Preheat oven to 180°C.
For syrup: Heat all the ingredients except vanilla essence in a heavy-based saucepan.
Bring to the boil, remove from heat.
Mix in the vanilla and pour into a greased ovenproof dish.
Sift the flour, salt and ginger together and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light in colour.
Add the egg and mix through.
Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and pour over the apricot jam and dates.
Add mixture to the butter and egg mixture and mix through.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and lightly mix through.
Spoon batter over syrup in ovenproof dish and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Serve warm with custard.