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Though my favorite bread to eat alone or with a dab of butter or cheese is French-style sourdough, there is nothing better than a good Jewish deli-style brunch, featuring bagels and rye bread.

This morning we had some old friends over—East Coast-raised Jews; serious eaters.  It was advertised as a lox and bagel meal, but while planning the meal, I remembered that these friends had expressed extreme interest several months ago when I told them about my homemade pastrami.  And I had frozen some of the pastrami.  So, in addition to bagels, I made some sour rye bread yesterday, too, and thawed and re-heated the pastrami.

I used my favorite bagel formula--the ITJB Krakowski formula, but with 25% KAF Bread Flour and 75% Sir Lancelot—but didn’t shape many of the bagels with the Krakow twist (sounds like a dance … kinda like the Warsaw watusi).  They were very pretty and quite delicious. 

Our friends brought some excellent Pacific Ocean lox (with Coho Salmon).  But the pastrami was the real hit.  And the rye bread (from Greenstein’s formula via dmsnyder) was much admired. 

It was a real deli meal right here in San Francisco, where—for all our touted food variety—one can’t find a decent deli.  Another mutual friend—one of the Philadelphia Ginsburgs--dropped by for just a few minutes and had a quick bite, swooning at the bagels and the pastrami, and then left with a bag of bagels-to-go for his family.

All agreed that it was like a taste of the Old Country.   It makes me feel like I’ve done a service for the culturally deprived.  And the best news is there’s enough left over for Pastrami and Eggs for dinner, with both bagels and rye toast!


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I have said before that gluttony is among my favorites of the deadly sins; the craving for fat, salt and sugar is a delightful vice.  Favoring gluttony, though, runs contrary to my part time dedication to rationality; good sense indicates that gluttony can be detrimental.  This dissonance—which regularly afflicts bakers—is my topic today.

More particularly, I want to resolve that dissonance by showing that a semi-scientific experiment with pastry can employ the rational mind in the service of gluttony and vice versa.  One might—or might not—conclude that animal passion and mindfulness can co-exist happily in a wholeness of human experience.  Or one might conclude that the chubby guy is rationalizing his excessive indulgence.

The subject is pastry—specifically the Mini-Schnecken and Bear Claw recipes in Inside the Jewish Bakery.   The goal is to bake goodies to match (or come close to) the remembered experience of the Ideal exemplars of these treats.

I have previously baked Bear Claws using Danish Pastry Dough (a recipe from Fantasia Confections) and The ITJB Coffee Cake Dough.  Neither was bad.  The Danish Dough was poofier and lighter than my ideal and the filling in the Fantasia recipe expanded monstrously (too much egg, I think).  The ITJB Coffee Cake dough version was closer, but a bit too heavy and dry.  The ITJB filling was perfect!

Last week I made some ITJB Mini-Schneckens using the Cream Cheese Dough formula, and a filling of Olallieberry jam and cake crumbs.  I followed the formula to a fault…the fault being that the formula failed to say that the dough ball was to be divided in two before being rolled out to 18” x 8”.  So my cookies—with double the dough and double the filling--were more like mutant Danish in appearance.  Really good tasting though.  The cream cheese dough—consisting of only cream cheese, butter, flour and a dash of salt (no sugar!)—bakes up light, tender and totally delicious.

So, this weekend, purely for science, I made another batch of the cream cheese dough and a smaller batch of jam filling (Stan told me the filling should be spread very thin).  I divided the dough in two, and rolled out half—nice and thin—to 18 x 8, and smeared a thin coating of jam filling on.  I rolled it up and cut it into 1” pieces.

The result, while not exactly like I remember, is terrific.  The shape is about right, the texture is moist and delicate, and the flavor is incredible—not too sweet, but fruity and rich.

The other half of the Cream Cheese Dough was destined to be Bear Claws, my favorite breakfast pastry.  I rolled the dough out to about 12” by 6”, so not as thin as for the Mini-Scheckens.  I smeared the ITJB Almond Filling over a little less than half of the dough sheet, leaving a margin to seal with egg wash and finger pressure.

Then I proceeded with the Bear Claw shaping—folding the dough over the filling, stretching the whole thing lengthwise, then cutting it into pieces and shaping the claws (all with a bench knife).  The round ones pictured below are rolled from scraps of dough.

These Bear Claws are the best!  The dough has a wonderful tenderness and the savoriness contrasts nicely with the sweet filling; the whole flavor is only slightly sweet.  They look nice, too, though I regretted not having slivered almonds handy.

