12 cups cubed (from 16-ounce loaf) French or Italian bread
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Heat oven to 325°F.
Spread bread cubes onto two ungreased baking sheets. Place onto separate oven racks. Bake 25-33 minutes or until dry and just beginning to turn light golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time. Cool completely.
Spray 13x9-inch glass baking pan or casserole dish with no-stick cooking spray. Place dried bread into dish.
Combine all remaining bread mixture ingredients in bowl; beat with whisk until well mixed. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread, pressing bread down until moistened. Cover securely with plastic food wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in bowl until smooth; stir in pecans. Place into resealable food container; refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 350°F.
Sprinkle top of bread mixture evenly with topping. Bake 40-50 minutes or until puffed and golden. (Do not over bake.) Serve immediately.
Use a light, airy French or Italian bread. A rustic version will result in a heavy, dry French toast.