Make the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray your preferred combination of 4-oz ramekins and 6-oz ramekins with baking spray (the 6-oz ramekins serve two in our house). Set aside.
Put the dates into a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will foam up so be prepared.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter, Lyle's Golden Syrup and brown sugar with the molasses with a hand mixer until soft and creamy, then beat in the vanilla and eggs.
Fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, and dates (with their liquid) and mix well to a soft consistency. Spoon into the prepared ramekins and place them onto a half sheet baking pan.
Bake the cakes on the middle shelf for 30 minutes or until a cake tester poked into one of the ramekins comes out clean.
Remove the baking pan from the oven and place the ramekins onto a wire rack to cool about 15 minutes. Unmold them onto the wire rack to cool to about 5 to 10 minutes more.
Make the toffee sauce: Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a medium-sized non-stick pan and stir together over a low heat until the brown sugar has dissolved.
When the cakes are still warm, pour over the toffee sauce and serve.
Instead of individual portions, you can make one large cake in a 9- x 9-inch baking pan that's been sprayed with baking spray and lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, then lightly cover with foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.The individual puddings (without the sauce) can be frozen and reheated for later.