In a small saucepan, heat the milk and 1 bay leaf to a gentle simmer, stirring so it doesn't scorch the bottom of the pan. Keep the milk on low heat.
Make a white roux by melting butter over low-medium heat in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Do not allow to brown. Remove from heat, then gradually add a bit of the warm milk to the roux and whisk vigorously. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring up to a low simmer, continuing to add more milk and whisk. Cook for 5 minutes until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Check seasoning; add salt, white pepper, garlic and the remaining bay leaf.
To prevent a skin from forming as the sauce cools, lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.
Serve with fish, shellfish, vegetables or egg dishes.
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