberry Lemon Sweet Rolls

3/4 cup almond milk, warmed to 110F
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups carbalose flour, plus extra for dusting)
3/4 cup gluten flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3 tbsp granulated erythritol
3 1/2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast (about 1 1/2 envelopes)
1 tsp salt

1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp granulated erythritol
12 drops stevia extract

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/3 cup lemon juice (1 to 1 1/2 lemons)
6 tbsp powdered erythritol

For the dough, whisk together almond milk, melted butter and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup or bowl.

Combine flours, sugar, yeast and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low, add buttermilk mixture and mix until dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick slightly to the bottom. If it is too wet, add a small amount more carbalose flour, 1 tbsp at a time. If it is too dry, add room temperature water, 1 tbsp at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. You may find it needs some extra encouragement to rise properly. If so, turn on your oven to 200F for 10 minutes, then turn oven off and place bowl with dough inside.

For the filling, combine cranberries, water and erythritol in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until berries pop. Remove from heat and add stevia. Set aside.

Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a 12×16 inch rectangle. Spread with cranberry mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Carefully roll into a tight log and pinch the seam closed. Place seam side down and gently stretch the log to be 18 inches in length, evening out the thickness as you go.

Slice cylinder into 16 evenly sized rolls. Arrange rolls cut-side down in prepared baking pan and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size and tightly pressed together, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

**Alternatively, you could place unrisen rolls in the fridge for up to 16 hours. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour, then bake as directed. If they are not rising after removing them from the fridge, warm the oven again and turn it off, then let them sit in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake rolls until golden and puffed, 25-30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack or cutting board.

For the glaze, whisk together lemon juice and powdered erythritol. Drizzle over warm rolls and serve.

Makes 16 rolls. Each roll has a total of 20g of carbs and 5.6g of fiber. Subtracting erythritol, each roll has 10.7g of carbs and 5.6g of fiber.

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  1. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says

    You had my attention at cranberry mmmm. I'm like you – I buy bags when they're available and freezer to use later.

  2. Sommer J says

    YAY!!! I am so happy these turned out well for you! I remember you tweeting about them on Christmas Eve and I was waiting for the results! They look gorgeous and I am sure they taste divine!!! I've only grown to love cranberries last December. I don't cook enough with them, and you, of course, is giving me so many grand ideas!

  3. Sugar Free Low Carb says

    I also buy cranberries in season and freeze a bunch for later because I love them. I'm still unsure about the the low carb yeast dough, but you have provided some encouragement. As usual, your recipe looks amazing.

  4. Keaton says

    I just love cranberries- In fact my last blog post was Cranberry-Chai bread! Your photography is fantastic, and these look delicious!

  5. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Havingq says

    I've been obsessed with cranberries lately too. They have such a great tart flavor.
    These rolls look fantastic, from the picture I'd never guess they were low card. They sound like a wonderful Christmas breakfast!

  6. Cajun Chef Ryan says

    Great modifications you have made for this dessert! And high in fiber too, makes for a great healthy treat!

    Bon appetit!

  7. BakingWithoutaBox says

    Beautiful. Simply gorgeous. The rise is lovely whether or not it puffed as much as you'd hoped. And that top photo is a foodgawking masterpiece.

  8. sara @ CaffeIna says

    Who could ever get tired of cranberries, really. Above all if you put them to such a great use. These rolls are making me drooling, seriously!

  9. Evan @swEEts says

    You are so good about low carb baking! I wish I had that type of self control.. ha I do love cranberries though and I don't see anything wrong with baking with them as much as possible :) I hope you have a lovely New Years Carolyn!!

  10. rosanna says

    Wow, excellent recipe!!!! I love all your low-carb recipes and all your explanations about your efforts to get good results.
    We don't have carbalose here. I bought soya flour the other day, because I was told it is the flour with the lowest carb content. I don't know what to use ut for o how to use it, I have work finding it out if I want to use it and try it. HAve you ever heard about soya flour?

  11. Foodiva says

    Carolyn, you are now officially crowned the Cranberry Queen, and I mean that in the best possible way! Love these sweet rolls, they look utterly sinful and yet they're low-carb…. I'm perpetually amazed at and inspired by your alternative baking skills!

  12. La Phemme Phoodie says

    Your recent posts make me want to go out and stock up on cranberries so I can make some of your yummy creations.

  13. Elisabeth says

    Your next step should be writing a cookbook for your amazing low-carb low-fat, sugar free, and gluten free healthy, and delicious foods, and desserts that can really fool a person, thinking it's so rich…which actually is, but without the extra carbs, and calories.
    …another great creation, Carolyn!

