Wartime Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon

wartimecauliflowercheeseI NEVER thought I’d be able to enjoy

Cauliflower cheese during my 1940’s

Experiment. I guess this is because

when I normally prepare it, the sauce

has about 4 oz of cheese in it as does

the topping and with my cheese ration

being just 2 oz per week it just didn’t

seem doable, UNTIL I sat down and

worked out a way I could still have

this dish.


My theory was to make a well

seasoned tasty sauce with NO

cheese and use my 2 oz cheese

ration on top and the dish I prepared would be enough to feed 4 people if

served with potatoes or other veggies.

I decided to use one weekly ration of bacon to make the dish REALLY tasty.

My theory was to make a well seasoned tasty sauce with NO cheese

Wartime Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon

  • 1 fresh cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 pint milk
  • 1 onion or 1 leek
  • 2-4 oz (1/2 -1 weekly ration) of bacon
  • 2 oz cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • horseradish or mustard
  • knob of butter


Steam or boil the cauliflower and then drain well

While it’s cooking make the sauce. Mix the cornstarch into a thick paste with a little of the milk, add the rest of the milk and add a knob of butter.

Place on heat and slowly bring to a simmer stirring all the time, lower heat and add in salt & pepper, a little horseradish or dried mustard

Fry onions or leeks and chopped bacon in a separate pan

When browned add to white sauce and mix in well

Place cauliflower piled up in overproof dish

Pre-heat grill/broiler to quite high

Pour THICK sauce over the top

Grate the 2 oz of STRONG cheddar over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper

Place under grill until topping is nice and browned

Serves 4 if serving with large backed potato and veggies

THIS DISH is pretty frugal too. CLICK HERE to find out how much it will cost you!

23 thoughts on “Wartime Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon

  1. Hi,
    I just mad this dish for supper tonight and for once everyone likes the same dish. This cauliflower cheese dish was quick and simple!!! Differently is a keeper!!!!!!

  2. Of course it tastes just wonderful with a huge block of cheese melted on top BUT I was pleasantly surprised how tasty it was even with the SMIDGEN used in this wartime recipe..

    I have cauliflower at home and haven’t had my cheese ration yet this week…

    I think I’ll make this tonight again!

    PS So glad you thought the recipe was yummy- I thought so too…thanks to Marguerite Patten!!!

  3. Hi Carolyn

    I make something very similar to this, but in the sauce I use 2oz cheese, 2 teaspoons of English mustard and a teaspoon of marmite – tastes quite cheesy even before adding the cheese, oddly enough, and makes a very luxurious tasting meal – also try using mixed cauliflower and broccoli florets – adds even more flavour!

  4. I made this yesterday, with pasta instead of cauliflower, adding some diced peppers. We both loved it and will definitely make it again. Your tip for using cheese on the top really worked for my cheese loving OH and it’s good for my cholesterol levels too! I love your recipes, Carolyn, I was brought up in the late forties and can remember Mum and my Nan making up recipes to make do. I can remember macaroni being used as a milk pudding, not sure if it was made in the oven or on top of the stove, but I loved it. Any ideas?


    • Oh wow that’s a great idea! I THINK if using the macaroni to make a sweet milk pudding it would have been baked in the oven. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be started on the stove top and partially cooked that way first, then baked in the oven to finish it off and thicken up (I’m curious now so will try and find out more)… C xx

  5. I remember my mum doing macaroni milk pudding in the 60’s, baked in the oven with dabs of butter and sprinkled with nutmeg…….nomnomnom

  6. I made the corn-beef and potatoes last night with potato cakes it was great and its the first time i went to the supermarket and only spent £6.00 for a full meal , i remember my Mum making us this and it tasted just the same

  7. Well Ive just made and eagerly eaten the wartime cauliflower cheese with bacon, served up with Spring greens, Brussels sprouts and carrots!! My god it was absolutely delicous, thankfully there’s leftovers for lunch tomorrow, will definitely be making this again 👍😋 xxx

  8. These war time recipes are wonderful. I now have an idea where my dads recipe came from for, corned beef and tomato pie. This is a great family favorite. Layer corned beef with grated onion and tomato. I add chopped garlic and a thin layer of marmite. Watch the seasoning as it can be salty. Use good pastry. Always egg wash. And soon the amazing smell that comes from baking this will get you salivating.

    • Thanks Gary and the recipe you just shared sounds wonderful ..although I am veggie I do remember what corned beef tasted like so am sure its a tasty dish xx

      • Hi Carolyn, you have made me consider substituting maris piper potato slices with cheese. I think mixing marmite, passata and tomato puree. To layer between the potatoes could be make a great pie.

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  13. I tried making this tonight, and it was delicious! Thank you for sharing. I didn’t add the butter, but I did add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire and a splash of verjus, because I felt like it needed a bit of acid. I imagine a white balsamic would work, too. Yummy!

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  16. I grew up on cauliflower cheese with mashed potatoes, boiled peas, and the occasional bacon. This recipe was something that my mother helped her aunt to make during the war. The best way to make the sauce is to start with a roux (mixture of plain flour and water) mixed into a thick paste. Gradually add a tablespoon of milk, smoothing and pushing it into the roux with the back of a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Keep doing this until you have a thin liquid. Never add the milk all in one go. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow boil on medium and no higher. If you do this any faster, the mixture with have thick lumps in it and not be thickened at all. Stir constantly, remember to stroke the bottom and bottom edges (where your base meets the walls) of your pan. As it begins to give off steam, this will trigger the evaporation of the liquids and the gradual thickening of the sauce. When the sauce has thickened so that it has very minimal and low peaks of thickness, remove it from the heat. Take 1 fistful of grated cheese, which should be about 2 oz. Always use extra strong cheddar, white or orange, and you will always get a tasty, cheesy flavor. If you use just plain, mild cheese, it will taste like nothing. Mix off the heat until all the cheese has melted. Orange cheddar not only color the sauce but allows you to see when it has fully melted. Taste and season more if needed. Serve hot, poured over steamed cauliflower, not boiled cauliflower. Most people who did not live in the rural growing areas would never use leeks unless they were available at the time or they had grown them themselves. Leeks replaced onions if used. I hope this helps as I still make this for my family and I am now a grandmother.

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