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landscape view of Easter Bundt cake slice with pecans

My Favorite Carrot Cake: an Easy Easter Bundt Cake Recipe

It is hard to overstate my love for a great carrot cake, and this easy Easter Bundt cake recipe is the best carrot cake recipe I know of. 

Despite the fact that I make and eat carrot cake year round, it feels like a seasonal kind of thing. And every Easter I somehow miss the window to tell you about this, the greatest Easter cake there is. Technically I’ve shared a version of this in cupcakes form (in my Steam Oven Baking cookbook), but this is the first time I’ve shared it in whole-cake form, and the first time on the site.

At heart, this is a tender, simple Bundt cake. It’s got flecks of carrot, crunchy pecans, warm spices and cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect antidote to chocolate eggs, and a fantastic Easter Sunday dessert option. 

Decorate this with Easter candy; say, a chocolate Easter bunny or mini eggs, and you’ll have the prettiest of homemade Bundt cakes that hits the sweet spot whether you’re having a casual Easter brunch get-together or a formal sit-down meal.

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What makes the best carrot cake (aka Easter Bundt cake)

a slice of Easter Bundt cake in a dessert plate

I’ve eaten a lot of carrot cakes in my life. The best are dense but not too dense, tender and tightly-crumbed but with sizeable chunks of nuts to break up what might otherwise become bland textured. 

Carrot cake should not be fluffy or too light; it’s meant to have heft and personality. And although you could use a simple lemon glaze to make dairy free carrot cake, I will always go for cream cheese frosting if it’s an option. 

But what otherwise sets a mediocre carrot cake apart from the ultimate, best carrot cake? Let’s find out.

What fruit to use in your carrot cake

Convention says carrot cake should contain raisins or sultanas. So I know this will be controversial: I prefer a 1:1 swap for dried apricots. 

The tartness of apricots is the perfect foil for earthy carrots and deep sweetness of brown sugar. I so hope you’ll try them because you’ll never go back to raisins in your cake again. 

Nuts in carrot cake

Again, I like to rail against tradition with my choice of nuts in carrot cake. Walnuts are the usual; pecans are better. There, I said it. 

If you have access to really fresh walnuts maybe they’d win, but the majority of store-bought walnuts are stale and a little bitter. Pecans are sweeter and softer, and I love them in just about everything, including this recipe. 

I don’t chop the nuts I put into my cake; crumbling or breaking them up by hand gives a lovely irregular crunch. The difference is subtle but worth a couple of extra minutes in the kitchen. 

Oil vs butter in your Easter bundt cake

One of the reasons I love this cake is that once you have your ingredients prepared, it’s simple to mix in one bowl and pour batter straight into your greased tin. To that end, I use vegetable oil for this recipe (generally rice bran, sometimes grape seed). 

Oil in your cake means no creaming or whipping or melting is required. Plus, the crumb will be more even, the taste is more ‘carroty’ and it’ll keep well for longer after baking. 

My secret Easter bundt cake ingredient

Apart from just being a great carrot cake in general, there is one not-very-secret ingredient that sets this recipe apart from most others. Possibly the best part of the whole cake, as far as I’m concerned. 

Candied ginger. Or crystallised ginger, depending on what it’s called where you live. Stem ginger in syrup (with the syrup drained off) also works; you’re looking for chunky little nubs of sweet and fiery ginger studded through your cake. They offset the slight sourness of the aforementioned apricots and blend perfectly with the spices. 

One thing I do not put into my carrot cake recipe is vanilla extract. Most carrot cake recipes I see call for it, but it’s wholly unnecessary with everything else that’s going on in the batter. 

Does this need to be a Bundt cake or can I bake a regular round cake?

You can bake this Easter Bundt cake in a regular round, or even a square, pan. It’ll work just fine and you’ll still have a perfectly good Easter dessert (or, frankly, dessert for any time of year). But a Bundt cake makes a stunning centerpiece for your Easter celebration, without the need for a lot of decorating. 

I find Bundt pans versatile and practical for lots of different cake recipes. Their intricate designs create beautiful cakes with minimal effort, making them perfect for special occasions. 

The tube in Bundt tins ensures more even baking, resulting in a cake that’s golden brown on the outside and perfectly cooked through. This is especially true for cakes with heavy batters, like today’s carrot cake recipe and my very popular lemon cream cheese pound cake. 