  14. Green Girl @ A little bit of everything says

    I love cranberry sweets too, tomorrow I'm going to make the cranberry bliss bars you posted a while back. sadly I won't be able to take a picture of them :(
    thanks for sharing all these wonderful cranberry recipes. looking forward to new ones.

    I wish You..
    12 Month of Happiness,
    52 Weeks of Fun,
    365 Days Success,
    8760 Hours Good Health,
    52600 Minutes Good Luck,
    3153600 Seconds of Joy

    Happy New Year

  15. Velva says

    Awesome! Your cranberry sticky rolls look wonderful! Low-carb too. I would love one of these rolls with a good cup of coffee.

    Happy New Year!

  16. Kelsey says

    these must be bookmarked! not only are they the prettiest little buns (hehe) to look at, theyre much healthier! great job!!

  17. whatsfordinneracrossstatelines says

    I'm not tired of cranberries at all! The are so tart and refreshing. These sweet rolls look just like the real thing. Happy New Years.

  18. Anonymous says

    Just discovered your blog. These recipes look wonderful. I'm on a pretty restricted diet and look forward to taking your recipes a couple experiments further to take out ingredients I can't eat. I would love to know if you know of any replacements for where you use xantham gum, as I can't digest it properly. Thanks.

  19. Stella says

    I love cranberries too, Carolyn, and I use them for at least half the year. These look and sound extremely delicious. Love that they aren't so decadent either-very nice!

  20. Laurie Alves says

    Absolutely love the Recipe! Just a quick question…Was there a reason you chose Lemon instead of Orange for this recipe?

  21. Beth says

    What beautiful rolls! I'm not so much a fan of cranberries, but I love the flavor of lemon in everything! You've come up with another winner of a recipe.

  22. marla says

    Looks like you had great success! I have not tried that flour, but I tend to mix up a few whole grain flours when I bake. I am learning a lot from your baked goodies keep up the awesome work! Can't wait to see what you will bake up in 2011! xo

  23. Megan says

    Morning Carolyn! These look delicious! You are my kitchen star! Always shining bright with a delicious twist! Congrats on top 9….. had to buzz (again) these beautiful rolls! – Meg

  24. ellen says

    If only you had put the alternate recipe in, too, like at the end! One with real milk, flour, and sugar. I'm going to have to spend a lot of time experimenting with the better ingredients (nobody else seems to make cranberry lemon sweet rolls, dammit). Carbs are good! We love carbs, real flour, and real sugar!

  25. Kim - Liv Life says

    These look simply amazing!! You can make cranberry recipes all year long and I'll be happy. Cranberry is one of our favorites as well and we use them all year around too. Same with pumpkin! Happy New Year, Carolyn!
    And congrats on the Top 9!!! Woo Hoo!!

  26. Sprinkled with Flour says

    I've never heard of carbalose flour, but these look good enough to eat to me! I love anything with cranberry, and lemon is a perfect flavor pairing:)

  27. Carolyn says

    Hi Laurie! Thanks for commenting. I used lemon instead of orange simply because I wanted to. I find orange is a little overpowering with cranberries sometimes. It has a much more distinct flavour, and I wanted this glaze to have a lighter touch.

  28. Carolyn says

    For anonymous, who asked about xanthan gum, I hope you come back to read this! I am sorry you are on such a restricted diet. In place of xanthan gum, there are a number of things you could use, although you may have to play around to get the consistency right. Flax seed meal is known as a helpful binder, and there are starches such as arrowroot that might help as well. It rather depends on what you are making. If you want any help, please feel free to email me directly (carketch29 @ yahoo dot com). I am no expert but I've learned a bit and might be able to muddle it out.

  29. Carolyn says

    Hi Ellen – carbs aren't good for me so that's why this recipe is as it is. However, if you wanted to make these the conventional way, find any old sweet dough recipe (most good baking books will have one). Replace the filling with regular cranberry sauce (about 1 cup will do), sprinkle with cinnamon. Replace the powdered erythritol in the glaze with powdered sugar. There you have it!

  30. Cake Duchess says

    Congrats on Top 9 (sorry a little late!). These look beautiful. I just made recently some cinnamon rolls. I still have tons of cranberries from Thanksgiving and will give it a go in the rolls the next time I make them.;)

  31. Rachel says

    Pretty and healthy too! Definitely a Top 9 kind of recipe! I'll take all the cranberry recipes you can dish out – they're a favorite of mine too.


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