Peel the broccoli stems.
In a pot wide enough to hold the whole broccoli heads, bring the water, bay leaves, butter and salt to a boil.
Add the broccoli and cover.
Cook over moderate heat, turning once, until tender, 15 minutes.
Transfer the broccoli to a warmed platter and cover with foil.
Boil the cooking liquid until reduced to 1/4 cup, 5 minutes.
Pour the liquid over the broccoli, discard the bay leaves and serve.