Soak the currants, raisins and sultanas in the brandy, lemon and orange juice overnight.
In the morning, in a seriously large bowl, mix the suet, flour, sugar, salt, spices, mixed peel, breadcrumbs, apples and eggs with the soaked fruit and any juice/liquor remaining in the bowl.
All the ingredients should be included at this point. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until completely combined.
Grease one 2 pint pudding basin or 2 one pint pudding basins.
Fill to about three quarters full with this mixture.
To wrap the pudding for steaming you need to lay a sheet of aluminium foil over a sheet of greaseproof or waxed paper.
Pick up both and make a pleat down the centre. Put this on top of your pudding bowl and wrap round firmly.
Then use a long piece of string to tie the paper and foil tightly round the bowl, leaving a couple of nice long ends of string.
Bring the extra string back up over top of the bowl and tie it under the string on the other side to make a handle so you can get the pudding out of the steamer easily.
Trim round the edges of the paper and foil with scissors to ensure that none of it drips into the water you will put round for steaming or it will seep into the pudding and ruin it.
You need a large steamer or saucepan for each pudding bowl – it needs to be much larger than the bowl itself. Place a small heatproof saucer upside down on the bottom of each saucepan, and place your prepared pudding bowl on top of the saucer.
Carefully fill the edges of the saucepan with water about half way up the pudding bowl. Put the lid on the saucepan.
Bring the water to a slow boil so the pudding can steam gradually. You will need to top up the water very regularly (sometimes as often as every forty-five minutes or so) so that the pudding does not boil dry. If it does, the saucer and pudding bowl will break and all will be lost.
After eight hours of steaming, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool down a bit before carefully removing the pudding from the saucepan using the string handle.
It’s good to have a tea towel close by as the pudding bowl will be wet.
Dry the bowl off, remove the paper, foil and string and sit the pudding in its bowl on a heat proof surface to cool down.
When the pudding and bowl are completely cool, remove the greaseproof paper and foil and then tie a fresh piece of greaseproof paper and foil over them just as before.
The pudding improves with age, so store in a cool place away from draughts until Christmas. (The top of a cupboard works well.)
At least two hours before your Christmas dinner, repeat the steaming process. To serve the pudding, carefully remove it from the pudding basin (it will be very hot) by inverting on to a serving plate.
Traditionally the pudding is flamed, but this step is optional. If you want to flame your Christmas pudding, just pour a small amount (a couple tablespoons) of brandy or vodka over the pudding and light it with a match (be careful and make sure kids stay well out of the way!)
When the flames go out, serve the pudding in small slices with brandy butter, cream or custard.