Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Low Carb Cinnamon RollsI think part of what makes someone good at developing new recipes is the ability to notice the properties of one recipe and translate it into a whole different recipe altogether.  This is a skill I seem to have developed over the past few years and I think I must have a mental filing cabinet in my head somewhere, where all the things I noticed while working with a particular recipe get tucked away, waiting to be useful again.  I will notice the way a particular dough crisps up, or the way a batter thickens or rises (or sometimes fails to rise) and I will think “huh, okay, that’s interesting”.  It’s the unexpected qualities of one of my baking experiments that are sometimes the most useful for future experiments.  I will then find myself, a few weeks down the road, realizing that I can use this quality to my advantage in another way.  And so it goes, I think, that I learn more and more how to coax alternative ingredients like almond flour and erythritol to do what I want them to do.

Low Carb Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is really a case in point.  I have long despaired of having anything really resembling a good cinnamon roll after being diagnosed with diabetes.  I made one early attempt, with a combination of almond flour and coconut flour, back in the early days of this blog.  They were…okay.  At the time, I thought maybe they were the best I could do using low carb and gluten free ingredients.   A little later, I did attempt a sweet roll using carbalose flour, but that does contain gluten and I am moving further and further away from using any gluten products at all.  So for the time being, I gave up.  I was very pleased with my Cinnamon Roll Scones and thought that they were an excellent replacement in taste, if not exactly in appearance and texture.

And then, when I was making another recipe altogether, I recognized something about the dough I was working with that I thought might make a good cinnamon roll.  It was the way it both rose and spread during baking that caught my eye, and I thought that if I rolled it out carefully and filled it with melted butter, cinnamon and granulated erythritol, it might just do the trick.  Now I will tell you that these are cinnamon rolls of the biscuit dough variety.  I have never attempted a yeast dough with almond flour, or with any gluten free flour at all.  But traditional wheat flour biscuit dough makes wonderful cinnamon rolls and I knew that if I could just nail an almond flour biscuit dough, I could make a decent low carb cinnamon roll.  And so it was, a few weeks back, that a biscuit-y type recipe turned out well enough for me to think it might just translate.

Low Carb Cinnamon Rolls

The Results: I really loved these. They were tender and moist and perfectly cinnamon-y. Again, they aren’t like yeast dough, but very similar to cinnamon rolls made with biscuit dough. They don’t rise and spread all that much, but I am not sure I really care because flavour and texture were spot on. And my kids loved them too, which is always worth some bonus points in my eyes. To be able to have a cinnamon roll with my coffee in the morning was just heavenly.

Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yield: 8

Ingredients

    Dough:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tbsp granulated erythritol (I used Swerve)
  • 3 tbsp unflavored whey protein powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar substitute (I used Ideal)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Cream Cheese Icing
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp powdered erythritol (I used Swerve)
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F and grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, erythritol, whey protein, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.
  3. Stir in eggs and butter until dough comes together. It will be quite sticky.
  4. Turn out dough onto a large piece of parchment, and then pat into a rough rectangle.
  5. Top with another piece of parchment and roll out to about 10x8 inches. Peel off top piece of parchment paper.
  6. Brush dough with melted butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar substitute and cinnamon, going almost right to edges.
  7. Starting with the far, longer edge of your dough, gently lift away from the parchment and roll up tightly towards you. Pinch the seam to seal.
  8. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut into 8 equal portions. Place in prepared cake pan, just barely touching each other, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until just golden brown. Remove and let cool 10 minutes.
  9. For the Frosting, beat all ingredients in a medium bowl and then pipe or spread onto warm rolls.

Notes

Serves 8. Each serving has 7.1g of carbs and 3 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 4.1 g

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Comments

  1. These sound amazing! I love that they use almond flour, definitely going to have to try these!

  2. I think these sounds like a wonderful alternative. I’m very sensitive to sugar (major rush followed by a major crash) so it would make sense for me to incorporate more recipes like this into my diet.

