Place the sultanas, dates, raisins, apricots and brandy in a medium heatproof bowl.
Cover with a lid or double layer of plastic wrap and cook in a microwave on Low/90watts/10% for 20-30 minutes or until almost all the brandy is absorbed.
Set aside, covered, for 30 minutes to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until combined. Add the vanilla essence and the eggs, one at a time, beating as you add the eggs.
Sift the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg over fruit mixture. Add the butter mixture, breadcrumbs and pistachio nuts, and use a wooden spoon to mix until combined. Spoon the mixture into heatproof basins or bowls.
Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top of each basin and tie securely with string. Make a string handle from one side of the basin to the other so it is easier to pick the basin out of the pan after cooking.
Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the boiling water up from time to time, if necessary.
If you do not have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls. Cover and steam as before.
Then let it cool and change the baking parchment and foil covers for fresh ones and tie up as before. Store in a cool cupboard until Christmas Day.
Steam for 2 hours and serve with brandy butter, rum sauce, cream or homemade custard.
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Key Ingredients: sultana, dates, cinnamon, raisins, apricots, cognac, butter, brown sugar, vanilla essence, egg, all purpose flour, cinnmaon, nutmeg, breadcrumbs, pistachio