I remember having bread pudding quite often when I was younger, but as we got older it went the way of the neglected barbies. Not sure why. (Maybe my mom can answer this.)
A year (or maybe two?) ago, I randomly had the desire to have bread pudding again and found this recipe. It is now the reason I throw all bread ends, stray buns, and almost-stale bread in my freezer.
Then when I want bread pudding (or when I have almost-empty bags of bread taking over my freezer), I just take out the bread and let it thaw/dry out overnight - if I've planned ahead. If it's spontaneous I'll dry it out a little in the oven.
Stir in the bread (and raisins if you like). And I prefer mine more bread and less pudding, so feel free to adjust as you like - I stir in enough bread to absorb almost all of the liquid.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. (Yesterday mine took a little over 40 minutes for the center to get done, but I don't remember if that's typical or not.)
Bread Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. butter, melted*
1 3/4 c. milk*
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon PLUS extra for sprinkling
8 c. stale, cubed bread
1/2 c. raisins, optional
Brown Sugar Sauce
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk together eggs, butter, milk, sugars, salt, vanilla, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Stir in bread (and raisins). Pour into greased 2 qt. casserole or 9x9 pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
While pudding is baking, make brown sugar sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour until combined. Stir in brown sugar and mix as well as you can. Gradually stir in water, stir until smooth. (If you add the water too fast and get little chunks of the flour/butter mixture floating, it's okay - it just takes a little more whisking, but they will blend in.) Cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and let cool slightly.
Serve bread pudding with brown sugar sauce drizzled on top. Or poured on. I won't tell anyone.
*I rarely have heavy cream on hand, so I substitute 1/3 c. melted butter and 3/4 c. milk. If you prefer, you can add 1 c. heavy cream, reduce the milk to 1 c., and skip the butter. I've had it both ways and haven't noticed a difference.