Preheat oven to 325°F | 163°C. Grease a large, heavy baking dish with a thin coating of butter, or spray it with cooking spray. A 10" cast iron skillet is my preferred baking pan for this recipe. However, you can use whatever works best for you: a 9x13 baking or casserole dish is another good choice.
Cut bread into ¾" - 1" cubes. (You should have roughly 10 cups of bread cubes.)Put the bread cubes into buttered baking pan or dish. Sprinkle dried fruit and/or baking chips over bread cubes (i.e., raisins, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, etc.). Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk 7 eggs until frothy. Add sugars to beaten eggs and thoroughly whisk together. Whisk in ground spices (i.e., cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg), salt, and vanilla. If you are using orange zest, mix it now as well. Mixture should be a thick, eggy syrup right now. Stir in milk (or half & half).
Pour the egg mixture over the bread cube mixture in the pan. Press it down a little with your hands. You should see a little of the liquid rise up in between the bread cubes.At this point, if the bread pudding seems really dry, mix up another egg with about ¾ cup of milk and drizzle that over the top. The amount of egg-milk mixture you need really depends on the density of the bread you are using.
Allow everything to rest for about 20 minutes to give the bread cubes time to absorb the egg mixture.
Bake 45-60 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the bread pudding – it should come out clean.
Allow bread pudding to cool on a wire rack. I usually loosely tent it with aluminum foil to keep it from losing too much moisture as it cools.
If you are adding a whiskey, rum, or vanilla sauce (Optional)When bread pudding has mostly cooled, drizzle with ⅔ of the cooled, prepared sauce. Reserve the last ⅓ of the sauce.
When you are ready to serve the bread pudding, heat the reserve sauce slightly and serve on the side as you would syrup for pancakes.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Recipe options include: Traditional Cinnamon-Raisin, Cinnamon-Orange, Cranberry-Orange, and Cranberry White Chocolate. Bread Pudding Sauce is totally optional. However, adding it will take your bread pudding to the next level!Our Spiced Whiskey Butter Sauce is perfectly scrumptious over warm bread pudding! Variations: Traditional Cinnamon, Cinnamon-Orange, and alcohol-free buttery Vanilla Sauce, and can be made with whiskey, rum, or alcohol-free.Nutrition information includes the "Basic Bread Pudding" recipe ingredients only. It does not take into account additional ingredients listed in the recipe options (i.e., dried fruit, baking chips, etc.) or ingredients in the Cinnamon Whiskey Butter Sauce.