For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350degreesF. and butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
In a small saucepan, combine the dates, rum, and 3/4 cup water. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer (BTB, RTS ), and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, and let the liquid cool. Puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth, and reserve.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.
Combine the brown sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until homogeneous. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gently stir the flour mixture into the butter-sugar in thirds. Stir in the reserved date puree.
Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until set in the middle. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
For the toffee sauce:
While the pudding is baking, combine the butter, brown sugar, brandy, and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (BTB, RTS), whisking frequently. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens to a sauce consistency, about 15 minutes.
To finish the pudding:
Using a skewer or chopstick, poke holes in the pudding every inch or so.
Pour half the toffee sauce over the cake and let it soak in for at least 20 minutes.
Serve the pudding in a warm pool of the remaining sauce. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
Reprinted from Own Your Kitchen by Anne Burrell. Copyright (c) 2013 by Anne Burrell. Photographs copyright (c) 2013 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.