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Pour the stock, cream and milk into a small saucepan, add the garlic and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let the flavours infuse while you get on with the rest of the dish.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4/fan 160C. Butter a 2 litre gratin dish well. Mix the potatoes, leeks and ham (if using) together in the dish, and spread out in an even layer. Pour over the stock mixture and tuck the bay leaf in the middle. Season and sprinkle with the cheese.
Stand the dish on a baking tray to catch any spills. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Test the potatoes with a knife – they should be just beginning to soften. Remove the foil and bake for another 35-45 minutes, spooning some of the stock mixture over every now and again until the potatoes are tender. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.