Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
Put the cream, stock and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Add the prepared cardoons.
Bring the pan to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cardoons are tender, which can take up to 1 hour.
Transfer to a gratin dish, discard the bay leaf, sprinkle with cheese and bake for approx. 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Cardoons require a bit of effort and you need to watch out for the prickles. Wear rubber gloves if you have them, which will also prevent your hands from staining. Cardoons discolour when peeled, so pop them in a bowl of water acidulated with lemon juice or white wine vinegar once chopped. First separate the stems if still joined and remove the big leaves. Discard any badly damaged outer stalks. Some people also miss out the very centre stalks too, as they can be extra bitter. Run a sharp knife or peeler down the edge of the stalks, removing the line of small leaves and spines. Use small knife or peeler to pare away the tough, fibrous outer layer and strings which run lengthways around the convex side of the stalk. Finally, cut the stalks crossways into 2cm crescents and drop them into acidulated water until needed.