Though seeking to replicate a remembered gustatory experience is not a very scientific objective, I can say that I did carry out an experiment—minding the variables, observing the conditions, following a protocol, and evaluating the results.  The fact that the end result was the scientist and his lab assistant practically rolling on the floor in flavor ecstasy will not be written up in the scholarly journals.

I know I should try to tame my sweet tooth.  But the spirit of scientific inquiry compels me to bake more pastries until all the data is in.

Note for David:  the ITJB Cream Cheese Dough is what you want to use in your Cheese Pocket experiments.  Very tender, not sweet, but quite rich.  Very much like the Karsh’s cheese pockets.


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Today I baked two things from Inside the Jewish Bakery: one worked out very well, and one didn’t.  The double knot rolls with Honey-Whole Wheat Challah dough are just as I hoped.  The Mini-Schnecken came out all wrong.

First, the Mini-schnecken.  These are supposed to be like rugelach, except rolled up and cut rather than rolled in a crescent shape.  I used the cream cheese short dough from ITJB, and it was easy to make and had a great texture.  But as I was rolling out the dough to add the filling, I realized that the dough sheet was way too thick.  I followed the instructions, rolling one recipe of the dough out to 18” by 8”, and ended up with a sheet of dough that was about 3/16”“ thick, and when I added the amount of jam filling the recipe called for, that was too thick too.  I wonder if one recipe is supposed to make two sheets of 18x8 and the filling is supposed to cover both (more thinly).  That would make a product more like my experience of rugelach.

In any case, though they look nothing like mini-schneckens, they are delicious (some Apricot and some Olallieberry).  I especially like the dough…might be great for bear claws.  Here’s some photos:

The double knot rolls were a breeze to make.  I hand kneaded the dough and it had a great silky consistency.  The instructions in ITJB for shaping the rolls were excellent.  And the resulting rolls are superb.  They’ll be great with leftover turkey.


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Not much novel in my baking life lately.  

Last weekend I tried bagels using 50% Type 85 flour and 50% High-gluten white flour (Sir Lancelot).  The results were ok, but not as good as my previous formula (75% High-gluten flour and 25% bread flour).  These were too extensible (could have lowered the hydration with the lower gluten flour blend) and the ends didn't want to cohere.  The flavor was nice, but I think I'll stick with the proven recipe.

Friday I made a couple pizzas using Reinhart's Neo-Napolitano formula.  This one was delicious, with tart apples, walnuts and gorganzola.

Then, today I made a nice batch of San Francisco Country Sourdough using my usual formula.  

Perhaps next week I'll try more goodies from ITJB.


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I received my copy of Inside the Jewish Bakery a few days ago, and fairly quickly settled on the Bear Claws as the first recipe I wanted to try.  I’m kind of an almond paste freak .  You could call me a “MarziFan”.  

I made Bear Claws the first time a month or so ago, using the recipe from Fantasia Bakery.  That one used a Danish pastry dough—which was delicious—but the filling wasn’t right…too thin and eggy.  Stan and Norm’s filling, using a good portion of cake crumbs, looked promising.  The Bear Claw recipe in Inside the Jewish Bakery uses what they call “Coffee Cake Dough”, enriched with egg, sugar, shortening and milk powder, but not super sweet and fatty.

I’m not going to post the recipe, unless Stan says I should, but I’ll give you a bit of a narrative.

The dough takes a long time to come together.  It’s fairly batter-like.  It may be that my Bosch is not the ideal mixer for a dough like this; a KitchenAid might work better.  After about 20 minutes of mixing, the dough took almost two hours to double.  Then I punched it down, formed it into a ball and put it in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight.  The next morning it had doubled again and was nice and poofy.


This morning I made up the filling (almond paste, sugar, egg, cake crumbs, water, milk powder, salt) and divided the dough ball into three (the recipe says divide in three, but then refers to two batches making six pastries each…confusing).  The dough had a very nice texture, it is soft even right out of the fridge, and needed lots of flour on my prized New York Bakers kneading board.   But it was extensible enough to roll out to quarter inch thick strips.

The dough sheet is brushed with butter and the filling is spread over half (ok, I admit I made a bright yellow Pillsbury cake mix cake for the crumbs).

Then, its folded and sealed and stretched and divided.

Then the pieces are cut and bent to make the bear claw shape (some nicer than others).

After about a 75 minute proof, the pastries are brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sliced almonds (the recipe omits the almonds, but I don’t like my claws bare).

After baking, they get a brushing of simple syrup.  And they’re ready for their close-up.

