If possible, start your pudding 5 weeks before Christmas.
One day ahead of time, place the raisins, sultanas, currants, figs, almonds and candied citrus peel in a bowl. Pour the brandy over the mixture and stir to combine. Cover and let it sit overnight to allow the brandy to completely penetrate the fruit.
On the second day, place the breadcrumbs, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl and stir to combine. In a large bowl, add the soaked fruit mixture, the grated apple, suet, lemon and orange zest, black treacle and egg. Stir well to combine.
Add the dry mixture to the fruit mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. It will be thick and sticky.
Using a fair amount of butter, generously grease a 2 quart pudding mold and transfer the batter into the mold. Press down and smooth the top.
Cut a circle from a square of parchment paper the same diameter as the top of the pudding mold. Butter the paper lightly and place it, butter side down, on top of the batter. Then tear off one or two more pieces of parchment paper large enough to cover the top of the pudding mold and overlap a bit down the sides of the mold. If the mold is small and the batter comes to the top, fold a pleat in the centre of the parchment papers to allow room for expansion. Tie the paper securely with string then trim off excess paper.
Halfway fill a large pot with water and bring a to a very low simmer. In order to prevent scorching, place a folded wash cloth on the bottom of the pot to prevent the pudding mold from coming in direct contact with the hot pot.
Lower the pudding mold down into the water on top of the cloth. The water level should come halfway up the side of the pudding mold. Cover the pot with the lid.
Steam the pudding over the lowest flame for approximately 8 hours. Check it periodically to ensure the water level is still at the halfway point and add more hot water as needed.
The longer the pudding steams, the darker the color will become. When the pudding is finished steaming, very carefully lift out the pudding mold and let it stand for 5 minutes. Next invert the pudding mold onto a plate. Let it sit until the pudding slides out onto the plate. Allow the pudding to cool completely. When you're ready to serve the pudding, you will need to reheat it either by re-steaming it for 30-60 minutes or until heated through.
If you wish to light the pudding just before serving, place 3 or 4 tablespoons of brandy in a soup ladle. Light the brandy and then pour atop the pudding. The flame will transfer to the pudding.
You may also wish to serve with a hard sauce, also known as Brandy Butter in the United Kingdom. Or you can serve it with a light dusting of confectioner's sugar, some whipped cream, brandy sauce, English custard, ice cream or lemon sauce.
Here is the Quill and Parchment recipe for British Mixed Spice: http://quillandparchment.com/archives/Dec2019/brit.html