1) Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan or shallow 2-quart casserole.
2) Toast the bread, then spread it with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. If you have a toaster oven, spread the bread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar first, then toast; the topping will adhere better.
3) Prepare the breakfast meat of your choice; about a pound is more than sufficient. Cooked, crumbled breakfast sausage, fried bacon, or ham are all good choices, though if you use bacon, be prepared for it to lose its crispness as the strata bakes.
4) To make the glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the brown sugar and syrup. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cooking until the sugar melts. Pour the glaze into the prepared pan, spreading it to the corners.
5) Lay half the slices of cinnamon toast in the pan, atop the glaze, cinnamon side up. Spread/place the breakfast meat on top. Cover with the remaining toast, cinnamon side up.
6) To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, milk or half and half, salt, and vanilla. Pour it over the bread in the pan, pressing the bread down into the custard.
7) Cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 36 hours.
8) When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
9) Bake the strata for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
10) Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Cut along the edges of the bread slices, transferring each piece to a plate. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar, if desired; or drizzle with maple syrup or honey.
Yield: about 8 servings.