Food & Drink

Brioche with Caramel Poached Apples

Make a sticky, beautiful mess

Photos: Courtesy of Ubuntu; pb / Flickr

When Ubuntu pastry chef Carl Swanson thinks about family recipes, his mother’s apple pie comes to mind. “So cliche,” he admits, but it’s “very well seasoned and executed with utter perfection.”

How does he upgrade the classic?

“About a month ago at Ubuntu, we started receiving the most delicious apples from our garden. My goal was to add a couple new flavors, clean it up a little bit, make it taste great and look good, but also give guests a feeling of home. So this one is an ode to my mother, Marlene Swanson.”


For the caramel apples
1 c. brown sugar
2 oz. butter
Nutmeg and cinnamon, to taste
½ c. apple juice
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths

For the Earl Grey pudding
4 c. cream
1 bag Earl Grey tea
½ c. sugar
9 egg yolks

For the pickled apples
½ apple, use melon baller to carve out
4 c. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 c. sugar
1 c. rice wine vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp. nutmeg
3 cloves

For the candied hazelnuts
½ c. sugar
½ c. hazelnuts, toasted
½ tsp. ground coriander seed
A pinch of salt

For plating
Bakery-fresh brioche
Vanilla ice cream

1. To caramelize apples, bring sugar and butter to a light simmer in a heavy pot. Add spices and apple juice, then the apple pieces. Reduce to low heat and cook until soft. Set the pot aside.

2. Prepare the pudding by simmering cream in a small pot, then steeping a tea bag for 1 hour.

3. Add sugar, remove tea bag, and whisk in eggs. Place over pilot light and whisk every 10 minutes until all the fat surfaces to the top. Pour contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Let cool overnight.

4. For the pickled apples, place apples in water with lemon juice.

5. Combine sugar, vinegar, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and cloves in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour over the apples and let cool.

6. To prepare the hazelnuts: In a heavy pot, add just enough water to the sugar so it feels like wet sand; bring to 240°. Throw in nuts and remove from heat, stirring until nuts have crystallized.

7. Place over low heat till sugar has turned to caramel; add coriander and a pinch of salt. Let cool, then chop in food processor.

8. To plate, slice the brioche about about ¾-inch thick and cut with a 4-inch ring cutter. Caramelize by dusting with sugar and torching for a few seconds. Layers each ingredient over brioche and top with hazelnuts. Serve with ice cream.