up close picture of a slice of apple upside down cake
Healthy Treats

Apple Upside Down Cake

Apple upside down cake is a rich molasses flavored cake that’s extremely moist and baked with soft apples and dates. 

a corner of the healthy apple upside down cake

This apple upside down cake was created off of a recipe from a cookbook my grandma had given me awhile back that came from her parish. The parishioners submitted some of their favorite recipes, and put together a large book of home cooked meals.

Of course dessert was included in there, and this month I decided to focus on recreating some of those classic desserts into healthier options.

This recipe was originally called Apple Topsy Turvy Cake. Now, when I look up topsy turvy cake on Google, it’s more about how the cake is stacked. Well, we’re not stacking this cake.

two slices of healthy apple upside down cake on plates with whole cake off to the side

In fact, the way the directions read, it was more along the lines of an upside down cake. And man do I love my upside down cakes {this peach one is a reader favorite}.  So I was pretty excited to tackle turning this not-so-healthy cake into a healthy delicious dessert you couldn’t refuse!

Ingredient swaps in apple upside down cake

Not only are we swapping out the name on this apple upside down cake, but we’re also swapping out many of the ingredients to something a little healthier.

diced fresh apples and dates in a 9" x 13" pan

First were the marshmallows. I love marshmallows, but specifically for s’mores desserts…or mixed in with cream cheese for a delightful frosting for cupcakes. But we’re making this cake healthy. So instead, I wanted something that was sweet and sticky. Enter dates! Dates provide a caramel-y flavor and are sticky {when fresh}, and pair perfectly with apples.

Making healthy cake batter for apple upside down cake

While we’re making healthy swaps, we’ve now got to move on to the cake portion. I was looking at a pretty traditional cake batter in front of me. One that included a hefty amount of sugars and shortening {yes, shortening}.

Instead of brown sugar, I opted for molasses. It has such a rich dark flavor, and is nice and thick. It mimicked the brown sugar nicely, but with a more intense dark flavor.

The shortening was up next. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever used shortening in my life. I typically stick to butter. But when I’m looking to bake something healthier, I love to use avocado. It’s creamy and thick like butter, and has just the right amount of fat to keep a cake nice and moist.

healthy apple upside down cake batter, diced apples and dates in a pan, and carton of Silk cashew milk

Pure maple syrup was incorporated to balance out the molasses and still provide sweetness without the full cup of sugar the recipe originally called for.


Finally, not that milk is unhealthy, but in trying to keep this dessert dairy free, I opted to use my favorite Silk Cashew Milk. It’s thick and creamy like whole milk {which I’m just guessing was used in this recipe}, but is dairy free and perfect for those with milk intolerance.

cake batter spread over apples and dates

The batter is then spread over the top of the apples and dates and baked to perfection.

Topsy turvy apple upside down cake

The original recipe didn’t say to do this, but I figured it was going to be much prettier if the cake was flipped over. Isn’t that what topsy turvy was getting after in the first place?

bite of healthy apple upside down cake on a gold fork

While the cake is still warm, flip it over onto a large plate {has to be large since you’ve baked it in a 9″x 13″ pan}. The apples and dates become sweet and soft, creating the perfect topping for a darkly sweet cake.

If you love the flavor of molasses, stick with the darker molasses. If you’re not quite sure how you feel about molasses, then try out the mild. It’s not as in-your-face molasses, but will still provide the right thickness and sweetness that makes the apples and dates pop.

top down view of two slices of healthy apple upside down cake with gold forks on the plates

Enjoy warm or even the next day. Either way you slice this topsy turvy apple upside down cake, it’s one you’ll love to throw in your parish cookbook!

Looking for more healthy cakes? Check these out:

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cake Pops

Healthy Chocolate Cake

Healthy Confetti Birthday Cake

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Healthy apple upside down cake is a simple dessert made with fresh apples, dates and is refined sugar free. This cake can be made vegan as well by using flax eggs. Try this healthy cake for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. #healthycake #easydessert #easydessertrecipe #vegancake #vegandessert

Apple Upside Down Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Healthy apple upside down cake is a perfect fall dessert. Made with rich molasses, fresh apples and dates. It's refined sugar free and can be made vegan. 

Course: Dessert
Keyword: cake, easy recipe, healthy cake, vegan
Servings: 12
  • 3 cups fresh peeled, diced Gala apples
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup molasses*
  • 1/2 cup pureed avocado {about 1 medium avocado}
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs**
  • 1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup Silk unsweetened vanilla cashew milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9" x 13" pan with baking spray. 

  2. Sprinkle diced fruit in the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle chopped dates over the top. 

  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the molasses, avocado and pure maple syrup until smooth. 

  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. 

  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

  6. Pour in half of the milk and mix until incorporated. 

  7. Repeat with flour and milk, ending with flour. Once flour is all mixed in, pour over the top of the apples and dates. Spread in an even layer. 

  8. Bake for 33-36 minutes, or until cake starts to brown on the top and pull away from the sides of the pan. 

  9. Let cool slightly. While still warm, flip the cake over on to a large plate. Let cool and serve warm. 

Recipe Notes

*Note: if you're not a huge molasses fan, use mild molasses, which isn't quite as intense of a flavor as regular molasses. 


**Note: if making this cake vegan, use two flax eggs {mix 2 Tbsp. flax meal with 5 Tbsp. water and let sit for a couple minutes until the flax soaks up the water}. 


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