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1. In a shallow dish combine milk and the 1/4 cup granulated sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Dip bread slices into milk mixture; place in a colander to drain.
2. In a large bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until lemon colored. Gently fold beaten egg yolks into beaten egg whites.
3. Pour 1/2 inch of oil into a heavy 12-inch skillet; heat over medium-high heat until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water. Reduce heat. Dip bread slices, one at a time, into egg mixture, spreading egg mixture on bread slices as needed to coat. Fry bread slices, four at a time, in hot oil about 2 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels.
4. Meanwhile, for syrup, in a medium saucepan combine the water, the 1 cup granulated sugar, the piloncillo, and cloves. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often to break up piloncillo. Stir in cannella. Cook and stir about 8 minutes more or until slightly thickened (about the consistency of maple syrup). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard cloves and cannella. Return sugar mixture to saucepan. Stir in almonds and liqueur. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 4 minutes more or until reduced to 1-1/2 cups.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange half of the fried bread slices in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Pour half of the syrup mixture over the bread slices. Repeat layers.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until syrup bubbles and top is lightly golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, serve with ice cream.