Here's a recipe that turns humble ingredients -- bread, eggs, milk, and raisins -- into a rich and satisfying dessert. It also makes for a tempting breakfast item reheated in the microwave and served with milk, cream, or yogurt.
Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish or 9 1/2-inch round deep-dish pie pan, preferably ceramic or glass. You'll also need a shallow casserole that's large enough for the buttered baking dish to fit into.
Trim the crusts from the bread, then cut it into 3/4-inch cubes (you should have about 7 cups of cubes) and spread them on large baking sheets. Place the sheets in the oven for 10 minutes to dry the bread slightly.
Pour about 1/2 inch of hot water in the larger casserole, then place the casserole on the middle oven shelf.
Whisk the eggs and yolks into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the half-and-half or milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt.
Spread half of the bread cubes in the buttered baking dish and scatter the raisins over them. Pour just enough of the egg mixture over the bread to cover it. Let the bread soak for 10 minutes, occasionally pushing it down so it all gets saturated.
Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle half of it over the bread. Drizzle on half of the butter.
Add the remaining bread to the pan and pour the rest of the egg mixture over it. Wait another 10 minutes, then add the remaining sugar mixture and butter. The dish may be quite full.
Place the baking dish in the larger casserole and bake the bread pudding for about 1 hour. When it's done, the top will be well crusted and the entire surface will be puffed up. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 30 to 35 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving (3-inch square slice): Calories 523 • Carbohydrates 83g • Total Fat 18g • Saturated Fat 8.2g • Cholesterol 189mg • Sodium 627mg