Additional heavy cream for accompaniment (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 11 x 7-inch
baking pan; set aside.
Pudding: Place the dates in a bowl and cover with the boiling water; mix in the baking
soda and vanilla extract; set aside.
Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture and mix well; then add
the date mixture and mix well. Transfer batter to prepared baking pan, spreading
out evenly. Bake for 40 minutes.
Toffee Sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the sugar and
cream. Simmer gently for 3 minutes. Prick the top of the hot pudding with the
tines of a serving fork and pour the sauce on top. Place under a hot broiler
until it bubbles. Watch carefully, as it burns easily.
Serve warm drizzled with heavy cream or, if desired, whip the unsweetened
cream and dollop it on top of the pudding.