Over low heat in large skillet, melt sugar down to syrup; meanwhile, tear slices of bread into bite size pieces. Put bread in large casserole dish; sprinkle with cinnamon, raisins, and nuts. When sugar becomes brown syrup, turn burner off. Add 1 cup water (be careful as this will bubble over quickly. Stand away from it). When water is syrup color, pour liquid over bread mixture until soaked. Sprinkle top with grated cheese, if desired. Bake casserole at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered. Serve hot or cold topped with whipping cream. Makes 4 to 6 one half cup servings.