Kugel is like any other Jewish dish — you swear by the style that your bubbe made, and any variation of that is farkakte (literally “becrapped”). For me, raisins in kugel is farkakte. Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese or anything other than Philly cream cheese? Farkakte. No crunchy corn flake topping? Farkakte. Barefoot Contessa kugel? Farkakte!
The biggest variation between my mom’s and Nana’s versions of our family recipe was the use of vanilla extract in the batter. Nana insisted it should be in there; Mom, not so much. I happen to like vanilla so I use it, and I also sometimes use brown sugar in the crunchy topping. Other than that, our original recipe is unchanged.
I got kugel-ed out for a while a little over 11 years ago. I was pregnant with Matthew, and David and I were the only two to know that he was, indeed, yet another boy. Knowing there was a bris in our future, and knowing we typically had 125+ people at our brises, I decided to use the few weeks before his birth productively, and I made and froze kugel after kugel. The phone call to my mom from the delivery room went like this, “Well, it’s another boy! He’s healthy and beautiful and weighed 7-3. And you’ll be glad to know there are already ten kugels in my freezer and all the paper goods for the bris are stashed away in the basement!” (Heck, we had to find out whether or not he was a boy — we had already used up every other boy’s name, for heaven’s sake, and didn’t want to wrack our addled brains if we didn’t have to. Of course, my long-time ultrasound tech put the transducer on my belly and instantly giggled. “Nice try, honey,” she said, “but David clearly only makes boys!”)
Well those boys are crazy about our family kugel, and they got to see just how easy it is to toss these ingredients together and voilá…kugel. For them — and me — it’s just not the High Holy days without that sweet cinnamony aroma wafting throughout the house.
And so without further ado, I am happy to share our family recipe. May not be like your bubbe made, but it works for us!
- 12 oz. wide egg noodles cooked al dente, cooled
- 4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ c granulated sugar
- 12 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 ½ c whole milk
- 1 ½ c apricot nectar
- 1-1/8 sticks melted butter
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the sugar, eggs, milk, melted butter, apricot nectar, vanilla extract. Add cooked noodles. Batter will be very liquidy.
Pour into 13″ x 9″ x 2″ Pyrex pan.
- 6 cups corn flakes, crushed in a baggie with a rolling pin (not pulverized into sawdust!)
- 2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons melted butter
Combine all ingredients right in the baggie or in a bowl.
Spoon topping evenly over kugel batter. Bake at 350 °F for 1 hour.
NOTE: You can make the filling 1-2 days in advance, pour into a Pyrex and refrigerate. Keep topping separate. Let it come to room temp, and add the corn flake topping just before it goes into the oven.
Kugels freeze very well! I bake it about half an hour, let it cool, wrap and freeze it, and when I need it, I defrost it to room temp and bake it for another half hour.