Put the sultanas (170g), currants (140g) and raisins (140g) into a saucepan with the 200ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 3 minutes. Leave to soak, uncovered, overnight.
The next day, sift the plain flour (30g) and spices (½ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp grated nutmeg, ½ tsp ground mace, ½ tsp ground ginger) into a large mixing bowl.
Add the grated apple, breadcrumbs (55g), suet (85g), grated chocolate (40g), brown sugar (85g), mixed peel (20g), chopped almonds (55g) and orange and lemon zest to the bowl.
Mix well, using your hands to get rid of any lumps of butter (if using instead of suet) or sugar and ensuring the mixture is fully blended together.
Stir in the soaked fruit, which will have plumped overnight. Next stir in the black treacle (1 tbsp), brandy (3 tbsp) and 1 egg.
Mix well and stand overnight - This isn't necessary, the marinating helps the spices to soak in.
Before you're ready to cook, stir in the Royal Mint Six Pence. It's traditional for everyone to give the pudding a turn with a wooden spoon at this stage, and make a wish.
Use the knob of butter to grease the pudding bowl and tip the Christmas pudding mixture into it.
Cut a circle of greaseproof paper, which is a few inches bigger than the rim of the bowl with a folded pleat running through the middle (this allows room for the pudding to release excess steam). Cover the top with a piece of tin foil, the same size as the greaseproof paper, and tie it tightly with string. Make a loop across the top of the pudding bowl to fashion a handle so the pudding can be easily lifted in and out of the pan.
If you are using a steaming pot, pour some water into the bottom of the stock pot - about one eighth full - so that the steamer basket sits in the bottom just above water level. Bring the water to the boil, and place the Christmas pudding into the basket.
If you don't have a steamer basket, simply use an upturned saucer or ramekin so that the pudding basin is kept away from direct contact with the base of the pan. Then fill the stock pot with water to around half-way up the side of the pudding basin.
Put on the lid, and steam at a gentle simmer for four hours. Keep an eye on the water to make sure that the pan doesn't boil dry and add more water from the kettle to keep it topped up if needed. If the lid of the stock pot doesn't fit on tightly it's not ideal but not disastrous, as long as there's plenty of steam circulating. Keep an even closer eye on water levels though, as a loosely-covered pot is more likely to boil dry.
Lift the pudding out of the pan after four hours, making sure you keep the greaseproof lid on, that way you can store the pudding for up to two months.
On Christmas Day, steam the pudding again for another 2 hours, and serve.
If you're not sure what you're going to pour all over your Christmas pudding, take a look at my delicious Brandy and Orange Custard which include a cheats version if you're short of time in Christmas Day.