The center of the cake being underdone isn’t an issue with a Bundt cake pan, and you don’t have to worry about overcooking the edges of the cake batter in order to get the middle just right. That benefit alone is a good enough reason for me to love Bundt cake recipes for more than just their pretty patterned finish.

Steps for making your Easter Bundt cake

This cake has a long ingredient list but they’re mostly simple ingredients, and the bulk of the work is in the prep. The actual mixing and baking of the cake is easy. 

The detailed instructions for this recipe are below in the printable recipe card, but read on for a visual walk through of how to make your easy Easter Bundt cake. 

First, make sure you’ve weighed, measured and chopped all your ingredients. It’ll make the mixing part much faster if you’ve got all your carrot cake bits ready to go. 

ingredients for making easter bundt cake

Now preheat your oven and grease the pan. The best way I’ve found to grease a Bundt pan is to use very soft butter and a pastry brush, smooshing the butter all around and into the crevasses of the pan. Don’t skip this; a well-greased pan makes turning out the carrot cake onto a cooling rack so easy. If you don’t do it you’re liable to lose half the cake and be digging around the inside of the pan to extract it.

Grab a large bowl and put all the dry ingredients into it. Whisk to combine, then crack in the eggs and add the oil. Mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until everything is smooth.

Adding eggs and oil to flour mixture
adding carrots to Easter Bundt cake batter

Add the nuts, apricots, ginger and carrots to the bowl and mix again. It’ll seem like things aren’t coming together at first, but keep going and you’ll get a lumpy but even mass of cake batter. Scrape the batter into your Bundt pan and smooth out the surface.

mixing together carrots, pecans, dried fruits and Easter Bundt cake

Time to bake! Cook your carrot cake until a skewer tests clean; it’ll take around an hour. Remove to a wire rack and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn it out and cool completely.

a copper colored pan with Easter Bundt cake batter
freshly bake Easter Bundt cake in a pan
freshly bake Easter Bundt cake

Lemon cream cheese frosting for your easy carrot cake

While your carrot cake cools, make the lemon cream cheese frosting for the top. This is a simple food processor affair; put the cream cheese and butter in first, then mix in confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. 

Don’t over-process the frosting, the more you mix it the softer and runnier it’ll become, and that makes it hard to work with. 

adding sugar to cream cheese and butter mixture in a food processor
adding lemon juice to cream cheese frosting
cream cheese frosting in a big ceramic jug

Decorating Your Easter Bundt Cake

Once you’ve let your carrot cake/Easter Bundt cake cool to room temperature, it’s time to decorate! Here’s how I made my cake extra special without too much effort or any special decorating skills.

First, put the cake onto a serving plate and swirl a thick layer of cream cheese frosting over the top. Pretty but also essential for cake deliciousness!

Pop a small craft-store birds nest in the center, covering the indent in the middle of the Bundt cake. I filled my nest with little Easter eggs and a pom-pom Easter bunny; you can add any edible or decorative eggs, bunnies or chicks to give your cake an Easter theme.

Add extra speckled candy Easter eggs around the cake, atop the cream cheese icing. 

portrait view of Easter Bundt cake

I didn’t do it this time, but when I’ve baked this carrot cake in the past, I’ve added some green-tinted shredded coconut around the edge of the frosting, to make it look like grass. Just mix the coconut shreds with a few drops of green food coloring, rubbing it all together until it’s the right color. You could also turn it into an Easter basket cake by making a handle out of cardboard strips covered in a pretty ribbon, then arching it over the top of the cake and pressing the ends into the cream cheese.

Whether you go all-out to decorate your Easter Bundt cake or you just swoosh some cream cheese frosting over the top and call it done, I hope you’ll love my take on the ultimate carrot cake recipe complete with apricots, pecans and ginger pieces. 

Happy baking and happy Easter!

