Heat oven to 425°F. Butter a 10x8-inch oval baking dish or a dish of equivalent size.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower, and boil until slightly softened but still retaining some crispness, about 3 minutes. Drain well, and then slice them lengthwise so the stems are about 1/4 inch thick.
Arrange the slices, overlapping them tightly, in the prepared baking dish. Season with salt and several grinds of black pepper; dot with thin slices of the butter. Sprinkle with the cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake uncovered until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.