    • I reflect back now and I realize that I was really sensitive in that way to sugar too. Just keep your eye on that, you don’t want to end up with diabetes like me! ;)

  3. The almond dough alone is delicious enough, let alone when it’s drizzled with cheese icing!

  4. Oh my word. I am utterly *delighted* you’ve posted this recipe!

  5. They sound great! I was just thinking about making cinnamon rolls. :)

  6. I can’t express how delighted I am with your timing. It’s my birthday next week and I was just deliberating on what to do. I was gonna make your cinnamon pecan streusel bread… til I saw this!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  7. Carolyn, you are the queen of recreating regular treats into low-carb treats! These look amazing.

  8. Katherine says:

    I’m looking forward to trying these, but I am curious, does the protein powder serve a baking function? Or does it just up the nutritional content?

    • Carolyn says:

      It does, actually. Gluten is a protein and in its absence, a substitute protein helps baked goods rise and set properly. There are other protein powders, like hemp and soy. I’m not a fan of soy, and personally would much rather use whey. I’ve never tried hemp.

  9. Hmmm. Delicious sounding (and looking). Now, if only I had some heavy cream in the house….

  10. Wow great job on making these low carb… it’s so hard to resist breads but now we can eat these with no guilt thank you!

  11. I really need to go out an explore some other flours. I play it safe with white, wheat and oat. I know I am missing out.

  12. The recipe looks great!

  13. Awesome, Carolyn – that sounds like a breakthrough recipe!

  14. I love the process by which you go through to get your recipes just right. You’re an inspiration to “wing it” type bakers like me! Another winner, my friend! Hope you are having a wonderful summer :)

  15. Margaret says:

    I enjoy your blog very much. I don’t need gluten free etc, but some of my friends do and I pass recipes along when I think someone would be interested. I love nuts any and all nuts both the edible ones and most of the two-legged variety. My problem is with a grandson who is nut sensitive, the edible kind. This of course means a lot more reading of labels. grocery shopping can be a pain, and it seems nut free is a license to steal even more than the gluten free products. Sad.

    • Carolyn says:

      Sorry about your grandson. Nut-free is hard to find and hard to do! It’s so limiting. For my kids, their schools are nut-free so I often have to come up with recipes that have no nuts or nut flours.

  16. Oh Carolyn! These look amazing!! Love the use of almond flour!

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  18. Have you made this same dough without the xanthan gum? I’ve omitted it from other recipes and things have turned out fine… as far as I can tell since I haven’t compared it to recipes where I’ve used it. (It seems to me I’ve seen it in the whole foods store but it was more than I was willing to spend that day. I’m just wondering if the use of it makes that big of a noticeable difference?)

    • I haven’t made this particular dough without the xanthan. I have on occasion made things without…depending on the baked good, some hold together, some get really crumbly. Since you are rolling this one, I would be afraid it wouldn’t hold together well without. The dough is fragile enough as it is. I know a bag of xanthan seems really expensive, but since you only use about 1 tsp at most, it lasts a loooooooong time. I keep it in a jar in my freezer and the one bag I bought 2 years ago is still going strong. I still have about 1/4 of it left!

  19. I made these today. My husband said there were great and “feel free to make these again!”. But they were VERY sticky. They didn’t resemble buns like your pics. So sticky that next time I’m going to dump the batter in a pan and put the “filling” on top. It will turn out more like a snack cake but I think it will taste the same.

    • Carolyn says:

      Hmmm. My dough was sticky, certainly, but they didn’t bake up all that sticky. What kind of almond flour did you use? If you find your dough too sticky next time, try adding a few more tablespoons of almond flour. I think different brands can sometimes lend to different results. But once baked, they really shouldn’t be all that sticky.

  20. Carolyn…. I haven’t had a cinnamon roll for quite some time, and these beauties immediately caught my eye. My mom is diabetic, and we try to make things healthier for her. I saw almond flour in the store the other day and actually had it in my hand, but didn’t get it. Now I’m kicking myself!
    I admire your ability to create recipes!! I can follow and tweek, but not very often create. Well done!

  21. I’m always so impressed at your ability to adapt classic recipes into low carb versions. It looks as though you’ve done it again with these cinnamon rolls!

  22. I love cooking with almond flour. These look wonderful!!

  23. These look amazing…can’t wait to try them!!

  24. I love hearing about your process for recipe discovery. You’re proof positive that necessity is the mother of invention. You’re able to put ingredients together in ways I could never dream, because I don’t have to. You’re amazing. These look delicious.

