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Table salt (Recipe: fresh apple cake)


Nine things I know about table salt (you'll be glad to know them, too):

Table salt

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Use table salt to make play dough for kids, or build a salt volcano.
  7. 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.
  8. Before sumo wrestlers enter the ring for a match, a handful of salt is thrown into the center to drive off evil spirits.
  9. 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
2 eggs
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.

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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Sweet potato pie
Traditional spaghetti gravy
Finnish pulla bread
Apple spice cake
Spice cake

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The apple cake looks so moist. I'm ready to grab a fork. Intrigued by the addition of all bran cereal...

I haven't made play dough in ages. I used to eat it faithfully as a child. I know I don't crave it now as an adult. LOL
Love the apple cake.

thanks for the info. I'm going to try the potato recipe. Its a salty type of day today :)

This brings me back to some early cooking classes....Home Economics! we did a similar recipe at the time. YUM!
(do they still have "home ec" in school?)

Pickling recipes usually call for kosher salt -- I believe because the additives in table salt make the brine cloudy. Is that (still) true?

It seems that everyone I know is avoiding iodized salt these days. My mom used to say that because we lived near the ocean, we didn't need the iodine. Don't know how she got that, but I've lived by it.

And I could live with that apple cake. Until I ate it all, that is....

Lydia -- I agree that the iodine and calcium silicate give salt a bitter after-taste. And for those that are interested in comparing different salts -- the best way to taste test is to dissolve 1 tsp of salt in a cup of water.

Mmmmm., I love apple cake, but always think of it for Rosh Hashanah. But as I look at this recipe, I see no reason not to make it now! :)

When an old recipe card falls out of a cookbook, it is my belief you are supposed to make that recipe, and soon! (Ok, I made that up, but it makes a good story, no?)

I love old-fashioned recipes, and old-time cake recipes are no exception. I'm also glad you included the cream cheese icing. I can't stand the pre-made, store bought stuff, but I can always make (a little) room for homemade icing (especially when it contains cream cheese). Yum!

I have to make this. I'm thinking I might adapt it to use the persimmons I have left.

Can I use butter instead of margarine? If yes, would I use less butter or the same amount?

Purple Foodie, there was a time when so many recipes were made with All-Bran. My husband's aunt used to make a muffin mix and keep it in her fridge.

Dawn, hah! I used to eat Play-doh, too.

Milton, happy cooking!

Carol, I don't know. I learned a lot in home ec. How to make pancakes and sew a heart-shaped apron.

Susan, I've always believed that, so I use kosher salt for pickling because it is additive-free.

Toni, the apple cake was so moist and delicious. With 4 cups of shredded apples, it truly deserves the name "fresh" apple cake.

Julia, for me Rosh Hashanah means honey cake. As apple cake is my favorite, I make several different versions in fall and winter, without even waiting for holidays.

Sandie, I believe that, too. When the card falls in your lap, make the recipe!

Kalyn, that would be delicious, I think. Let me know how it works for you.

Raluca, yes, you can use butter. Same amount. Just be sure to let it soften first.

I hate the taste of iodized salt ... and thought that was table salt. Now, I need to hit the grocery store and see if I can find some non-iodized salt. Learn new things every day.

I love the sumo wrestler one. I'll have to use that.

Sarah, you definitely can find non-iodized salt here. The packaging always looks pretty much the same as iodized, so be sure to read the labels carefully.

Susan, I love to learn these little tidbits about my pantry items, and I'm glad you do, too.

For a while I diverted from table salt, but my thyroid behaves better when I use it so I've shifted back to table salt in all my baking. I still prefer the flavor of sea salt and kosher salt in savory dishes, though.

I also use the box grater for apples because it yields the juices so well.

Mmmm... this looks amazing!!

The apple cake looks so moist and delicious. I do prefer natural pink salt.

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