Lightly coat the interior of a rectangular baking dish with butter

Lightly butter bread slices on both sides

Place one layer of bread slices in the pan (trim to fit)

Scatter with 1/2 of the cheese and ham, and chives, if using

Top with a second layer of bread, ham, cheese and chives

Whisk the eggs and half-and-half together with salt, pepper and nutmeg

Pour half-and-half mixture over the bread

Press down on bread to help submerge and soak up liquid

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (from 2 hours to overnight)

The next day:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake pudding until the top browns and custard set but still a bit jiggly

Let cool briefly and serve

Note: This dish can also be assembled and baked immediately – no need to refrigerate.