12 thin slices day-old French bread, crusts trimmed
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 cups (1 quart) milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the center. Butter one side of each slice of bread; set aside. Butter a 2-quart souffle dish or baking dish.
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, simmer the milk and cream over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edges. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt until well blended.
Gradually stir the scalded milk and cream into the egg mixture; stir in the vanilla.
Arrange the bread slices, buttered side up, in the prepared dish. Strain the custard mixture over the bread. Set the baking dish in a roasting pan, and place the pan in the oven. Pour enough hot tap water to reach about halfway up the sides of the dish.
Bake the pudding until barely set in the center, about 45 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the water bath.
Preheat the broiler. Sieve a generous coating of confectioners' sugar over the surface of the pudding. Place briefly under the broiler until the top is glazed (watch carefully to prevent burning). Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
Serve at room temperature or chilled, alone or with raspberry puree.