Jewish noodle pudding is known in Yiddish as lokshen kugel. Either of those titles works for most of the world. But for my friend Joanie, the delicious baked egg noodle pudding or casserole goes by a different name. Noonie’s Noodle Pudding is her trip down memory lane on Jewish holidays.
Joanie’s mom didn’t like her real name – Maxine. She preferred her childhood nickname, Noonie, which she used for most of her 91 years.
As a homemaker in the 1950s and ’60s, Noonie made family the center of her life, especially her husband and three daughters. She loved to cook and had lots of recipes that fit the era.
To celebrate her mom’s 90th birthday, Joanie made a sweet little book Noonie’s recipes. Here’s the front cover.
Noonie’s Noodle Pudding is the first recipe in the book. Joanie included matzoh ball soup too. And brisket, the long and slow-cooked Jewish answer to pot roast. Plus a stuffed cabbage similar to my mom’s own recipe. I couldn’t help smiling as I paged through the book. The ingredients and recipes weren’t just Noonie’s. They represent a whole era of Jewish cooking in mid-20th Century America.
Joanie describes her mom as friendly, loving, happy, welcoming and generous. Those adjectives fit Joanie too, so I only have to think of Joanie to imagine how her mom must have been.
Joanie grew up in Charleston West Virginia, where Noonie lived her entire life. The percentage of Jews in Charleston (indeed the Jewish community in the entire state of West Virginia) has always been small relative to the rest of the population. Joanie estimates that there were probably 100-150 Jewish families in town while she grew up in the 1950s and ’60s. Noonie and her husband, a pediatrician, joined both synagogues in Charleston (a traditional one with an Orthodox rabbi and a reform congregation), because they wanted to support the Jewish community. Joanie’s class at the Reform synagogue had nine kids and there were even fewer at the school run by the other synagogue.
Why have two synagogues if each one was so small? No need to ask if you’re Jewish – you get it. For the rest of the world, the answer is about the strong attachments that people feel to their family’s traditions.
While Jews may keep to their own specific styles of worship even in a small community, Jewish food typically brings the community together.
Kugel is a staple around the tables of families celebrating the Jewish holidays. Especially popular during the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, and the evening meal after the fast on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, kugel can be either sweet or savory. I still search for the definitive survey of kugel preferences, but my informal polls always show a distinct preference for sweet variations.
I can attest that this version of sweet Jewish noodle pudding is fabulous.
When I finished making the kugel (just before dinner), I cut a small piece to photograph. Although I vowed not to eat the kugel before my meal, I found myself gobbling the already-photographed piece and eagerly looking forward to a second helping.
Want to see how easy this recipe is to make? Watch the video.
Tips for Making and Serving Jewish Noodle Pudding, Noonie-Style
- Go full fat even if you normally don’t – In other words, use “regular” sour cream and cottage cheese, i.e. made from 4% or whole milk, not lowfat or nonfat. Figure that you can diet the rest of the year. Joanie says another friend of hers tried this recipe using lowfat or nonfat dairy and it just wasn’t the same. No surprise there.
- The kugel is easier to cut into “clean cut” pieces when it’s cold. If you cut it when it comes out of the oven, the edges tend to be ragged. Joanie sometimes takes it out of the oven, lets it cool, then uses a pizza cutter to slice the pieces. She reheats it with pieces pre-cut in the pan.
- This kugel freezes well. There are many combinations of cooking and reheating times that work. If it’s already browned on top from the initial baking, cover the kugel when you reheat it.
Noonie's Jewish Noodle Pudding
This sweet noodle pudding is the perfect make-ahead dairy casserole for Jewish holidays or brunch.
- 16 ounces wide egg noodles
- 8 ounces butter, melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 large can peaches, drained and chopped
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 16 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch x 13-inch pan. You can use a bit of the melted butter, oil, or cooking spray.
Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package, for no more than the minimum specified time. Mix with the melted butter and set aside.
Beat the eggs and add the sugar, mixing until well-combined. Then add the drained fruit, sour cream, cottage cheese, vanilla, and salt. Mix all those ingredients and add the noodles and butter. Mix again.
Pour the mixture into the buttered pan. Bake uncovered for one hour (top should be browned and getting crispy), then cover with foil and bake another 30 minutes.
Most packages of noodles are 12 ounces, so this recipe calls for about 1 1/3 packages.
The noodles should be "parboiled" so that they are just barely softened. They will continue to cook in the casserole.
If you’re interested in more noodle pudding or kugel inspiration, check out these other versions:
Sweet Kugels or Puddings
- Noodle Kugel or Pudding with cornflake topping and fruit juice
- Noodle Kugel or Pudding without boiling the noodles
- Matzoh Kugel for Passover with raisins and apples
Savoy Kugel or Pudding