Ingredients for 4 people:8 slices of white bread (not fresh)175 ml milk100 g breadcrumbs50 g sugar (plus 2 or 3tbsp to sprinkle on the fried bread)8 tbsp strawberry jam4-5 tbsp plain flour2 eggs2 tsp cinnamon400 ml extra virgin olive oil
Quickly dip 2 slices of bread into the milk sweetened with 50 g of sugar, and then spread each one with a heaped spoonful of jam. Sandwich the slices together and dip them in the flour, then in the well beaten eggs and, lastly, coat them with the breadcrumbs. Prepare the other slices of bread in the same way. Pour the oil into a large frying pan, heat it well (test the temperature of the oil with a small piece of bread, if it sizzles then the oil is ready) and fry the sandwiches on both sides until golden. Remove them from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and place them on a piece of absorbent kitchen paper, to get rid of the excess oil. Transfer them onto a serving dish, sprinkle with sugar mixed with cinnamon, and serve them while still hot.
This sweet and nourishing snack, suitable for both young and old, originates from a humble cuisine, which made use of whatever was available: stale bread, jam made with strawberries, blackberries or raspberries, and also the other ingredients, all conveniently at hand and within reach of the household’s “wallet”. This recipe was given to Giuliana Lo Franco by a man who owns the bakery (here we say “il forno”, literally the oven) in the centre of Chitignano, a village in the Casentino Valley in the province of Arezzo (where the River Arno originates), which in olden days was a very poor and isolated area.