Soak the sultanas, raisins, apricots and dates in the brandy overnight. Grease 2 x 1 litre pudding basins with some butter.
Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and add the brandy-soaked fruit to this mix. Stir it well, making sure all the spices are mixed through.
Divide the mixture into the 2 greased pudding basins. Cut some greaseproof paper and make a little pleat in the centre to allow the pudding to expand. Place this tightly on the pudding basin and tie it firmly with a thread. Cover this with a crinkled piece of foil, making sure it’s waterproof.
To steam the pudding, take a large pan with a lid and fill it with enough water to cover half the pudding basin. Use a small upturned plate to place the pudding basin on. Bring it to the boil, cover the pan with the lid and steam for 3½ to 4 hours. Make sure to check there is enough water and top up when needed. You will need 2 pans for the 2 puddings.
Remove the pudding from the pan and set aside to cool. Remove the paper and foil and replace it with fresh baking parchment, then tie it up and leave it in a cool, dark place. On Christmas Day, resteam the pudding for 1 to 2 hours, turn out and flame with brandy.