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.