Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce

Pudding
4 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 lb unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 lb loaf French bread, thinly sliced and toasted
5 eggs
3 C milk
1 1/2 C + 3 T sugar
1/4 t salt
3 t vanilla
1 C raisins
1 C chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

Praline Sauce
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1 C brown sugar
1 C heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9" by 13" glass baking dish with the softened butter. Set aside.

Tear the toast in bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, 1 1/2 C of sugar and the salt. Beat in the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread and set aside until it is completely absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the raisins with the pecans. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, nutmeg and the remaining 3 T sugar.

Fold the raisins and pecans into the moistened bread and transfer to the prepared baking dish; pat down evenly. Sprinkle the spiced sugar and the diced butter over the bread pudding and cover with foil.

Set the baking dish in a larger pan of hot water and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the pudding feels firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the foil and let sit for 10 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the pudding in squares, with the Praline Sauce spooned on top. Makes 16 servings.

New Orleans' favorite pudding, this version by Ferdinand Johnson.

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