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After the first steam, the pudding will keep for up to 3 months. Wrap well and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Put the dried fruit, dates, mixed peel, citrus zests and almonds in your largest bowl, and pour over the brandy. Mix, cover and leave to soak overnight.
The next day, add the flour, spices, sugar and crumbs to the bowl, with a pinch of salt. Grate the butter into the bowl, then add the banana and the eggs and mix thoroughly to combine.
Grease a 1.7 litre pudding basin and line the base with a circle of baking paper. Spoon in the pudding mixture and level the top.
Cut out a square of baking paper a little bigger than the surface of the bowl. Place over the pudding, and tie tightly around the rim with string (easier if you have someone helping you!). Repeat with a layer of foil, which you can simply crimp over the rim. Add a string handle to help lift the pud in and out of your pan if you wish.
Put an old upturned saucer at the bottom of your largest saucepan and lower the pudding bowl onto it (the saucer stops the bottom of the pudding burning). You could use a kitchen cloth or large jam-jar lid instead. Fill the pan with boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides of the bowl, then cover the pan with a lid. Let the pudding simmer for 6 hours, topping up the water occasionally if you need to.
Remove the pudding, let it cool, then replace the coverings with a fresh layer of baking paper and foil and store in a cool, dark place. On Christmas Day, steam it for 1-2 hours. Turn it out onto a serving plate (you may need to loosen the edges with a knife). Douse it with warmed brandy and set it alight if you dare!