One day, many years ago – during the High Holidays yet — I called my mother early in the morning to yell at her about kugel. Really. In my family kugel meant skinny noodles mixed with eggs, schmaltz, salt and fried onions. I’d heard of the sweet kind from friends who rhapsodized about the ones their grandmas made. But I’d never tasted any of those, because my mother told me they were horrible.
Years later, when I finally did, it was a watershed culinary moment for me. I was at a friend’s break-the-fast and she gave me a dishful of what I came to believe was the best noodle kugel I ever tasted. It had bountiful quantities of sugar and cheese, it was rich with dairy sour cream and it had a crunchy, butter-drenched frosted corn flakes crust.
“Ma! You were absolutely wrong. What were you thinking!” I yelled into the phone. I brought her a sample and she, no fool, realized how mistaken she’d been (although she still preferred our savory kind, which I still make often).
After that I became a sort of sweet noodle kugel aficionado. I make all kinds: dairy and pareve, with fresh fruit or dried, with a plain top or a crispy coat. Although these versions are sweet, I serve most of them with dinner – in the same way I serve applesauce or cranberry sauce with savory foods.
Recently I thought about the fact that kugel, being a kind of pudding, could actually make a nice dessert. Like bread pudding but made with noodles. So, with apples-and-honey season in mind, I decided to go all in.
This is it — apple-streusel-pie kugel, lush with roasted fruit, orange-plumped raisins, cheese and a topping of oat-based streusel. We ate it with vanilla ice cream once and another time topped with lightly sweetened heavy cream that had been whipped but still pourable. Don’t even think about the calories. Just enjoy.
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup orange or apple juice
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 3 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- 1 12-ounce package egg noodles
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- 1/4 pound unsalted butter
- 2 cups dairy sour cream
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- For the kugel, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil a 9”x13” baking pan.
- Heat the orange juice and honey in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring till the honey is melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raisins. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Cook the egg noodles in a large pot of boiling water. Drain, return to the pot and toss with a bit of oil to keep from sticking. Set aside.
While the water is boiling/noodles are cooking, place the apples and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar on your prepared baking sheet and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter till well blended. Beat in the remaining 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Add the sour cream and beat again. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the apples, raisins (along with the liquid) and cinnamon.
- Pour the mixture over the noodles and toss to coat completely. Pour into your prepared baking pan.
- For the topping, place the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse till coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over the noodle mixture.
- Bake the kugel for 45 – 55 minutes, or till golden brown and crispy on top.
Pronounced: PAHRV or pah-REV, Origin: Hebrew, an adjective to describe a food or dish that is neither meat nor dairy. (Kosher laws prohibit serving meat and dairy together.)