Cauliflower Cheese Bake Recipe

Best ever cauliflower cheese

  • serves 6 as a side
  • Easy

Cauli cheese. Arguably one of the heroes of British food. Is it really a roast dinner if there’s no super cheesy, crispy-topped, piping hot cauliflower cheese on the table? Easy to make, you may argue, but follow these handy hints and tips to make it unreal.

Advertisement

Top cauliflower cheese tips

  1. Browning a roux deepens the flavour of the resulting sauce, and gives it a toasty note.
  2. It may seem like a lot of cream, but it’s crucial for a truly indulgent result.
  3. Roasting the cauliflower first will help reduce the moisture in it, so there’s less chance of it leaking water into the sauce as it bakes. It also concentrates the flavour and adds a charred note that will up the intensity.

How do I make a roux?

A butter and flour base works to thicken the cheese sauce. Starch granules in the flour will swell and leach molecules that mesh and then thicken the béchamel.

Browning a roux deepens the flavour of the resulting sauce, and gives it a toasty note.

How do I make a smooth béchamel sauce?

The secret to a perfectly smooth béchamel sauce is to add the milk slowly, and whisk vigorously in between each addition. This means the roux can fully absorb into the milk. Take your time!

It’s really important to simmer the béchamel once all the milk and cream is incorporated – otherwise you will taste uncooked flour in the finished sauce. Plus, you need to get the sauce to the right thickness. It has to be a little thicker than you’d think, as the cauliflower will let some of its liquid out into the sauce.

How do I remove lumps from cauliflower cheese?

If the sauce does seem a little lumpy even after all that, there are several ways to fix it. Whisk vigorously or, if that doesn’t work, give it a whizz with a hand blender. It will smash the flour clumps into tiny pieces, which will then blend into the sauce.

Ingredients

  • cauliflower 1 large (about 1kg), broken into large florets
  • olive oil 1 tbsp
  • butter 75g
  • plain flour 4 tbsp
  • whole milk 400ml
  • double cream 400ml
  • mature cheddar 150g, grated
  • nutmeg a good grating

Method

  • Step 1

    Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Put the cauliflower florets into a bowl and toss with the olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Tip out onto a large baking tray, ensuring each floret has space around it. Roast for 20-25 minutes until lightly charred and tender to the point of a knife. Cool slightly. Turn down the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

  • Step 2

    Put the butter into a pan over a medium heat and, once melted and foaming, add the plain flour. Cook, while stirring, for 5 minutes until the butter turns a deep golden brown. Put the milk and cream into a measuring jug.

  • Step 3

    Turn the heat to low and splash in a few tbsp of the milk mixture and whisk vigorously. It will form a thick paste that might look a little split but will come back together eventually. Keep adding the milk, 2-3 tbsp at a time, whisking vigorously all the time, only adding more milk once fully absorbed and the sauce is thick. Once all of the milk and cream are in, you will have a smooth sauce. Simmer gently, while regularly whisking, for 15 minutes to cook out the flour and thicken the sauce some more. Remove from the heat and stir through the cheddar, grate in the nutmeg and season well.

  • Step 4

    Put the cauliflower florets into a deep baking dish then pour over the sauce. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is charred, bubbling and golden.

Check out our best roasts to go with your cauliflower cheese here...

Chicken and Squash Recipe with Sage and Fregola

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 692
  • Fat 59.9g
  • Saturates 36.2g
  • Carbs 21.4g
  • Sugars 8.8g
  • Fibre 3.6g
  • Protein 15.1g
  • Salt 0.8g
Advertisement