Why you should bake from scratch

The other day I was looking at a recipe for Pineapple upside down cake at Betty Crocker.com. The recipe requires that you buy their yellow cake mix. Finding gluten-free cake mixes can be a challenge. I often have to order them online.

I went to two different stores yesterday and could not find the Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix. I did, however, find that Pillsbury now makes a Gluten-free yellow cake mix. As I always do I read the label. Not only does this mix contain whey, but also ingredients I really don’t want to ingest.




Ingredients: Rice Flour, Sugar, Potato Starch, Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate), Pea Fiber, Cellulose, Tapioca Starch, Contains 2% or Less of: Canola Oil, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Propylene Glycol Esters of Fatty Acids, Distilled Monoglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Soy Lecithin, Whey, Sodium Caseinate, Palm Kernel Oil, Yellow 5, Red 40, Citric Acid and BHT (Antioxidants).

Like ethylene glycol, propylene glycol is able to lower the freezing point of water, and so it is used as aircraft de-icing fluid. Water-propylene glycol mixtures dyed pink to indicate the mixture is relatively nontoxic are sold under the name of RV or marine antifreeze.

Propylene glycol USP/EP (pharmaceutical grade) is the only grade appropriate for application in food due to its handling practices.

Propylene glycol USP/EP is the ideal carrier of a large variety of flavors that give most of today’s food and beverage their distinctive taste. The substance itself is color, taste and odorless, and it does not react on its own, which means that it can perform its function without impacting on other product attributes.

This product has been confirmed safe, and provides unique inherent properties with regard to holding/attracting both water- and oil-based substances. In food, it is used to retain food color pigments and provide for homogeneous distribution within the mixture. Propylene glycol USP/EP is approved for use as a food additive under E-number E 1520 (with a strict maximum limit of 1 g/kg in human foodstuffs). Direct food contact uses include:

  • solvent and carrier for flavor and color in food and beverage manufacturing processes, for drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets
  • thickener, clarifier, and stabilizer in food and beverage such as beer, salad dressings or baking mixtures

In a word, yuck!  Safe indeed!  Whey is milk protein.  And who wants all of those additives?  I also find cake mixes to be very artificial in taste and color.

I decided to go ahead make my yellow cake for the pineapple upside down cake from scratch using a recipe from King Arthur’s website.   I have modified the recipe to be gluten and dairy free.

Gluten and dairy free Pineapple Upside Down Cake



  • 1/4 cup dairy free spread
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings or chunks, in juice, drained


  • 3 tablespoons dairy free spread
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups King Arthur Measure for Measure flour
  • 1/2 cup dairy free milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round or 8″ square cake pan.
  2. To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Space the pineapple rings or chunks atop the brown sugar mixture. 
  4. To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.
  5. Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.
  7. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. It may not cover the pineapple entirely; that’s OK.
  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

The cake turned out moist and delicious with a subtle vanilla flavor.  The pineapple topping is sweet candied perfection.  You can see the result here:


I know that using a mix is a shortcut that can certainly serve a purpose.  I am not above using mixes, but, before you reach for a mix, read the ingredients.  Decide for yourself if you want to put all of those chemicals into your body, and if doing so can be avoided by making your baked goods from scratch.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Espirational says:

    I’ve been a from scratch baker for a very long time. It certainly makes it easier to control exactly what goes in a cake. Your upside down cake looks good.


    1. glutenfreelady says:

      Thanks so much! I can’t believe the crap they put in mixes. Not all of them do but it pays to read labels.


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