In a small heavy sauce pan melt butter with brown sugar, add syrup and heat over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Add nuts if desired.
Cut bread into slices and arrange in pan on top of syrup.
In a bowl whisk remaining ingredients until combined and pour evenly over the bread.
Chill, covered at least 8 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring bread to room temperature. Bake, uncovered until puffed, about 40 minutes.
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