This Carrot Loaf combines the flavors of carrots, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey for a treat that’s stuffed with a honey sweetened cream cheese swirl surprise. This delicious treat is perfect to make for Easter, Mother’s Day or a springtime brunch!
The flavors in carrot cakes or loaves are complex and pair together beautifully. The freshness of carrot combines with warming spices makes them great desserts to help transition from winter to spring.
This carrot bread contains an extra layer of flavor and texture coming from a mixture of cream cheese and honey that’s swirled into the loaf before baking making every bite dense and creamy. It’s a treat that’s decadent enough to eat at home for dessert or to bring to a brunch that everyone will enjoy!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s made with simple ingredients. You can find all the ingredients you need to make this loaf in your local grocery store making it an easy dessert option in a pinch.
- It’s dense and creamy. You’ll get a dense and moist cake that comes from the loaf and a creamy sweet swirl on the inside pairing together 2 perfect textures in baked goods.
- It’s versatile. The flavors in this dessert are halfway between breakfast and dessert making it a great option to bring to a party or just to have for dessert or even breakfast.
- You can freeze it. Double or triple the batch and freeze the baked loaf for later if it lasts that long!
- It can be customized. Since there are many spices in this carrot loaf, you can customize them to your liking. Don’t like ginger? Omit it. You can even add different types of mixins like chopped nuts or raisins.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the cream cheese swirl:
- Neufchatel Cream Cheese – This is the French version of cream cheese and contains slightly less fat content. Fee free to use regular cream cheese if you can’t find it.
- Honey – Honey pairs well with all the flavors and spices in carrot cake. You can also use maple syrup.
- Egg White – Egg white helps bind the cream cheese filling together and gives it the perfect smooth texture.
For the carrot bread:
- Shredded Carrots – Wash and peel carrots and use a box grater to make the carrots a perfect size for the loaf.
- Sugar & Light Brown Sugar – The mix of these two sugars will help keep the carrot loaf sweet and soft.
- Butter / Vegetable Oil – You’ll need butter to add a dense richness and buttery flavor to the loaf. You can also use your favorite cooking oil like vegetable oil or coconut oil.
- Eggs – Help bind the loaf helping it set and form a crust while baking.
- Whole Wheat and All Purpose Flour – The blend of these two flours offer a hearty texture to the loaf batter that bakes up beautifully. You can substitute the whole wheat with all purpose, however the texture may be slightly different.
- Baking Powder – Helps the bread rise slightly and get fluffy.
- Salt – Balances all the ingredients and sweet flavors.
- Warming Spices – You’ll use a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger to give the loaf a warming spice layer that you can adjust.
- Walnuts – Chopped walnuts add texture and a nutty flavor to the carrot loaf. You can omit, if desired.
How to Make Carrot Loaf with Cream Cheese Swirl
- Preheat the oven: Make sure your oven is at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix the cream cheese swirl: Use a stand mixer to combine the cream cheese, honey and egg white together until smooth.
- Mix wet ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk carrots, sugars, oil and eggs until smooth.
- Stir together dry ingredients: In a separate large bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until combined. Fold the wet ingredients into dry until fully combined without overworking.
- Assemble the carrot loaf: Pour half the batter on the bottom of a greased 9X5 baking pan. Then add the cream cheese swirl mixture spreading it evenly over the top with a spatula. Pour remaining batter on top of the cream cheese layer.
- Bake and serve: Bake in the oven for one hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes after baking and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.
- Use fresh carrots – Do not use pre-shredded carrots you’d normally find at the grocery store. These tend to be dried out and too big which throws off the texture.
- Shred Carrots – Shredding your own carrots with the medium side of a box grater gives the loaf a perfect texture while retaining moisture.
- Cool Completely – This carrot loaf needs to be completely cooled before serving as the loaf needs time to set before slicing, especially with it having 2 different textures.
- Customize the flavor of the carrot bread to your liking by adding more or less spice or even changing the walnuts to pecans. You can also add dried fruit such as raisins or dried cranberries.
Storing and Freezing
- Storing: Since there is cream cheese in this loaf, you’ll need to store it in the fridge in an airtight container where it will last up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Wrap the entire loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap, then in foil. Transfer the slices or wrapped loaf to a freezer safe bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw the carrot loaf in your fridge overnight until completely defrosted and serve cold or at room temperature.
More Brunch Dessert Recipes
- Moist Carrot Cake
- Mini Carrot Cheesecakes
- Homemade Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Coffee Cake Muffins
- Raspberry Coffee Cake
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Carrot Loaf with Cream Cheese Swirl
For the cream cheese swirl:
- 1 8 ounce package Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 egg white
For the bread:
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, or vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
For the cream cheese swirl:
- In the bowl an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, honey and egg white until smooth.
- In a large bowl, whisk carrots, sugars, oil and eggs until smooth. In a separate large bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until combined. Add sugar-oil mixture to flour mixture; stir to combine. Fold nuts into mixture.
For the bread:
- Pour half of batter into loaf pan. Top with cream cheese mixture; smooth with a spatula. Top with remaining batter; smooth with spatula.
- Bake one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Cream Cheese: You can substitute with regular cream cheese.
- Nuts: You can omit the nuts or substitute with raisins or chocolate chips.
- Butter / Vegetable Oil: You can use butter or vegetable oil. Or substitute with another oil like coconut oil.
This recipe was originally published in 2014 with permission from Stephanie of Girl Versus Dough. The recipe comes from her book Quick Bread Love eCookbook. This post was updated in March 2021 with new photos and tips.