This gluten free carrot pineapple cake just tastes like the best classic carrot cake you’ve ever had. The crushed pineapple in the batter brings it all the way to amazing. ✨
It doesn’t taste like pineapple ??
I’ve always loved every detail of Entenmann’s boxed cakes, all the way down to how everyone serves them right in the box. After publishing my 4th cookbook, Gluten Free Classic Snacks, I was still hooked on recreating old gluteny favorites and it was right around Easter, so I went for the Entenmann’s iced carrot cake.
I started the way I always do when making a copycat recipe: the ingredient list on the box (that was me, loitering in the snacks aisle of the grocery store for an hour, snapping photos and taking notes!). Everything looked pretty much like you’d expect for a carrot cake—but then I noticed something interesting: pineapple.
I really love pineapple cakes, but I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of adding pineapple to a carrot cake. I was afraid that it would compete with the shredded carrots and cinnamon and just lead to taste bud confusion. But I had never even noticed the pineapple in the boxed cake, so it was worth a try.
In place of milk or water, I used canned crushed pineapple in its own juices. It really helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the shredded carrots in the cake and helps everything retain its moisture. Those Entenmann’s people are so smart.
All about the dreamy cream cheese icing
Entenmann’s ingredient list includes corn syrup. First of all, that’s not at all the same as high fructose corn syrup! Personally, I find light corn syrup to be super useful in candy making and occasionally in baking, since it really helps prevent sugar from crystallizing.
I found that when I added just a couple tablespoons of light corn syrup to the cream cheese icing, it helped make it stable at room temperature and slice really cleanly. You can leave it out if you’re dead set against it, but you’ll find that the icing needs to be kept chilled a bit as it will be less firm.
Of course, you don’t have to “decorate” the icing with the tines of a fork and a spoon. That’s just a fun extra step to ensure that the cake looks just like the actual Entenmann’s iced carrot cake.
How to make the most tender and fluffy carrot cake
Of course, I hope you’ll follow the recipe exactly as written, measuring all of your ingredients carefully by weight, not volume. Every week I get emails from readers who have gone out of their way to compare the weight and volume of their ingredients as they measure them out and get worried when they don’t correspond to my ingredients.
But that’s the whole point of measuring by weight, not volume! Volume is simply too variable (volume containers are not standardized), and human error is unavoidable.
When I first developed this recipe, I didn’t bother to beat the wet ingredients separately from the dry ingredients. The recipe still turned out great, of course, or I wouldn’t have published it, I promise. But when I beat the wet ingredients well, I found that the cake baked more evenly and was less likely to burn on the bottom.
That just means that you’ll need to start by whisking together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, tossing in the grated carrots and raisins and setting that bowl aside. Then, beat the wet ingredients, including the sugars, really well before combining everything.
Baking the cake at 325°F for a few more minutes, rather than 350°F which is standard for most cakes, also helps ensure that the cake bakes perfectly every time.
Ingredients and substitutions
Luckily, there aren’t many additional allergens in this recipe. But here are my recommendations for what we’ve got:
Dairy-free: The cake itself, like most carrot cakes, is made with a neutral oil in the batter, not butter. That means that the cake is naturally dairy-free. The cream cheese icing is definitely made with dairy, though.
I’ve successfully made cream cheese icing without dairy, though. Please see the ingredients and substitutions section in my recipe for gluten free carrot cake or cupcakes for all the details.
Egg-free: There are 4 eggs in this recipe, so I’m afraid I really don’t think it can be made without eggs entirely. They’re doing some really heavy lifting in this recipe! So sorry.
Corn-free: In place of cornstarch, try using arrowroot. It should work just fine. Potato starch would also probably be fine.
Raisins: Raisins in baked goods aren’t usually a favorite of mine. I even make my classic oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips instead of raisins! You can replace them here with chopped nuts, or even chocolate chips. I wouldn’t leave them out without a replacement, though, since the recipe is built around a mix-in.
I find that it’s really important to use good quality raisins. If you’re concerned that your raisins aren’t very fresh (which mine often aren’t since I don’t bake with them all the time), try soaking them in hot water for a couple minutes and then laying them out on a paper towel to dry. Measure the amount for the recipe by weight after you’ve revived your raisins. If you’d prefer, try using currants if they’re available. They tend to be more tender than raisins.
Gluten Free Carrot Pineapple Cake | Entenmann’s Style
For the cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons (228 g) all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
6 tablespoons (54 g) cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups (270 g) peeled and grated carrots
3/4 cup (120 g) raisins
4 eggs (240 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1/2 cup (112 g) neutral oil (vegetable, canola, or grapeseed all work well)
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (130 g) canned crushed pineapple, in its own juice (heavy on the juice)
For the Cream Cheese Icing
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons (42 g) light corn syrup (optional)
3 to 3 1/2 cups (345 g to 403 g) confectioners’ sugar
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and line it with criss-crossed sheets of unbleached parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
Make the cake batter. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine well. Add the shredded carrots and raisins, and mix to combine and separate all of the raisins and carrots from one another. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, place the eggs, oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and crushed pineapple in its juice, and beat with a handheld mixer until well-combined. Create a well in the center of the bowl of dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and mix to combine well. The batter will be thickly pourable.
Bake the cake. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and shake back and forth to distribute the batter evenly in a single layer. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown all over and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs attached. Remove the pan from the oven from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing. While the cake is cooling, make the icing. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer), place the cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium speed until soft and fluffy. Add the salt, optional corn syrup and 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Mix on low speed until the sugar is absorbed. Then, turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the frosting is thickened and fluffy. Add more confectioners’ sugar as necessary to achieve the desired thickness. If you haven’t used the corn syrup, cover the bowl and place the frosting in the refrigerator to chill until stiffened slightly, about 15 minutes. Cover the cooled cake in a thick, even layer of frosting. To make the Entenmann’s-style decoration on the icing, drag the tines of a large fork in the frosting across the cake, leaving 1-inch between lines and cleaning the tines in between. Then, drag a wet spoon lightly across the lines from the fork tines in a diagonal, leaving 1-inch between diagonal lines. Slice into squares and serve.
Originally published on the blog in 2015. Photos, video, and some text new; recipe method modified slightly.