Garlic and sage bread

1¾ cups strong whole wheat bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 package active dry yeast
3 tbsp chopped fresh sage, plus fresh leaves, to garnish
1 tsp sea salt
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp honey
⅔ cup lukewarm water
canola oil, for brushing
low-fat cream cheese, to serve


1. Sift the flour into a bowl and tip in the bran from the strainer. Stir in the yeast, sage, and salt. Set aside 1 teaspoon of the garlic and stir the remainder into the bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the honey and water. Stir well until the dough begins to come together, then knead with your hands until it leaves the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
2. Brush a bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in the bowl, and place the bowl into a plastic bag or cover with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
3. Brush a baking sheet with oil. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knock back with your fist, and knead for 2 minutes. Roll the dough into a long sausage, shape into a ring, and place it onto the baking sheet. Brush the outside of a bowl with oil and place it in the center of the ring to prevent it from closing up while the dough is rising. Place the baking sheet into a plastic bag or cover with a damp dish towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Remove the bowl from the center of the loaf. Sprinkle the loaf with the reserved garlic and a little flour and bake in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes, until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base with your knuckles. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into slices, spread with cream cheese, garnish with sage leaves, and serve.

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