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Put the sultanas, raisins, figs, mixed peel, halved glacé cherries, stem ginger, fresh ginger, grated apple and the orange zest in a bowl with the sugar and mixed spice. Pour in the orange juice and brandy, and stir well. Cover and leave to soak for at least 2 hrs, or overnight. If you don’t have time, put in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1-2 mins until the dried fruit has plumped up, then leave to cool completely.
Butter a 1-litre pudding basin and put a disc of baking parchment in the base. Stir the egg into the fruit mixture, then stir in the ground almonds and chopped blanched almonds, the flour and breadcrumbs. Finally, coarsely grate in the frozen butter, stirring the mixture frequently so it disperses evenly. Set aside.
For the topping, mix the softened butter and ginger syrup together, and spoon into the base of the basin. Arrange the whole cherries and almonds over the butter mixture in a single layer, easing some up the side, too. (Chop and stir in any leftover cherries and almonds.)
Spoon the batter into the basin, being careful not to disturb the topping too much, and smooth the surface using the back of the spoon. Cover with a sheet of baking parchment and a sheet of foil, folding a pleat down the centre to allow the pudding enough room to expand. Secure by tying tightly with kitchen string. Stand the basin in a deep, large pan on a trivet or upturned saucer, and pour boiling water from the kettle around it, so it comes about a third of the way up the side of the basin.
Cover the pan with the lid and steam the pudding for 4 hrs, topping up with more water when necessary so the pan doesn’t boil dry. Alternatively, omit the sheet of foil, place the pudding on the plate and microwave on medium for 20-25 mins until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Or, lower the pudding into a slow cooker, pour boiling water around the sides as before, cover and cook for 8 hrs on low, topping up with more water when needed. If making ahead, leave to cool completely, then store in a cool, dry place for up to two months – you can feed the pudding with more brandy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, if you like. To reheat, steam or slow-cook the pudding for 1 hr, or microwave (without foil) for 8-10 mins before turning out.