These are delectable!  The filling is just like the best bakeries’.  The dough is not too sweet and has a nice moist texture, but with an eggy crust.

One recipe into my experience with Inside the Jewish Bakery, I’m happy, and looking forward to trying more.

Thanks, again, Norm and Stan.  Good work!


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They say everything happens for a reason, and I believe them.  But I can’t always identify the reasons some things happen.  Why was this bake of the San Francisco Country Sourdough (my version of pain de campagne) the best ever?   This was probably the 7th or 8th time I’ve baked it, but this one had that je-ne-sais-what like my best bakes of Tartine BCB and last week’s bake of Hamelman’s pain au levain.  Beautifully caramelized, golden brown, crispy crust; moist, airy-but-substantial crumb, with nicely gelatinized membranes; complex wheaty flavor with a hint of rye.

I guess I should compare this to other bakes of the same formula.

Here’s what was the same:

  • The ingredients and the basic technique (described below).

Here’s what might have been different:

  • My starter was very active (after last week’s near-death experience).
  • Both the primary ferment (3 ¼ hours) and the proof (2 ¼ hours) were on the long side.
  • My handling/shaping skills are improving, and I got a nice taut sheath.
  • I made a recipe-and-a-half so I could cold retard one loaf’s worth to bake tomorrow for some friends.

Whatever factor(s) made the difference, I hope I can do it again.

And excellent with some early Autumn barbecue.

San Francisco Country Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne) version 10-8-11

Yield: Two 750g Loaves; or Three Mini-Baguettes (235g each) and one 800g Loaf; or One 1000g loaf and two 250g baguettes; 0r Three 500 gram loaves; or…   



100 grams   AP flour

24 grams  Whole Wheat flour

12 grams  Whole rye flour

170 grams   Water, cool (60 F or so)

28     Mature culture (75% hydration)

FINAL DOUGH (67% hydration, including levain)

640 grams   All-Purpose flour (83%)*

85 grams  Whole wheat flour (11%)**

45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)

435 grams   Warm water (80 F or so) (56%)

17 grams   Salt (2%)

306     Liquid levain  (48%)   

* used CM Artisan Baker’s Craft (malted)

** used CM Organic Hi-protein fine whole wheat


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 15 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F

2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl and let stand for an autolyse phase of 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency. 

3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 20-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.  If the dough has not increased in size by 75% or so, let it go a bit longer.

4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):  After second S&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience.

5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: [Note: if bulk retarded, let dough come to room temperature for 30-90 minutes before pre-shaping.]  Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30-45 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.

6. PROOFING: Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.

7. BAKING: Slash loaves.  Bake with steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 450 °F after it hits 500F after loading loaves.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes (10 for baguettes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (for 750g loaves; less for smaller loaves).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.

Happy baking!


Submitted to


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I’ve been experimenting with bagels and pastries and I haven’t made sourdough in San Francisco for over a month, and I’d forgotten to feed my starter.  Then, we replaced our refrigerator and some things were unrefrigerated for a spell one day last week, including my starter.  This is not just any starter.  It is the starter made famous (in the bread baker section of the internet) by my brother David’s moving story (

When I opened my starter jar Friday to feed it in anticipation of this weekend’s baking, it smelled a bit nasty, and looked lax and wimpy. I feared I’d killed it.  I fed it the usual white-whole wheat-rye mix at 60% hydration, and went to bed hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through the embarrassment of explaining to David that I was an idiot who could not to be trusted with the well-being of vital microbes.  Saturday morning the starter showed life (whew!), though it had not bloomed from feeding as usual.  So I remained concerned.

I made up the levain Saturday evening for my Sunday bake, and Sunday morning it looked, felt and smelled right.  Disaster averted!

My bake this weekend was Hamelman’s Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat Flour.  David has been encouraging me to try Hamelman’s Pain au Levain and its variations.  Reading the formulas, this one seemed like it would be resemble my favorite pain au levain (from Acme Breads in Berkeley).  And it does.

This marked the first time I’d mixed sourdough dough in my new Bosch mixer.  The mixer came in handy since the formula calls for mixing in the stiff levain after the autolyse, and that’s always tough by hand.  The BUP handled it easily and quickly.  I mixed only about 90 seconds and the dough was supple and shiny.

I’m happy with the results.  The crust is crisp and the crumb hits that wonderful sweet spot between chewy and tender.   The crumb aeration is just what I always hope for in this type of bread.

The flavor is complex, slightly sour.   I'll bake this bread again and again.

David was right…again.  Good bread.


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I tried two very different doughs in my new Bosch Universal Plus this weekend.  The machine performed very well, and the breads were all good.

