At Lauren's request, here's how I made the bread pudding. This is adapted from the recipe for "New Orleans Bread Pudding" in Joy of Cooking.
1. Grease a baking dish. The recipe said 13" x 9", but I used the differently configured roasting pan we had free, which is slightly smaller and deeper, since the 13" x 9" was otherwise occupied with sweet potatoes. And since when did I ever really follow a recipe anyway!
2. Cut as much Italian or French bread as will fit in the pan into 1/2" thick slices.
3. Whisk until frothy: 3 large eggs, 4 cups milk, 1 cup sugar (Joy says 2 cups--I thought 1 was plenty!), 2 tablespoons vanilla, one teaspoon cinnamon.
4. Arrange the bread so it's almost upright in the pan. Instead of putting raisins between the slices of bread (NO WAY!!!), I sliced a couple of cooking apples and put them between the slices. It worked out very well.
5. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and let it sit for an hour, occasionally squishing the bread down so the custard can infiltrate the tops of the bread slices as well as the bottoms (I found a potato masher perfect for this job).
6. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for an hour or so, until the top is puffed and lightly browned.
The recipe says to serve it with a whiskey sauce, which would have been lovely, but I had made caramel sauce for it, and we had vanilla ice cream as well. The only thing missing in our household (other than, at that point, stomach room for more food!) was a microwave to heat up the leftovers!