Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/Gas 3. Cut the dates in half and place in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk. Gradually beat in the eggs and, once they are fully incorporated, sift in the flour and mix thoroughly. Add the dates and water to the bowl and mix well.
Grease a baking tray with butter and then flour it. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Gently heat all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once all of the sugar granules have melted, remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
Serve the sticky toffee pudding topped with the hot sauce.