Paula Dean's bread pudding recipe takes 60 minutes to prepare, including preparation and baking times. To prepare Paula Dean's bread pudding, begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and greasing a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Cube three cups of Italian bread, and allow to stale overnight. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups of granulated sugar, 5 eggs, 2 cups of milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread, and let sit for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of light brown sugar, 1/4 cup of softened butter and 1 cup of chopped pecans.
After the cubed bread mixture has set for 10 minutes, pour it into the greased pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until set. Remove it from the oven, and prepare the sauce for the topping.
To prepare the sauce, mix together in a saucepan 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and cook the mixture on the stove top over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture over the heat until the sugar melts. Add 1/4 cup of brandy, and stir the mixture well. Pour over the bread pudding. Serve warm or cold to eight to 10 people.