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Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put the dates in a bowl, pour over 250ml boiling water and set aside. Butter a 1.5-litre pudding basin and put a disc of baking parchment in the base.
Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl, then beat with an electric hand whisk until well blended. Add the cooled date mix and beat again to make a sloppy batter
Stir in the fruits, pecans and ginger, then pour into the pudding basin and cover the basin with pleated baking paper and foil (see tips, below). Put the basin in a roasting tin half-filled with boiling water, then steam in the oven for 3 hrs until a skewer inserted into the pudding comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the brandy syrup. Put the sugar and 75ml water in a pan and stir over the heat until syrupy. Stir in the brandy and remove from the heat. When the pudding is ready, remove from the oven, take off the foil and paper, and push a skewer into the centre – it should come out clean. Pour over the brandy syrup so it soaks into the pudding, then cover until ready to serve. Will keep in the fridge for a week.
To serve, warm the pudding in the turned-off oven once you have taken out the potatoes, or microwave on High, covered with cling film, for 5 mins. Warm the butterscotch sauce (see related recipes) in a pan or in the microwave on Medium for 2 mins. Turn out the pudding onto a plate, pour over some of the sauce and serve the rest in a jug. Top with the holly sprig and serve with good-quality vanilla ice cream