This comes from my dear cousin, Ruth Perkins Wilson (1926-2003). She was living in North Berwick, Maine when she gave this recipe to me in 1987. I have sweet memories of Ruthie every time I make this pudding. It is delicious, and has a very custardy texture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place bread cubes in a 1 ½-quart buttered baking dish. In a saucepan, scald milk; let cool. In a bowl, beat eggs well; add scalded milk, sugar, salt, raisins (if desired), and vanilla.
Pour mixture onto bread cubes and combine lightly. Fill a second, larger baking dish with an inch or two of water, and place bread mixture dish inside.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out nearly clean. Serve warm.