Photograph: Brett Stevens
Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas 5. Peel, core and cut the apples into 2cm pieces. Melt the butter in a wide, deep pan over a medium heat. Tip in the apples; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the apples with half the sugar, turn up the heat and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, allowing the apples to colour lightly. Add the Calvados or Cognac and cook for about 1 minute until the liquid evaporates. Take the pan off the heat; leave to cool for 15 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, use a fork to beat the eggs with the rest of the sugar and the crème fraîche. Stir in the apple mixture and the chopped brioche. Pour the mixture into a buttered 7cm-deep, 18-20cm round cake tin.
Place the filled cake tin in a large deep roasting tin and half-fill the roasting tin with freshly boiled water so that it comes halfway up the tin. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the cake tin from the roasting tin and leave the pudding to cool in the tin. Serve with crème fraîche.
Get ahead: make up to a day ahead.
Kitchen secret: this is a cross between a pudding and a cake. Serve cold with crème fraîche and a shot of Calvados or a glass of golden Sauternes.