Place dates into a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4–5 minutes, or until soft. Then remove the pan from heat and add the baking soda. (The mixture will foam and then settle down again. The baking soda will help break down the skins of the dates so they more easily become a uniform part of the pudding later on.)
Remove from heat and let the dates cool.
Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the creamed butter mixture and stir in the cooled dates. Transfer the pudding mixture to the 10'' sauté pan and send it to the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. It should feel firm in the center but give a little.
While the pudding is in the oven, make the sauce by combining the sugar, butter, and heavy cream and simmer until it is a golden caramel color and slightly thickened.
Turn out the sticky toffee pudding while it's still warm, and pour the sauce over the top to drench it! Serves 10–12.
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