Mini Carrot Cake Loaves with Baked Cream Cheese Topping

A small carrot cake loaf sitting in front of another

I love carrot cake. Yes it can be hit or miss, but for the most part as long as raisins (and pineapple) are out of the picture, I’ll gobble it up at any given chance! Since Easter is just around the corner I thought I’d make myself some little loaves to snack on over the next few days. Instead of topping them with a fresh cream cheese frosting, I opted for a cheesecake-like batter that would go on top prior to baking. I’m not a big frosting fan (I find it a little too sweet, especially for breads) but I love the texture of cheesecake, so it turned out to be a really good last minute decision! They baked evenly and the topping was perfectly set. I could’t resist grabbing one and munching on it while I finished cleaning up the kitchen!

Mini Carrot Cake Loaves with Baked Cream Cheese Topping
1½ c. all-purpose flour
¾ c. sugar
¼ c. brown sugar
⅓ c. oil
2 tbsp. applesauce
1 c. grated carrot*
2 eggs
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1½ tsp. vanilla
¼ c. walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
Cream cheese topping:
8 oz. (1 block) original cream cheese, room temperature
¼ c. powdered sugar
1 egg
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and flour an 8-well mini loaf pan or 1 standard loaf pan, set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugars, oil, applesauce and vanilla. With mixing speed on low, beat in one egg at a time. Add the grated carrot and mix until just combined.
3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped walnuts. With mixing speed on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
4. In a medium size mixing bowl (using a hand mixer or a sturdy spatula) beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg, salt and vanilla bean paste until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
5. Pour the carrot cake batter into the prepared pan, then top with cream cheese mixture, making sure to spread evenly across the batter. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes (or about 1 hour for a loaf). The cream cheese should be lightly browned on top, and yes, it will crack! Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes (longer for a large loaf). Remove from pan and allow to cool for 15 more minutes before serving.
*When grating the carrot use the bigger holes, this will help prevent the carrots from becoming mushy and juicy.
Created using a Stephen + Natalie family recipe | Makes approximately 8 mini loaves or 1 standard size loaf

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About the Author


Wife, mother, baker and photographer. Recipe developer & author of Life Made Simple. A self-professed peanut butter lover and fond of anything that involves pumpkin, cookie dough, or sprinkles

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  1. I agree, I prefer my carrot cake to be moist and without fillings…but add cream cheese and it’s a win-win! 😀 I can’t wait to try this!

  2. I’m the same, I don’t like raisins or pineapple in my carrot cake, but otherwise love it! This looks great and I’m loving the baked in cream cheese! 😀

  3. These look wonderful! I love the baked cream cheese tops. I love love love carrot cake too – one of my favorite cakes 🙂

    1. Hi Monica! It’s basically vanilla bean suspended in a glucose solution. You can just use vanilla extract. However, I buy Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste but you can also just scrape the inside of a vanilla bean- you’ll need about 1/8 of a teaspoon of the inside of the bean + 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract. I hope that helps!

    1. You can definitely omit the applesauce, although you’ll need to add some extra liquid/moisture (oil, buttermilk, milk or cream cheese). If you use vanilla extract just use the same amount as you would paste.

  4. The first time I made this I got halfway through mixing and realized my cream cheese had gone bad. I made the loaf and then added a powdered sugar icing later. It turned out delicious! I am trying it again now, but realized I am out of oil and subbing with butter. Thanks for a great recipe! It’s my new favorite carrot cake go-to.