These days my mother’s signature kugei is one she got from her friend Carol Cohen, the lovely wife of our cantor (both, alas, no longer with us). Made with milk, it’s lighter than most, but it is still devastatingly rich and sweet. The cherry pie filling is, my mother’s idea for a picture-perfect presentation. Mom likes to bake the kugel the day before serving, and then when she’s ready to reheat it, she spreads the cherry pie filling on top.
Yield: Serves 12 to 16
Butter or solid vegetable shortening, for greasing the baleing pan
Kosher (coarse) salt
1 pound medium-wide noodles
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sour cream
8 large eggs
4 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1¼ cups golden raisins
1 can (20 ounces) cherry pie filling (not plain cherries)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 × 9 × 2-inch baking pan.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
4. When the noodles are done, drain them well and add them to the egg mixture. Stir in the butter, raisins, and remaining 2 cups milk.
5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and bake until set, about 1½ hours.
6. Allow the kugel to cool. Then spread the cherry pie filling evenly over the kugel. Cover, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
7. Cut into squares and serve hot.
The kugel can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw, spread with the filling, cover, and bake as directed.