I 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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 325F and grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter.
- In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, erythritol, whey protein, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.
- Stir in eggs and butter until dough comes together. It will be quite sticky.
- Turn out dough onto a large piece of parchment, and then pat into a rough rectangle.
- Top with another piece of parchment and roll out to about 10x8 inches. Peel off top piece of parchment paper.
- Brush dough with melted butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar substitute and cinnamon, going almost right to edges.
- 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.
- 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.
- For the Frosting, beat all ingredients in a medium bowl and then pipe or spread onto warm rolls.
Serves 8. Each serving has 7.1g of carbs and 3 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 4.1 g