1 Tablespoon butter
6 cups cinnamon brioche or challah bread that has been cut into 1/2-inch cubes (if cinnamon bread is not available, use plain and add cinnamon, see below)
2 cups milk (preferably whole)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
If not using cinnamon bread: 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
About 1 cup chopped strawberries
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish, and add the cubed bread to it.
2. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk, sugar, vanilla extract and salt to the eggs, along with the cinnamon if using, and whisk to combine.
3. Pour mixture over the bread cubes. Press down on the bread to ensure it's all evenly moistened. Allow the bread to soak for up to an hour, or bake right away.
4. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Then, cover loosely with foil and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the pudding is significantly puffed up and does not appear wet in the middle. Check doneness with a toothpick or knife inserted vertically into the center. If it is wet, bake for another 5 minutes (slightly moist is fine). The puff will reduce as it cools.
5. When ready to serve, put a large spoonful of strawberries on each portion, and drizzle with Grand Marnier sauce.
To make ahead: You can make the egg/milk mixture up to 3 days ahead, and keep covered tightly in the refrigerator. You can cube the bread ahead as well, then just assemble and bake just before serving.