Butter a 9" round or square baking pan with 1 tbls butter.
Place dates in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add baking soda, Set aside.
In a bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter, the 5 tbls granualted sugar and the eggs, adding one at a time.
Mix well after each egg addition. Gently fold in flour, salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Slowly stir in baking powder and 1/2 cup of the date cooking liquid until cake mixture resembles thick pancake batter.
Discard remaining cooking liquid. Stir in dates.
Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes or until cooked in center.
Make a sauce by combining 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream, brown sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drizzle some of the sauce over the cake as it is cooling.
Serve the remainder of sauce seperately. Garnish with whipped cream.I sometimes use Cool Whip.to save fat grahams.