  25. These look amazingly perfect. I have tried with yeast even though gluten free dough does not rise like regular dough but it does give a bread like texture and flavor.

  26. Wow!! I was just thinking this month that I would love to find a sugar free, gluten-free cinnamon roll recipe! What a blessing to find this. I am seriously psyched and can’t wait to try these. :)

  27. These look wonderful! BOOKMARKED

  28. I haven’t had a cinnamon roll in a while now, finding myself too lazy to get up way to early to make sure they are ready just in time for breakfast with the rest of the family.
    Love your quick version, the rolls look perfect!

  29. Just made 1/2 recipe – very good, really enjoy them. Do you think they would freeze well?
    Thanks for all your hard work!!!

    • Carolyn says:

      They would probably freeze just fine without the frosting. I am not so sure about with!

      • Well, my 1/2 batch is gone!! My husband said I could makes these every day!
        So probably freezing won’t be necessary, but I think I will make two batches and freeze one, would be nice to know there is such goodness in the freezer.

  30. These look delicious, Carolyn!

  31. These were AMAZING! My whole family loved them:) Thanks so much for doing what you do…I especially loved the texture!

  32. Hello there, I baked these and they came out looking and feeling nice but they tasted and smelled awful sadly.

    I had to use milk protein (i.e. whey and casein) instead of pure whey, and sweet’n'low brown substitute – do you think that would have made the difference? They tasted too much of butter, hardly at all of cinnamon and had a real hit of chemical aftertaste.

    • Carolyn says:

      I haven’t ever heard of milk protein so I don’t know what that would do to it, but the sweet and low would absolutely give you a chemical aftertaste. Several people have made these and had the same good results I did, so I do think it has to be your substitutions causing the problem.

      • I live in Northern Ireland so I had to order the sweet’n'low – I couldn’t find any other brown sugar sub. Such a pity as they look so good! Thanks for your reply.

        • Carolyn says:

          Can you get any other sweetener instead? Even Splenda might work better than Sweet n low. Erythritol would be good, if you can find any.

        • Dinah Cox-Moore says:

          WheyLow makes a brown sugar substitute that is fantastic. I use it in everything. It’s a bit pricey but I always wait for coupons. I’m waiting on an order from them right now. I was hoping it would be here by Christmas, darn it….

  33. Croixrunner says:

    I hadn’t had a cinnamon roll for a year due to my new low carb life style, a decent cinnamon roll And coffee seemed too much to ask for considering my clutzness in the kitchen especially with baking and my lack of time. I saw these on your blog and decided to wake myself up at 5am the next morning to attempt this recipe, I was that excited. THEY ARE SO GOOD. I would almost say life changing. I’m so glad to have discovered your blog (thru Maria.) And now I see you have the next missing link in my old pastry repertoire …white chocolate scones (which I will add blueberries.) Please never stop sharing your culinary prowess.

  34. My mum is diabetic so when I’m buying something for the family to eat, I don’t like to leave her out. She’s more of a savory person anyway but cinnamon is a big hit all round, so I knew cinnamon rolls like these would be perfect. I noticed as well, like someone above, that mine were quite sticky as well which I wasn’t really expecting, so I might butter the pan next time if only to save on the washing up effort. Great recipe, did the trick.

  35. I made your cinnamon rolls this weekend and I must say they are fantastic! I used to love making cinnamon rolls back in my wheat/sugar eating days and have missed being able to make such a tasty treat. But these were wonderful, thanks for making and sharing such a great recipe. I think the next time I make them I will put the dough in the fridge to firm up a bit before a roll it out. I did struggle a bit with cutting the rolls but they taste really great even if they look a little smooshed, lol.

  36. Hi, I was just wondering if I could make these with erythritol instead of the brown sugar substitute?

  37. My (far more talented than I) 14 year old daughter who loves to cook made these for me after I showed her the recipe. Yum!!! My husband and I are so happy to be able to have cinnamon rolls again! Now I’ll be asking her to make them every weekend :). Thanks for the great recipe.

  38. I really want to try these but I dont have any unflavored protein powder. Do you think they would still come out ok if I omit that ingredient?

