Grandma’s Noodle Kugel

Final Pudding Watermarked

The other day, my roommate and I discussed what we would do with her leftover cream cheese. As she was doing an online recipe search, she turned to me and asked, “Have you ever heard of noodle pudding?”

Have I ever heard of noodle pudding?

Noodle pudding is only one of the most delicious, underrated desserts of all time. Its alternate alias is noodle kugel, which is the Yiddish word for ball.

In the 1200s, the German population thickened their stews with bread balls, which were variation of Chinese dumplings. German Jews began replacing some of the bread with other binding agents like noodles and eggs (1). Jewish housewives used kugeltopf (topf meaning jar or pot) to cook their stews, which kept the bread dumplings moist. The stew, therefore, formed into a pudding-like consistency (2), and that’s how noodle kugel came into existence.

Noodle pudding evolved into savory and sweet creations during the 1800s. Savory puddings usually contained onions and schmaltz, while sweet puddings used cottage cheese, sour cream, and sugar.

The Bundt pan was initially created for baking kugels in the 1950s. That didn’t exactly “pan” out as the inventor had hoped (1).

Today’s sweet recipes usually have raisins and cinnamon. Unfortunately for my roommate, my version does not contain any cream cheese.

Fortunately for you readers, my recipe is the best kind of noodle kugel that I’ve ever tasted.

My recipe comes from my grandma, who told me that this version of kugel was passed down from her grandmother. Grandma’s Noodle Pudding calls for a large amount of sour cream, which makes the dish super rich.

Sour cream is such an interesting concept. It’s created by adding either acid or bacteria to a regular cream. Food manufacturers generally sell “cultured” sour cream, which relies on lactic acid bacteria as a thickening agent. The form of lactic acid bacteria used to thicken sour cream in the food industry is known as Streptococcus lactis.

Companies first pasteurize regular cream to get rid of harmful pathogens. The cream is then “cultured,” which means that Streptococcus lactis is added to promote the formation of thick, sour cream. The cream is left in a controlled room temperature setting for a few hours to allow Streptococcus lactis to coagulate the proteins in the cream (3). Coagulation forms the semi-solid lumps in the cream that increases its volume. Lactic acid bacteria also digest carbohydrates into lactic acid, which contributes to the sour taste of sour cream!

Did you know that different strains of lactic acid bacteria are found throughout the human body? They populate the digestive tract and other membranes, and help promote a healthy balance of microflora (bacteria).

Probiotics are actually forms of lactic acid bacteria, mainly Lactobacillus, that are found in dairy products and fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and sourdough breads. Probiotics benefit digestion by repopulating the intestines with lactic acid bacteria.

You can make your own sour cream using starter cultures of lactic acid bacteria! You can also use acid to promote protein formation. Here are three simple ways to create your own sour cream:

Homemade Sour Cream using a Starter Culture

Using a direct-set sour cream starter culture–> Add one packet of your starter culture and 1 – 4 quarts of heavy cream or whipping cream to a clean/sterilized jar. Cover the jar, and let the contents sit at room temperature for 16-24 hours. Store the final product in the refrigerator.

Using buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir–> Add tbsp of your dairy starter and 1 cup of heavy cream or whipping cream to a clean/sterilized jar. Cover the jar, and let the contents sit at room temperature (up to 80°F) for 16-24 hours. Store the final product in the refrigerator (4).

Homemade Sour Cream using Acid:

Materials: 1 cup heavy cream and ¼ cup white vinegar

In a clean/sterilized jar, combine the heavy cream and vinegar. Shake the ingredients, cover the jar, and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours (until the product becomes thick). Store the final product in the refrigerator and use it within a week (5).

Homemade Sour Cream Substitute for the Calorie Counters:

Materials: 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice.

Add the cottage cheese and acid of your choice to a blender or food processor. Grind until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for later use.

I bought my sour cream for this trial because I had a coupon for a specific brand. Every penny counts, right? I just thought that you’d like to have these tips for future reference.

I’ve never made my Grandma’s Noodle Pudding before, so let’s start now!


For the noodle kugle: 1 lb (16 oz) egg noodles, 2 cups sour cream, ¼ cup cottage cheese, 1 to 1.5 cups of sugar,  1 apple or pear (sliced and peeled), 1 cup of raisins, ground cinnamon, 1 stick of butter, 8 eggs


© The Baking Tour Guide, 2014

Cook the noodles in a large saucepan until they are just past the point of being aldente (firm). Drain the noodles, and add a little bit of butter to the saucepan to prevent them from sticking together. The noodles can sit aside to cool for now.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, cottage cheese, and 1 cup of sugar.

Sour cream, cottage cheese, sugar

Sour cream, cottage cheese, sugar

Taste the contents in the bowl. If you feel that you need more sweetness, then add extra sugar. I added another 1/4 cup of sugar.

Slice and peel the apple. Add the apple slices and raisins to the contents in the large bowl.

The cinnamon addition is probably the trickiest part of the recipe. My grandma told me to “add as much cinnamon as you want.” I started by adding 1 tsp at a time. I absolutely love cinnamon, so I wound up putting about 2 tbsp into the mixture. Taste your food to decide how much cinnamon you need.

Greased Pan

Greased Pan

Add a stick of butter to a 9 x 13″ pan, or as my grandma likes to say, “a pan big enough to fit a lasagna.” Put the pan with the butter ONLY into the oven until the butter melts. The butter will become liquid in about 5 minutes.

My grandma told me about this clever trick- She pours as much of the melted butter as she can into the large mixing bowl with the rest of the pudding filling. Then she leaves the rest of the butter on the pan to serve as the grease.

Pour the butter into the pudding, and then add the eggs. Whisk the contents in the bowl until the eggs are thoroughly mixed. Then stir in the noodles!

The pudding is ready for the oven.

The pudding is ready for the oven.

Put the contents of the mixing bowl into the greased pan, and cover the item with aluminum foil to prevent the noodles from burning.

Place the covered pan in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil, and allow the pudding to cook for another 20-25 more minutes. The kugel will be finished when the noodles look crispy and golden brown. Allow the pudding to sit for 10 minutes so it can set.

Finished pudding with crispy, golden noodles.

Finished pudding with crispy, golden noodles.

Then slice it, and enjoy!

Then slice it, and enjoy!

So many amazing memories come with this kugel. I hope this recipe is just as magical for you as it is for me!

Nutrition Facts for one slice of noodle pudding, based on the USDA Nutrient Database.

Nutrition Facts for one slice of noodle pudding, based on the USDA Nutrient Database.

© The Baking Tour Guide, 2014. All rights reserved

Sources:

1. “About Noodle Kugel.” EHow. Demand Media, 25 Feb. 2009. Accessed 27 Feb. 2014. Available at http://www.ehow.com/about_4809432_noodle-kugel.html.

2. Marks, Gil. “The History of Kugel.” Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller. Accessed 27 Feb. 2014. Available at http://www.joyofkosher.com/2011/09/the-history-of-kugel.

3. “Sour Cream | Real California Milk.” Real California Milk. Accessed 27 Feb. 2014. Available at http://www.realcaliforniamilk.com/products/dairy/sour-cream/.

4. “How to Make Sour Cream.” Cultures for Health: Yogurt Starter, Sourdough Starter, Kombucha, Kefir Grains, Cheese Making and More. Accessed 27 Feb. 2014. Available at http://www.culturesforhealth.com/sour-cream/.

5. “Real Food.” Mother Earth News. Accessed 27 Feb. 2014. Available at http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/how-to-make-sour-cream-and-cream-cheese-recipes.aspx.

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