Table salt (Recipe: fresh apple cake)
- Table salt is sodium chloride, sometimes enriched with a bit of potassium iodide, and some glucose to prevent the potassium iodide from breaking down into iodine (which evaporates), plus calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent to keep the sodium from getting clumpy. Bet you thought table salt was just, well, salt.
- Many bakers prefer table salt because it has the smallest crystals and dissolves most reliably. The larger the salt crystal, the more time it takes to dissolve.
- When I was growing up, iodized salt was the norm. Created in 1924 by the Morton Salt Company, iodized salt was touted as a way to help prevent thyroid disease and promote good health. These days I avoid it, because I don't like the slight aftertaste. But in places where iodine deficiency is still a very real public health issue, salt with iodide is an important addition to the diet.
- Store salt in glass jars or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Add a few grains of rice to help keep the salt from clumping, much as a slice of bread in your sugar jar will wick the moisture away from the sugar.
- Salt preserves foods by creating a hostile environment for some microorganisms. Salt cod must feel incredibly hostile; maybe that's why it tastes so good when the fish is refreshed by a 24-hour soak and most of that salt leaches out.
- Use table salt to make play dough for kids, or build a salt volcano.
- If you cook from older cookbooks, the ones you inherited from your mom or found at a yard sale, use table salt when a recipe calls for salt, unless something else is specified. Table salt is the salt they had at the time.
- Before sumo wrestlers enter the ring for a match, a handful of salt is thrown into the center to drive off evil spirits.
- After the match, I'm sure those sumo guys would love to sit down to a meal of classic baked chicken, celebration pot pie with pumpkin biscuit crust, some salt potatoes, and red velvet cake for dessert.
Fresh apple cake
A week or so ago, I was culling my cookbook collection, putting together some donations for the town library. I picked up a book and a faded orange index card fell out. This recipe was typewritten on the card. The original called for a cream cheese frosting, and I've given you that recipe, but we're not frosting lovers so I left it off. The cake, which is super-moist from the apples, and a bit sweet, really didn't need the frosting, but a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt would have been perfect. Serves 12.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup margarine, softened (I used Smart Balance)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 cups finely chopped apples (I grated on the large holes of a box grater)
4 cups Kellogg's All Bran cereal
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat the margarine and sugar (I used my Kitchenaid mixer). Beat in eggs. Stir in apples, cereal and flour mixture.
Spray a 9-inch square cake pan with baking spray, and pour in the mixture. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place pan on a rack to cool.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla flavoring (use pure vanilla extract)
1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
With a wire whisk, or in a mixer fitted with the whisk, beat cream cheese, margarine and vanilla. Gradually add confectioners sugar, beating until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1 to 2 teaspoons milk. Spread on cooled cake.