This is a recipe from Paula Dean - the butter lady on Food Network. Needless to say I've taken some liberty in reducing the butter. There's no reason for your guests to have a heart attack on the spot!
I've tried this recipe several different ways. I'm not a fan of the original recipe as is but of course feel free to try it, you can find it here! Below I've provided my list of ingredients and instructions; I've omitted and changed quite a bit from the original. I've experimented with different breads and I like the results you get with regular ol' cheapo white bread. Yes, it's nutritionally void, but if you were looking for nutrition in this recipe, we probably need to have a little chat!
1 loaf white bread (like Wonder)
2 whole large eggs, 4 large egg yolks
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Directions: Toast bread in a 350 degree oven until dried out (you aren't looking for color but a little brown is fine). It will take roughly 3 minutes a side (though I've never formally timed this step - just test it to the touch). If possible, allow the bread to dry overnight to really get all the moisture out. I find it really important to not skip this drying step as it allows the cream and egg mixture to really be absorbed by the bread.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat until blended. Dip each piece of bread briefly in the cream mixture to ensure each piece gets coated (when I've skipped this step there have been random spots of dry bread). Arrange slices in a buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, 3 layers high.
Slowly pour the mixture all over the bread. make sure it gets in between the slices. I don't always use all of the cream and egg mixture as I don't want the casserole to be soggy - the amount you use will be dependent on how dry your bread is. You want some mixture pooling in the bottom of the pan, but it shouldn't be so much that it starts to come up the sides of the pan. I do not allow this to soak overnight. When I have, I don't like the texture of the finished product. I allow the mixture to soak for about 5 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. If when you are about to put it in the oven all the liquid has been soaked up add a little bit more.
Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes with the foil on (this ensures an even moistness) and pull foil off and allow to finish about another 20 minutes until puffed and lightly golden.
1 stick butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
added 1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.
I will often dry the bread and make the praline topping the night before then the day of, I'll soften the praline mixture by popping it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so and assemble the casserole. I put this in the oven about 2 hours before my guests arive as I prefer the casserole to set up a bit which it does when it cools.