Raspberry Sweet Rolls

In late May and early June as the weather begins to abandon the turbulent nature of a Southeastern PA spring, excitement and anticipation build as we await the emergence of reds to highlight themselves from the foliage in the strawberry fields and raspberry patches.

The moment these colors begin to pop onto the landscape, I’m ready to say goodbye to soups, stews, and hearty meals of the winter and early spring and ready to embrace flavors that embody natural color, acids, and (of course) sugars.

I am in no way, shape, or form knocking cinnamon rolls. But, those warming notes are for a different season! These Raspberry Lemon Sweet Rolls are a break from tradition and an embrace of the warm months and fruitful bounty that is ahead.

Raspberry Sweet Rolls

For the Dough: 

– ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

– 2 cups whole milk, warm to the touch registering between 100-110˚ to be sure yeast isn’t damaged

– ½ cup granulated sugar

– 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

– 5 cups flour, divided

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 2 teaspoons salt



– 1/2 cup softened butter

– ¾ cup brown sugar

– ¼ cup granulated sugar

– 1 to 1 ½ pint fresh raspberries

– Zest of 1 large lemon

– 1 ½ teaspoons of cornstarch

For the Frosting: 

– 4 oz. cream cheese, softened

– 2 tablespoons butter, melted

– 1 tablespoon of whole milk

– 1 tablespoon of raspberry juice *See Step 6 under Assembling the Rolls

– 1 teaspoon of lemon zest

– 1 cup powdered sugar


For the Dough – 

  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the warm milk, sugar, and melted butter. The mixture should be just warm, registering between 100-110˚F (37-43˚C). If any warmer, allow to cool slightly, otherwise you will risk shocking and killing your yeast.

Tip: I like to heat the milk and butter (cut into small cubes) in the microwave in the bowl. This will warm the glass up as well and create a nice cozy bathtub for the yeast when you add them.

  1. Once the mixture is at the proper temperature, sprinkle the yeast evenly over the milk mixture, stir, and let sit in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the yeast has bloomed.
  2. Add 4 cups (500 g) of flour to the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Be sure not to overwork the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until nearly doubled in size.
  4. Butter or spray 2 9-inch (23 cm) round baking pans and set aside.

For the Filling

  1. In the last 5 minutes of the rise, using a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar, raspberries, lemon zest and corn starch.
  2. Gently mix them all together. Try not to break down the raspberries too much or they will juice.

Assembling the Rolls: 

  1. Uncover dough and add the remaining cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well, and place on a clean surface you are comfortable cutting on. Leave a bit of flour nearby to use as needed, but try not to incorporate too much.
  2. Gently knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough just loses its stickiness and does not stick to the surface or your hands. The dough should be very smooth and spring back when poked.
  3. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle
  4. Spread the softened butter over the entire dough rectangle, followed by the raspberry filling.
  5. Starting from one long end, roll up the dough into a long log.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into even pieces, about 1½ inches (8cm) thick. Place the rolls in the prepared pans, 1 in the center and about 6 around the sides. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 35-45 minutes, until expanded by about half of their original size.
    Note: As you cut, some of the raspberry filling will fall out. I collect this and strain it in as fine mesh strainer and add the remaining juice to my frosting.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
  8. Bake the sweet rolls for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.

For the Frosting 

  1. While the raspberry lemon sweet rolls are baking, make the frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, melted butter, milk, lemon zest and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth and runny. *This is where you can add any reserved juice from step 6 of the previous directions.
  2. When the sweet rolls are finished baking, let cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Spread the frosting over the sweet rolls and enjoy!