I made a batch (three pan loaves) of Hamelman’s Oatmeal Bread.  The machine handled the dough very nicely, and kneaded it to a moderate window pane in about 5 minutes (with a couple stops to scrape the bowl and shaft).  This formula calls for high gluten flour, along with whole wheat and rolled oats.  I had previously used bread flour, but used Sir Lancelot this time.  The resulting bread has a slightly firmer chew (a good change), but is still tender and moist.  The flavor is wonderful.  It was perfect for roast turkey sandwiches.

Then I put the BUP to the real test…bagels.  One major reason for getting this mixer was to let a motor knead stiff bagel dough, and save me from the sweat and strain.  In about 14 minutes of mixing/kneading on low speed, the BUP turned out a beautiful, silky dough.  I used 75% Sir Lancelot and 25% BRM enriched flour (a bread flour), and otherwise stuck with the Krakowski recipe in the upcoming Inside the Jewish Bakery.  After fermenting, the dough was very elastic, and it took quite an effort to roll out the strands.  After having experimented both with diastatic malt and honey in the boiling water, we’ve settled on honey for superior flavor.

The flavor and texture are very pleasing and they look nice too.

 So far, I love mah BUP.


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 Since my Danish pastry adventure last week, I’ve been keeping it simple.  Last Sunday I baked some of my San Francisco Country Sourdough (8.5% whole wheat, 6% whole rye, 40% liquid levain, 75% hydration).  I’ve reported variations on this formula before, for instance here (…and-oven).  Last week I used bread flour in the levain instead of all purpose, to get a bit chewier crumb.

It rose mightily and had good oven spring.  And the crumb was a bit denser than usual due to the higher-protein flour in the levain.  It had a nice,  mildly sour flavor.

Then today, I baked Maggie Glezer’s “My Challah”, with shaping assistance from my live-in semi-professional braiding advisor.

We did have a wide variety of previously frozen baked goods this weekend.  Brother David and his wife Susan were visiting, and we had some baguettes and some Tartine BCB and some of the gooey delicious Pecan Rolls I baked last week.  I heard no complaints (not that I was listening).

I also understand that David and Susan stopped for lunch today at Della Fattoria in Petaluma on their way back to Fresno.  Perhaps we’ll get a report on that nearly legendary bakery (maybe there are legends about it; I’ve just never heard them).

In addition to good eating, we enjoyed the cool North Coast weather and our late Summer garden, with its multi-colored Heathers.


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For the first anniversary of my bread baking and for my upcoming birthday, my darling got me a Bosch Universal Plus (how did she know!?).  I should have tried it out with a recipe I know well so I could start to evaluate mixing times and speeds intelligently based on experience.  But that would be too sensible.  I’d already decided it was time to try making Danish pastry dough, and that was the first thing my new BUP got to do.

Danish pastry dough is very much like croissant dough, but with egg (one whole egg and one egg yolk per three and a half cups of flour or so).   For a whole bunch of great lessons (mostly applicable to this dough), see Txfarmer’s post about her croissant quest (  The recipe for the dough and the pastries are from the Love To Bake Pastry Cookbook, by Ernest Weill, the founder of Fantasia Confections, a famous San Francisco palace of sweets that made happiness from the 1950s through the early ‘90s.  The cookbook, which Brother David has mentioned before, can be obtained in pdf format over the web for a $25 contribution (

This was my first time using that cookbook, my first time making Danish pastry dough and my first time using the BUP.  Surprisingly, there were no disasters (if no huge successes) and I learned a thing or two.

This cookbook uses volume measures, and sometimes shows weights, but I’m not sure they’re accurately translated.  (I’d promise to work on this dough and report back with a reliable formula, but I can’t eat this much sugar and butter again right away).  The dough formula in the cookbook called for too little flour (by weight) and too little mixing time.  I added both, but I’m not sure if I got it right.  I also departed from the procedures in the book somewhat.

Here’s where I ended up:

Danish Pastry Dough (yields 4 pastry rings or 32-48 pastries depending on size)


1 ¼ cups milk (120 F)

1 ¾ tsp instant yeast

heaping ¼ cup sugar

3 ½ cups AP flour (about 18 ½ ounces)

½ tsp salt

1 Tbsp lemon zest

2 tsp vanilla

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

½ cube sweet butter, melted


Mix all ingredients except the flour on low speed for one minute.  Add 3 cups of flour and mix on low speed for four minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Add the remaining ½ cup of flour slowly, then mix on low speed another 3-5 minutes (again, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary) until the dough forms a good ball.


