Typical ingredients in a simple bread pudding include stale or day-old bread, eggs, milk, salt and sugar, with vanilla extract and cinnamon used to add flavor. Some recipes call for brown sugar instead of white and include raisins or chopped nuts, such as pecans.
To make a basic bread pudding, cut about 10 to 12 cups of stale or day-old bread into equal-sized cubes. Thick, hearty breads, such as French bread, brioche or sourdough, work best. Arrange the bread cubes evenly inside a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, 5 cups of milk, 1 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of cinnamon to make a custard. Some recipes also call for 2 to 3 tablespoons of melted butter in the custard as well.
Pour the custard over the cubed bread. Cover and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the bread to absorb all of the custard. Preheat the oven to 325 F, and bake the bread pudding for about 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pudding sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
To include raisins or chopped nuts, sprinkle 1/2 cup of either over the bread cubes before adding the custard. Optional toppings for the bread pudding after baking include powdered sugar, brown sugar, caramel and vanilla sauce.