Allow bread slices to sit out and dry overnight or at least several hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.* Place oven rack at top level.
Spread 2 T butter onto bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 inch glass or pottery baking dish. Tear bread into pieces and fill baking dish. Don't crush down, it may appear too full, but that's ok. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups sugar and next three ingredients (through 3 eggs), stirring with a whisk until well blended. Set aside.
Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from stove and gradually add to egg mixture, whisking gently until combined. Pour over bread in baking dish. Press the chocolate covered raisins occasionally throughout the pudding. It doesn't need a lot, but creates a delightful surprise.
Place in oven and bake 60 minutes or until browned on top and set.
Remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes or so. Enjoy warm or room temperature.
* NOTE: If using pottery, I always place the prepared dish into a cool or very slightly warm oven and allow the dish to heat with the rising oven temperature. I never place pottery directly into a hot oven.
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