Place the chopped dates and bicarbonate of soda in the boiling water and leave to soften for approx. 15-20 minutes
Cream (whisk) the butter and sugar together until the mixture is paler, using a stand mixer if you have one
Add the remaining ingredients, including the dates and whisk together until well mixed
Place in a greased cake tin, the size and shape depending on whether you want very deep slices or 'shallower' ones. See discussion above
Bake at 190 degrees or 170 degree fan oven for approx. 25 minutes. This is based on a 20cm x 30cm tin. The bake time will depend on the size of tin you use. If you are putting the mixture into a deeper tin then you will need to bake for longer. Test if it is cooked by poking the top...if it springs back, it is done! Or insert a skewer. It should come out clean.
Whilst your pudding is cooking, make the toffee sauce...
To make the toffee sauce
Mix the cornflour with approx. 3tbsp milk in a small saucepan, making sure there are no lumps
Add the remaining ingredients and slowly bring to the boil, stirring frequently
Once boiling, turn the heat up so that you get quite big bubbles coming to the surface and keep stirring frequently for approx. 20 minutes or until the sauce becomes the consistency you require.
Remove from the heat and serve with your warm pudding and some dairy-free vanilla ice cream.