Carrot Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl

Love carrot cake but don’t want to bake and frost a layer cake?  This carrot bundt cake with a cream cheese swirl and cream cheese frosting is the answer!  Moist, delicious, and the best part: easy to make with minimal decorating necessary.

a slice of carrot bundt with cream cheese swirl on a blue plate

Springtime and carrot cakes always go hand in hand.  And the warmer weather and shining sun tell me that springtime has arrived!

Here in the mid-Atlantic, carrot season is really June through September, so I always found this spring association with carrot cakes a little confusing.

Is it because somehow Easter is represented by a rabbit and rabbits eat carrots?  Do families buy bags of carrots to leave out for the Easter Bunny and then need something to do with all the carrots?

Even though carrots and spring don’t really make sense, I’m just going to go ahead and play along, because carrot cakes are delicious.

(And fortunately thanks to modern grocery stores, we can get carrots year round, so this is equally perfect in all seasons, if you’re a carrot cake lover!)

carrot bundt cake covered in cream cheese frosting on a white cake stand

Carrot Cake as a Bundt Cake

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it again: bundt cakes are my favorite form of cake.  They’re easier than decorating a layer cake but fancier than a sheet cake.

(Prefer your carrot cake as a layer cake?  Don’t miss my carrot cake with lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe!)

Perfect for birthdays, holidays (Easter dessert!), or any old day you feel like a cake, because they’re pretty easy to make.

Carrot cake translates especially well to a bundt cake because it’s already a pretty dense cake.  Packing the cake full of carrots makes it extra moist, which weighs down the cake a bit.

It’s also perfect for adding in whatever “extras” you like.  I like mine with nuts for a little crunch (pecans are my favorite; walnuts are good, too) but include an option for raisins as well, if you’re a raisin in your cake person.

(I do not, however, include an option for pineapple, because I feel very strongly that pineapple does not belong in a carrot cake!)

Because this is a bundt cake, we can also include a cream cheese swirl in the middle — it’s like a second layer of frosting hiding in the middle!

Like other bundt cakes, this carrot bundt cake is easy to decorate, while still looking worthy of a celebration.

Spread on the frosting with a spatula (no need to perfectly frost or break out a piping bag), top with some nuts in a pretty pattern (if desired) and you’re done!

side by side photos showing a bundt cake pan with a layer of carrot cake batter and with a layer of cream cheese swirl on top of the batter

Refrigerate Carrot Cake

A question I always get about carrot cakes is whether or not they have to be refrigerated. 

If they have cream cheese frosting, the answer is YES!

How do you determine if you have to refrigerate something with cream cheese?  The answer is, as always, science!  It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!

Kitchen Chemistry

Sugar acts as a preservative.  Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water, and can absorb the water from dairy, reducing the amount of free water which is necessary for bacterial growth.  Butter, cream, and cream cheese are stabilized by all the sugar, and thus safe to store at room temperature for up to three days if the sugar content is sufficient.

Cream cheese is approximately 33% fat and 55% water.

You need approximately one pound of confectioners sugar (4 cups) per half pound (8 ounces) of cream cheese in order to stabilize the frosting at room temperature.

This frosting contains 4 ounces of cream cheese and 2 cups of confectioners sugar… but we also have a few additional tablespoons of milk, adding to the water content.

Therefore, the excess water content is high enough that bacteria can thrive at room temperature — so store this carrot bundt cake in the refrigerator!

a baked carrot bund cake still in the bundt pan surrounded by carrots, eggs, and pecans

Tips and Tricks for the Best Carrot Bundt Cake

  1. New to baking in bundt pans? Looking for the best tips and tricks to ensure your cake doesn’t stick? Check out THIS POST for all my best bundt tips!
  2. Use freshly grated carrots, not a pre-shredded bag.  Pre-shredded carrots dry out, and the trick to a great moist bundt cake is the extra moisture from the carrots.  Grate your carrots by hand or with the shredding disk for a food processor immediately before making the cake.
  3. Use room temperature ingredients.  Refrigerated cream cheese is hard to mix and incorporate; by using your cream cheese and milk at room temperature, ingredients will mix more evenly and smoothly.
  4. Refrigerate the cake.  Because of the cream cheese swirl and cream cheese frosting, the cake should be stored in the refrigerator.

a slice of carrot bundt cake on a blue dessert plate showing a layer of cream cheese frosting baked into the cake

More Bundt Cake Recipes:

Carrot Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl

Carrot Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl

Yield: Serves 16
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

An easy and moist carrot cake baked in a bundt pan with a cream cheese swirl and cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (213 grams) brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (297 grams) vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (396 grams) freshly shredded carrots, tightly packed (about 1 pound)
  • 2/3 cup (75 grams) chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup (150 grams) raisins (optional)

For the Cream Cheese Swirl

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups (227 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) halved pecans for decorating, optional

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
    2. Make the carrot cake batter. Using an electric mixer, beat together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs on medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly pour in the oil. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat an additional 1 minute, until batter has lightened in color. Turn the mixer to low and mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger, until just combined and no large streaks of flour remain. Stir in the shredded carrots, pecans (if using), and raisins (if using).
    3. Make the cream cheese swirl filling. Using a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer to high and beat an additional 2 minutes until all ingredients are combined.
    4. Bake the cake. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. Pour half the batter, then spread an even layer of the cream cheese filling on top of the cake batter. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 60-65 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
    5. Make the frosting. While the cake cools, make the frosting. Combine cream cheese, milk, and confectioners sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Use a spatula to spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake and decorate with pecans, if desired.

Notes

  1. Use freshly grated carrots. Pre-shredded carrots dry out, and the trick to a great moist bundt cake is the extra moisture from the carrots.  Grate your carrots by hand or with the shredding disk for a food processor immediately before making the cake.
  2. Use room temperature ingredients.  Refrigerated cream cheese is hard to mix and incorporate; by using your cream cheese and milk at room temperature, ingredients will mix more evenly and smoothly.
  3. Refrigerate the cake Because of the cream cheese swirl and cream cheese frosting, the cake should be stored in the refrigerator.


Cake can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap or an an airtight container, for up to one week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 607Total Fat: 37.8gCarbohydrates: 62.9gProtein: 6.7g
Carrot Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl: this easy and moist carrot cake is baked in a bundt pan and topped with cream cheese frosting.  Don't forget the swirl of cream cheese stuffed in the middle! #bunsenburnerbakery #cake #bundtcake #carrotcake