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2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
5 slices soft, whole-wheat bread, each cut in half
2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 pound thinly sliced cheddar (optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter a 9-inch square pan. In a saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, butter, and salt until small bubbles form.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, then add the warm milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
Layer the square pan with the bread. Top with the pears. Pour the milk-egg mixture into the baking pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon.
Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Top with the cheddar, if desired, and bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.