Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Hungarians have a particular fondness for poppy seeds, often pairing them with pastries and noodle dishes. Here, the dusky seeds add nutty flavor to a baked lokshen (noodle) kugel. The dollops of jam threaded throughout make this kugel equally appropriate as a side dish, a dessert, or the centerpiece for brunch.
12 oz (340 g) wide egg noodles
⅓ cup (75 ml/2½ fl oz) vegetable oil
1 cup (225 g) unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1½ tablespoons poppy seeds
⅓ cup (110 g) cherry or apricot or jam
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) or other 3-quart (3 L) baking dish.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook until just short of tender, 5–7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until fully combined. Grind the poppy seeds in a spice or coffee grinder until just ground but not powdery (about 10 seconds). Add the ground poppy seeds and the cooked noodles to the egg mixture and stir to fully combine.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Take a teaspoon of the jam and dot it on top of the kugel, using the spoon to nestle it in the noodles. Repeat with the remaining jam, taking care to space the jam out evenly across the kugel. Bake until the kugel is set and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing. Just before serving, use a fine-mesh sieve to lightly dust with cinnamon. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Adapted from “The Jewish Cookbook” by Leah Koenig, Phaidon.