In case you are wondering what kind of bread to use, here's my approach: as I'm consuming bread loaves (and in my case, they happen to be delicious bread loaves from a local bakery, but any bread loaves will do), I don't eat the end pieces. Instead, I throw them in the freezer. Once I have about eight loaves worth of bread loaf heels, it's bread pudding time. The especially nice thing about this is that I go through bread loaves pretty slowly (I actually store them in the freezer as I eat them, since the nice local bakery opts not to add preservatives), and apparently after every eight loaves or so, I'm in the mood for bread pudding! I say this because I've never had too many bread bits accumulate, and any time I've wanted bread pudding, there's been a good stock stored away in the corner of the freezer, waiting to magically mix with the milk and eggs and butter and vanilla.
Bread pudding is best straight out of the oven, so I usually take the bread out of the freezer before making dinner, and then make the bread pudding right after dinner, once the bread has thawed. That way, once people are feeling ready for dessert, it is freshly baked! Here's the recipe that I use, which is more straightforward than any I've found in my various cookbooks. It's the recipe my mom uses, which is probably why I like it so much:
Makes 4 servings
Preheat your oven to 325, and butter a baking dish (I use an 8x8 Pyrex).
On low heat, warm up 2 cups of milk and melt 1/4 cup of butter. Remove from the heat and let this cool off a bit.
Tear up your bread into pieces roughly the size of dice, until you've got 2 generous cups of bread hunks. (If you are using frozen bread as I suggested, be sure to thaw it first - an hour or so on the counter works fine).
Toss the bread into the baking dish - it should be about an inch deep, but this isn't a fine science. Pour the now somewhat cooled off milk and butter mixture over the top. Let that sit while you mix together:
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Stir this mixture into the bread and milk combination. Bake for an hour. Enjoy!