12 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place pieces of bread in a large bowl and pour milk over bread. Give it a gentle stir and let stand 10 minutes.
Whisk eggs in a medium size bowl; add sugar, raisins, 3 tablespoons butter, and vanilla and stir well. Pour egg mixture over soaked bread as you stir gently. You want the pieces of bread to hold their shape.
Pour mixture into a buttered 13 x 9-inch baking dish or sprayed with cooking spray. Stir together honey and remaining melted butter;drizzle over bread pudding. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are browned and mixture is bubbly. Serve warm or chilled with or without optional sauce.
Vanilla Sauce OPITIONAL
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Add sugar and milk. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring often. Meanwhile, stir together cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
When mixture comes to a boil, stir in cornstarch slurry and vanilla. Cook over medium heat 1 minute, stirring constantly, or until slightly thickened.
Variation: Instead of vanilla extract, split one vanilla bean in half, to but not through the other side and scrape out the vanilla beans and add it along with the milk. Remove the vanilla bean before serving. I usually place the split vanilla bean on a small plate and hold one end with a fork and scrape the beans out with a knife and place them back in the sauce. You can also just scrape the beans out first and not add the pod. This way you can save the pod for other uses.
Variations: Trade dried cranberries for raisins and add 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Use chocolate milk for whole milk and add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.