I had asked my super chef friend, Grace, for a bread pudding recipe because (a) I knew she had one and (b) I refused to use Paula Deen's version, particularly after her diabetes diagnosis and subsequent promotion of diabetes medication. Italics are mine.
15 slices hearty white Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread
12 Tbl (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter + extra to grease pan
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream (can substitute whole milk)
1/4 cup light corn syrup (can substitute equal parts honey)
5 tsp. vanilla extract (divide 2 tsp. and 3 tsp.)
3 cups half and half
5 large eggs
1/2 tsp. table salt
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange bread in single layer on two baking sheets and bake about 12 minutes until gold and crisp, flipping bread halfway. Set bread aside to cool. Turn down oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease 13x9 inch baking pan. Melt butter and sugar in large saucepan over med-high heat, stirring often until bubbling and straw-colored (about 4 minutes). [Note: If it gets too dark, it's burnt. If not "straw-colored" enough, then the sugar hasn't melted completely and the caramel will be grainy. Pay super close attention!] Turn off heat; whisk in cream, corn syrup (or honey), and 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Pour 1 cup caramel over bottom of prepared pan and set aside. Reserve 1 cup caramel for serving. Whisk half and half into remaining caramel.
3. Whisk eggs and salt in large bowl. Whisk in half and half mixture a little at a time until incorporated, then stir in remaining 3 tsp. vanilla extract. Fold in toasted bread and let sit, sitting occasionally, until bread is soaked (about 20 minutes).
4. Pour bread mixture into pan and bake for 45-60 minutes - top will be crisp and the custard will set. Let cool for 30 minutes; drizzle rest of caramel on top.
My attempt at the recipe does not look like hers AT ALL, which is fine. I found the caramel to be extra sweet, so I ended up not using the remainder on top of the bread pudding. In fact, I think I poured too much caramel on the bottom of the pan before I put the bread pudding mixture on top. All in all, it was gluttonous! I'm glad I tried making it. I'll have to experiment with different measurements to see what I like best though. My sweet tooth has been temperamental with me lately. :o\ Sometimes I like it sweet, sometimes not.