Stir together the milk and vanilla in a shallow dish. Soak the bread slices in the milk mixture for about 5 minutes, turning once so that they absorb the milk evenly.
Beat the egg with the sugar and pour onto a plate.
Heat the butter in a skillet until sizzling. Take the bread from the milk, holding it above the bowl to drain slightly. Dip into the egg mixture to coat both sides, then drop into the sizzling butter and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
At the last minute, sprinkle the tops with a little extra sugar and "broil" with a blowtorch (or place them on a baking sheet under the broiler until the sugar, melts, bubbles and turns golden).
Divide the bread among serving plates. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dribbling of fresh, ripe cherries and blackberries that have been sauteed in butter and sugar and possibly flamed.
Recipe courtesy of Laura Calder