This NEVER fails to get a "wow" at the table... a huge sticky toffee cake in a ring doused in rich, glossy, sticky toffee sauce and served with a sweet vanilla creme anglaise.
Submerge dates in a pan with the cold water and baking soda, then heat to simmer. Bubble for 5 minutes to soften and so the dates almost dissolve. Transfer into a bowl and leave to cool.
Preheat an oven to 170°C. Beat the softened butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, then crack in the eggs one at a time as you continue beating.
Beat in half of the flour with the salt, baking powder, ginger and walnuts, then half of the date mixture with the water. Add in the other half of the flour once the first batch is combined and finish with the remainder of the dates.
Pour into a greased 2 litre bundt tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until risen, a deep golden colour and a skewer inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.
Throw all the ingredients for the toffee sauce into a pan and heat slowly. Bubble for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Poke holes in the cooked bundt sponge with the handle of a wooden spoon as it comes out of the oven. Dribble a little toffee sauce into each hole, then return the cake to the oven for another 10 minutes of baking.
Heat the double cream for the custard up in a pan along with the seeds scraped from the vanilla pod. Whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour together in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the egg yolk mixture as you whisk, then return the whole lot to the saucepan. Warm gently over a medium heat, stirring continuously until it thickens. (The cornflour provide a safety net to avoid scrambling). Bubble gently for 2 minutes, then transfer to a jug to serve.
Turn the sticky toffee cake out onto a huge serving platter, dribble toffee sauce all over and serve with warm custard.