You'll hear cries of joy, any way you slice it.
Some people might call this apple kugel, but my Aunt Ruth called it noodle pudding. I call it Jewish noodle nirvana. A lot of kugel recipes have sour cream, cottage cheese or cream cheese, but this one doesn't have anything that makes it cloyingly rich. Aunt Ruth has been gone over 25 years, and I still have her original handwritten recipe in pencil on a little piece of frayed note paper. I was afraid it might not live up to my memory since my palate, like William, has come a long way in 22 years. But the minute my lips kissed those warm noodles canoodling the sweet, cinnamon-laced apples, tender raisins and toasty walnuts, my taste buds got all vaklempt. One bite was an instant family reunion. That pudding was exactly the way I remembered it.
We always ate the noodle pudding for dessert and had the leftovers for breakfast either hot or cold, but some people serve it as a side dish. It freezes well too, so you can pre-slice it and have it on hand at a moment's notice—because you never know when you'll need to bring a nosh to a circumcision. My dad used to love to tell the story of how after William's bris, the mohel stood at the refreshment table drinking a can of Slice. And to this day, William likes to say, "I hope you washed the knife before you cut the kugel." Any way you slice this noodle pudding, you’ll hear cries of joy. Happy birthday, William!
Recipe (Adapted from Ruth Slavin)
1 lb package broad noodles
4 oz (1 stick) salted butter *
½ of a 15 oz. box of raisins (I mixed some golden ones in)
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 medium Red Delicious apples, peeled and diced
1 cup walnut pieces
2 capfuls of almond extract (from 1.7 oz. bottle)
2 cups whole milk
Boil and strain noodles (make sure not to overcook). Place in a large mixing bowl with a stick of butter. Let melt and mix. Add raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, diced apples, nuts and almond extract and mix.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Then pour into noodle mixture and mix well. Pour noodle mixture into a buttered 9x13 pan.
Pour the milk over the entire pudding, cover with foil, and place in the refrigerator for about four hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for at least one hour or a little longer, but don’t let it dry out. Let cool slightly and serve warm, cut in squares (it's easier to cut it in squares when it's cold).
* When you use salted butter, the recipe doesn't need additional salt.
Serves about 12