Once I had a workable dough (moderately strong if still somewhat loose), the lamination process begins (as for croissant dough).  Scrape the dough onto a very well floured board and shape into a rectangle.  While the dough rests, pound/roll 2 ½ cubes of cold sweet butter into a 9” by 8” sheet and then refrigerate it while you roll out the dough.  With a well-floured pin, roll the dough out to 10” by 15”.  Plop the butter sheet on top of one side of the dough sheet, fold the unbuttered part of the dough over the butter sheet (it’ll half cover it), then fold the opposite (buttered) side over into a tri-fold (there are good illustrations—worth a thousand words--in the cookbook).  Seal the seams.  Then, roll the dough block out to 16” by 8”, wrap well in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Put the dough again on a well-floured board and let it rest 10 minutes covered, then roll it out to 18” by 12”.  Then do a tri-fold as for croissants.  Then roll it to 16” by 8” and refrigerate 30 minutes again.  Repeat this process of rolling, folding, rolling and refrigerating two more times.  Then the dough (in a 16’ by 8” block) goes in the fridge overnight.

Pecan Rolls

The memory of Fantasia’s pecan rolls is what led Brother David on a search for the recipe, resulting in his discovery of the cookbook download.  I only vaguely remember them.  What I remember best are Fantasia’s opera cakes, Napoleans and eclairs.  These pecan rolls are a high-butter, high-sugar version of typical cinnamon-pecan rolls.  Half way between candy and bread.

Prepare a 12-cavity muffin tin with non-stick baking spray.  Then coat the bottom and sides of the cavities with glaze (see recipe below) and 1 ½ cups of pecan pieces. Take ¼ of the dough recipe above.  Roll out to 6” by 16”.  Slather on melted butter (about 2 Tbsp).  Then cover with 3 Tbsp of cinnamon-sugar and ½ cup of fairly finely ground pecans.  Press the filling into the dough and roll it up into a 16” log, jelly roll style.  Cut into 12 pieces and put one in each muffin cavity.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours).  Then bake at 375 F for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool 10 minutes, then invert onto a baking sheet (and scrape the nuts and caramel goo left behind in the muffin tin onto the rolls).

Glaze:  Mix ¾ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup honey and 3 Tbsp of soft sweet butter until well blended.

The cookbook calls for almost twice that amount of glaze, and the result was way too sweet.  Otherwise, the pecan rolls are delectable: excellent melt-in-the-mouth pastry dough, and the ground pecan-cinnamon filling is outstanding.

  Start of proofing

  Out of the oven

Ready to eat 

Crumb shot


I guess I should freeze some for Brother David’s visit next week, though he’ll think they’re too sweet too. 

Bear Claws

I’ve always loved bear claws.  I wish my first attempt had been closer to my ideal.   These had way too much marzipan filling (I’m beginning to see a trend with this cookbook).  Next time I’ll cut it in half.  The following recipe cuts the marzipan to what I think would be a more proper proportion.

Take ½ of the above dough recipe and roll it out on a well-floured board to 10” by 15” (about 1/8” thick).  Cut the dough into two halves of 5” by 15”.  For each of these pieces, spread a narrow strip of filling (see recipe below) in the middle along the long axis.  Fold the dough in half over the filling and press the seam to seal.  Cut ½” slits along the seam every ½ inch.  Pull the ends of the log to spread it to 16-17 inches.  Cut each log into four pieces and bend each into an arc to spread the “fingers”.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sliced almonds and proof until doubled (about two hours).  Then bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes, then at 375 F. for another 10-15 minutes or so, until top and bottom are golden brown.

Filling:  Put ½ log of almond paste (3 ½ ounces) in food processer.  Pulse with metal blade until soft and smooth.  Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup powdered sugar and ½ an egg white to the processer, and pulse until just mixed and not lumpy.  Keep covered until used.

As mentioned, the recipe had much too much filling, and was way too sweet.  The excess filling also expanded hugely and kinda tore some of the poor bear claws apart.  Once they cooled, their swelling subsided. And it turns out they were a bit underdone inside (probably due to the excess of filling).  I will try this recipe again some day, but even if all the proportions were right, I think the pecan rolls are the real winners.

Too much filling

Start of proofing

  Out of the oven

  Crumb shot

I have ¼ of the dough left over.  Maybe I’ll make something else tomorrow.

So that was my first try at Danish pastries.  It was a pretty good learning experience, and I have a lot more to learn.  I wish I could experiment on these regularly, but I’d have to take up running, and that would have to involve someone chasing me.



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