Begin by preheating the oven to 350 F/176 C. Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stovetop until it is very warm, not super hot. Melt the butter as well and whisk those two together. You can just warm them both on the stovetop too.
Add in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. If you are making it a savory dish, leave out the sugar and vanilla extract.
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, grease an 8x11 or 9x13 inch pan with butter or shortening, or spray it with cooking spray.Cut up your bread into chunks that are 1 to 2 inches in size. If you like the chunks big make them big. 1 to 1.5 inches is perfect.
Add the bread chunks/cubes to the baking dish. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then combine them with the other warm liquid after it has cooled a bit. If the liquid is too hot it will cook the eggs. This is the custard base.
Pour the custard all over the bread in the baking dish. Alternatively, add the bread to a large bowl and pour the liquid over it there, and stir it all together so it gets coated evenly. Either way works.
Bake the bread pudding for 30 to 45 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown. Check it after 25 minutes if the tips of the bread are getting too brown loosely cover the bread pudding with aluminum foil and continue baking.
Once out of the oven allow it to cool before serving. Top it with powdered sugar, maple syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit, ice cream, etc. Enjoy!