Combine dried fruit, nuts, pear, zests, juice and brandy in large bowl. Mix well to ensure fruit is thoroughly coated in brandy. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugar, spices and treacle and beat again until well combined and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Stir in macerated fruit and nuts, breadcrumbs, flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
Grease two 1.2-litre pudding basins with the melted butter. Place a small round of baking paper in the base of each dish. Divide mixture between pudding basins. Cover with another round of baking paper. Take a large sheet of both baking paper and foil. Place them on top of one another; fold a pleat in the centre of the sheets. Tie baking paper/foil sheet over pudding basin (foil side up) with kitchen string, ensuring that the pleat is in the centre of the basin.
Place each pudding in a large saucepan with a saucer or trivet in the base to prevent the pudding from burning. Fill the saucepan with boiling water to come half way up the side of the pudding basin. Cover tightly and steam for 6 hours. Check the water levels in the saucepan every hour, making sure the pot does not boil dry. (It will take 4 hours in a pressure cooker).
You have 2 alternatives at this point. Either serve immediately with custard, brandy butter or whipped cream, or cool pudding and replace the paper and foil. Re-tie tightly and refrigerate up to 4 months. It is best to check pudding 2 weeks before Christmas to ensure no mould has grown. If mould has grown, then the pudding must be thrown away. However, you will still have 2 weeks to make another pudding.
When you are ready to serve, re-boil the pudding for 2 hours, until completely heated through, or microwave without the foil on medium for 20 minutes. Serve as before.
To make a round pudding You will need two 60x60cm square pieces of calico and ½ cup of plain flour.
Boil calico in large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute (if new, soak overnight and boil for 20 minutes). Remove from water with tongs and squeeze out any excess water. Sprinkle flour in a circle in centre of calico. Pile pudding mixture into centre. Bring calico up to enclose pudding mixture, pulling the calico up to keep pudding as round as possible. Tie tightly with kitchen string as close to the pudding as possible. Boil in large saucepan of water, covered, 6 hours. Keep checking the water levels in the saucepan to make sure the pudding remains covered.
Remove calico while pudding is still hot, but calico is dry (it is best to hang pudding through a loop in the string with a wooden spoon, between the rungs of an up-turned stool, or wedged in a drawer, while it dries). Carefully peel calico away from pudding and invert onto a serving plate. Let stand for 15 minutes or until skin darkens, then serve immediately.
Alternatively, once unwrapped, allow pudding to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, seal tightly in a freezer bag or airtight container, and refrigerate or freeze until desired. To reheat: wrap in a clean dry, un-floured, piece of calico, and boil for 2 hours.