Place cauliflower florets in a large saucepan and cover with around 1.5 L / 3 pints of water. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 mins or until cauliflower has softened (test with a fork). Drain and transfer to a baking dish.
800 g cauliflower
For the cheese sauce:
Melt the butter in the same saucepan you used to cook the cauliflower, on medium - high. Add cornstarch / cornflour and stir well with a whisk for about 1 minute to make sure it’s cooked through. This will stop it tasting like flour in the final sauce. Tip: Aim for a lemon curd consistency here - if it’s too thin, add another ½ tbsp cornstarch / cornflour and mix well.
4 tbsp butter, 5 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour
Turn off the heat to pour in milk (this will stop the sauce becoming lumpy). Whisk through quickly, then pop back onto low heat and keep whisking until thickened, around 1 minute. Tip: If the sauce becomes too thick at this stage, add a little more milk to loosen.
1 ½ cups milk
Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and stir to melt it through the sauce. Tip: You can increase heat slightly to help the cheese melt if needed.
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
Season with nutmeg, and optionalsalt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Tip: If the sauce is too thick to pour, add a little more milk once again to loosen.
½ tsp nutmeg, salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 360°F.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower florets, making sure each piece is well coated. Top generously with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cheesy top is bubbly and golden brown.
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
Avoid Watery Sauce - Make sure to drain the cauliflower really well so you don’t end up with extra liquid in your baking dish.
Sauce Texture - If your sauce is too thick, add another splash of milk and stir to loosen.
Melting the Cheese - If your cheese is stubbornly refusing to melt, don't worry! You can increase the heat slight and keep stirring - it will melt eventually!
Storage - Leftover cauliflower cheese will last for 2-3 days in the fridge, possibly longer, when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Topping - Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, panko or seasoned stuffing mix for extra texture and flavour on that decadent cheese topping!
Cheese - Swap the cheddar for gruyere, Jarlsberg or raclette for extra bite!
Roast Instead of Boil - Mum always boils her cauliflower, but you can also use roasted cauliflower if you prefer. Pop on a lined baking tray and roast at 200˚C / 400˚F for around 20 mins until softened and lightly golden on the edges.
Easier Sauce - Instead of making the mornay cheese sauce, top the cooked cauliflower with thickened cream / heavy cream and cheese, similar to potato bake.
Extra Veggies - Try it with finely chopped garlic, sliced onions, capsicum / bell pepper or mushrooms stirred through the cauliflower.
Loaded Cauliflower Cheese - Stir in some lightly fried bacon and/or al dente macaroni before baking for a fusion cauliflower mac and cheese.