  39. Oh my goodness! These look so good. I wish I can make these but I found out a year ago that my son is allergic to peanuts and treenuts. He is also gluten free (so am I). Finding recipes are really hard but this has caught my eye. Is there another gluten-free flour that I can use in place of the almond flour?

    • There would be no direct substitution for any other GF flour, because they have very different properties. But if you can find a gluten free biscuit recipe, you could probably make it and roll it out the way I did here, fill and roll up again. That might work.

      • Okay, I will see if I can experiment with that. Also, on the whey protein powder, there is a brand that I use that has a “cinnamon bun” flavor. Is it okay that I use that instead? It is the only brand that I like and they don’t sell unflavored. It is sweetened with stevia.

  40. Dinah Cox-Moore says:

    I made these just now, and they are REALLY good, and not nearly as hard as I thought they would be. I didn’t have the Xanther Gum, so I used Gar Gum, but will get some Xanther next time I’m at a store that has it. I’m out of brown sugar now, so may make these for christmas morning and just use regular WheyLow. I think my boys would love them. Thank you!

  41. I made these this morning. They were delicious by itself (no icing) but they spread when it cooked…A LOT. So it took a bit longer to cook. The icing had no taste to me; it tasted like plain old cream cheese. I put some on one roll and I didn’t like it. I must be weird.lol.

  42. Very good recipe, Carolyn! Thank you so much!

  43. These had a great texture, but mine were very salty. I’m planning to try them again with half the salt and baking soda. Did anyone else have this problem?

    • Yes, Michele, I thought mine were a bit salty too. I hesitated putting the salt in at all after a whole teaspoon of soda AND two of baking powder. But I went ahead – and now think doing what you’ve suggested will be a good idea next time around. Otherwise they were pretty good!

  44. Try using peanut flour. I use it quite a bit, makes GREAT pancakes. Mixes well with almond flour too. [needs extra moistner, like more eggs, in recipes]. My favorite brand is protein plus…best flavor IMHO.

  45. Wow, these look so delectable. I really miss cinnamon rolls. Your posts are fantastic :)

  46. Would this work by using strictly stevia as a sweetener? I hear sweetleaf has no bitter after taste in the original no added flavor extract form and it also comes with flavors like vanilla and toffee which are popular, has anybody tried this?

  47. I made these today with xylitol and hemp protein powder and yuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!! Thank you!

  48. I wanted a new treat and I have not had cinnamon rolls in over a year since going gluten free/sugar free. Thank you! This recipe was yummy! :)

  49. My husband used to make cinnamon rolls often and keeps saying he’s going to make them “on Sunday.” Of course, I try and usually succeed at talking him out of it. When we were going to have a friend for brunch this morning, I handed this recipe to my husband and said, “here are your cinnamon rolls, you think you can do this?” Oh yeah, they were really really good! My eighteen-year-old son, who does not like low-carb anything, inhaled them! A new Sunday favorite.

  50. Do you think using vanilla whey protein powder would change the flavor too much? (I love your site and how you’ve done all the work for us!! I constantly recommend your recipes on FB.) Thanks so much!
    Sherri

    • Is your vanilla whey sweetened at all? Go ahead and use but cut back on any sweetener if it is and leave out any vanilla extract.

  51. hi carolyn……posted you before about calorie count……none listed for this one….the dr still wants a little more weight off but i am stuck for about 8 months (2yrs diabetic) so he told me to watch my calorie count plus carbs and sugar…………the second question is whey powder……..a) why do you use it b) do you need to 3) will any type purchased from health food store be ok………….thanks for taking the trouble to respond by after 65 yrs this new lifestyle is not only challenging but confusing with all the new products i have been and need to be introduced with…………….thanks again …..you are a true God send for older folks like me…….could not eat “normally” without you

    • Hi Edna…in addition to the whey protein, make sure you are getting really finely ground almond flour for the rolls.

  52. hello carolyn just me again……edna……….please disregard above question……i love cinnamon rolls so much i am going to make them but just eat two a week…….as for the whey powder i was looking at another post by the recipe and they asked so i found out that you need whey powder ……..will be going shopping tomorrow so will visit my health
    food store and purchase some…………….sorry for bothering you………….check into your site daily if nothing is posted on my wall…………keep up the great work

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