Have you made and enjoyed this recipe? I’d love if you’d be kind enough to rate and review it via the stars in the recipe card, or leave a comment below! Ratings and reviews help other readers to find and know whether one of my recipes will suit them.

landscape view of Easter Bundt cake slice with pecans
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (Easter Bundt Cake Recipe)

This tender, easy-mix Bundt cake with flecks of carrot, crunchy pecan nuts, warm spices and cream cheese frosting is the perfect antidote to chocolate eggs, and a fantastic Easter Sunday dessert option. 
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert, Morning Tea
Cuisine: Australian, Western
Keyword: carrot cake, easter bundt cake, easter cake
Servings: 12
Calories: 598kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter very soft, for greasing pan

Cake

Lemon cream cheese frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature; full fat brick cream cheese; do not use spreadable or light as your frosting will be runny
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar icing sugar
  • 1 lemon finely zested and juiced

Instructions

For conventional ovens

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

For combi steam ovens

  • Preheat oven to Combi Steam, 330°F/165°C, 30% humidity (if your oven doesn't have variable humidity, set to the correct function and temperature and the oven will take care of the humidity).

Prepare your Bundt pan

  • Using about 2 tablespoons of very soft butter and a pastry brush, brush a thick layer of butter all over the insides of a 10-cup Bundt pan, making sure to get into the crevasses and corners as well as right up the sides. Doing a good job of this is the difference between a cake that turns out perfectly and one that gets stuck in the pan.
    2 Tbsp butter

Make the cake batter

  • Put the flour, baking powder, spices and both types of sugar into a large bowl and whisk to combine and get rid of any lumpy bits of sugar. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground allspice, 1 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • Crack the eggs into the flour mixture and add the oil, then whisk very well to combine.
    4 eggs, 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • Add the pecans, apricots, ginger and carrot to the bowl and switch to a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, mixing well until everything is evenly mixed and the batter has no lumps of flour or sugar left.
    1 cup chopped pecan nuts, 1 cup chopped dried apricots, 1/3 cup candied ginger, 3 large carrots

Bake the cake

  • Scrape the mixture into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the surface a little. Put the cake into the center of the oven and cook until it's slightly risen, golden brown and tests clean with a skewer, about an hour. A few crumbs sticking to the test skewer is fine, but you don't want pasty cake batter on there.

Cool and decorate the cake

  • When the cake is baked, leave it to cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  • While the cake cools, make the cream cheese frosting. Put the cream cheese and butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and process again, stopping as soon as everything is blended and smooth. If the weather is warm, chill the frosting for 30 minutes to make it easier to work with when decorating.
    8 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 3 cups confectioners' sugar, 1 lemon
  • When the cake is completely cool, spread the top with cream cheese frosting; go as far down the sides of the cake as you want, but not so far that you cover up the pretty pattern.
  • Decorate with edible or non-edible Easter eggs, bunnies, chicks and birds nests for an Easter theme; remove any non-edible decorations when serving.
  • Slice into wedges to serve. The cake will keep at room temperature for a couple of days or in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

  1. If you don’t have a Bundt pan, you can use a 10 inch (23cm) round cake tin to bake your cake. The cooking time will be similar; be guided by a skewer test rather than exact time. 
  2. Dairy free option: to make the cake dairy free, grease the pan with oil mixed with a teaspoon of flour (the flour is to stop the oil beading on the surface of the metal). Omit cream cheese frosting and replace with a simple glaze made from lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar. Use dairy free decorations.
  3. Gluten free option: I have successfully switched a supermarket gluten free flour blend for the wheat flour in this recipe. Use 250g GF flour instead of 300g wheat flour. Use gluten free confectioners’ sugar (some brands contain wheat starch, it’s important to check!) and GF decorations. 
  4. If you want to bake ahead, you can bake and frost the cake, then freeze (undecorated), covered, for up to a couple of weeks. Thaw overnight in the fridge before decorating and serving. For longer storage, do not frost the cake, wrap well in cling film and freeze for up to 3 months. 

Nutrition

Calories: 598kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 70g | Vitamin A: 4033IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Carrot Cake: an Easy Easter Bundt Cake Recipe”

  1. Emily Rhodes

    I’m glad you enjoyed the cake! I’ve just tweaked the metric conversions, it looks like I missed converting the cream cheese frosting quantities. You should see everything in metric if you toggle the little button in the recipe card. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I have just served this to a group of friends with much applause. It is moist and delicious. I don’t have a Bundt tin anymore ( downsizing) so used a 23 cm tin. The middle took about 1 1/2 hours so I was worried the outside would be dry but thanks to the steam it was fine. It is a big cake and I think I will try halving it next time which should help the cooking time in the centre
    The other small request is for the metric version. Could the whole recipe be in metric some parts are still in cups. Ihave a converter but it would have been easier had the whole recipe been converted. None the less a huge success. Thank you!

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