The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Great Baguette quest N°3: Anis Bouabsa

Janedo's picture
Janedo

The Great Baguette quest N°3: Anis Bouabsa

Tuesday morning, we decided to go visit the Duc de la Chapelle, Anis Bouabsa's bakery in Paris. As you probably know, he won this year's Best Baguette. The bakery is situated in a modest neighborhood, far from the typical tourist traps and chic areas. We entered the bakery and asked he woman behind the counter several questions before buying a selection of breads. She was very nice and helpful. As we left the bakery, we took some pictures of the young baker/apprenti who was scoring baguettes and sliding them in to the oven. Disappointed by the quality of the photos through the window, Florence returned and asked if we could go inside and take just a few pictures. The woman showed her the way, no questions asked!

Once inside, who came through, but Anis himself! I felt like a teenager who was getting a real-live view of her movie star hero. He looked at me through the window and asked Flo who I was. I think he thought I was a bit idiotic because I had such a huge grin on my face! He opened the door and told me to come on in.

So, here you have two passionate home bakers in front of a master, and may I say the sweetest, nicest and most generous master. We started asking him questions and he told us EVERYTHING! He explained from A to Z how he makes his famous baguette. He adapted the recipe for home use for us and explained how we could do the steps at home. He showed us how to form the baguettes, slide them in the oven, what temperature.... EVERYTHING!

We even asked him if we could come and have a real lesson and he didn't say no, he said in September it could be possible.

Now, what he told us was actually quite surprising! The baguette dough has a 75% hydration, very little yeast, hardly kneaded, folded three times in one hour then placed in the fridge 21hrs. They are not fully risen when placed in the oven, it is the wet dough and the very very hot oven (250°C) that make give the volume. 

When I get some time, I will be trying his recipe. I feel success is near!!!!

Anis gave me permission to publish his pictures. They were all taken by Florence, "photographe extraordinaire".

Jane  

Anis Bouabsa

 ExplanationsExplanations

Baguettes à cuireBaguettes à cuire

OvenOven

BaguettesBaguettes

 

Comments

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

What an adventure. You will remember it for years.

Mary 

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Jane, can you provide any info on the flour Anis uses?

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Steve,

Oh yah! MAIN detail I forgot! For the baguette, he said that of course he learned with the T55 but uses T65. His other breads are sourdough, but the baguette is yeast, and he doesn't use a poolish, just relying on the very long, cool fermentation.

He uses an organic flour for one of his breads, but doesn't systematically because he'd have to pay a tax in order to be labelled "organic". He doesn't think it's worth it. His flour is "Label Rouge" which is a quality control label used for food products. I think he uses different millers. It is just a very high quality non-organic flour. He showed us the T65, T80 and the T150.  

Jane 

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Jane, thanks for your detailed response.  Now if I could only find a source of true French T65 (and T55 for that matter) here in the U.S. ... 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I would use the usual half bread flour, half all purpose for a test because I think it's the technique that really counts the most.

Jane 

Richelle's picture
Richelle

Wow, Jane, this visit and unexpected welcome must have been the highlight of your visit to Paris... I bet both of you were walking on clouds for the rest of the day..:-)

I'm sure we'll be reading more about your visit in the days to come, hope all worked out well on the homefront while you were away!

 Richelle

holds99's picture
holds99

WOW!  You really DID have an adventure.  Lucky you!  Thanks for posting the great photos and it's great that you were able to spend time with such a great master boulanger.  It's amazing that he doesn't use a poolish, only a a small amount of yeast and long fermentation.  That puts a whole new twist on things.  Really looking forward to seeing your results in the Great Baguette Quest. 

Howard

JIP's picture
JIP

Great shots and a great story thanks for the info!!!.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Jane.

What a wonderful experience! It sounds like Anis hasn't let his honors swell his head. I love the photos.

Now, let's see how Anis' recipe works at home!


David

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

How cool was that? Thank you for sharing the experience and looking forward to your new baguette experiments!

whammybar's picture
whammybar

Thanks for sharing- sounds amazing.

Did he share by any chance what % yeast & salt? 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

He said 2 g of yeast for 1kg flour.... but forgot to ask what KIND of yeast, fresh or dried. Oops. I think fresh because I know he uses very little yeast (he said it in an article) and 2g of dried would be quite a lot. I have the dough in the fridge. I put 1/2 tsp dried for 500g flour.

10g salt for 500g flour. He used course Atlantic that is put in the water first. I used ground Atlantic. 

Jane 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK, I finally found the time to test. Well, it is the very first time that I got a very open, big holed crumb. The taste was wonderful. I screwed up the shaping (wrong weight and a bit lopsided) but that is just a detail. I feel utterly fulfilled! :-)

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You've said you prefer asymmetric breads. ;-)

Photos? Formula?

I'm looking for breads to make while vacationing on the Oregon coast next week. Anis' baguettes are surely a candidate.


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

David,

Oh THERE you are!!! Hello!

For the formula, basically any baguette recipe that you like will do the trick using less yeast (say 1/4 tsp for 500g flour). It's the night in the fridge that changes everything! So, less yeast, longer fermentation. Please, do try it because I think you will be thrilled with the results. 

Jane 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

You did well Jane and took good notes. I'm looking forward to your photos and write up but we have enough to try I think.

Thanks for sharing.

Added by edit: Jane did the dough go into the fridge in bulk or was it shaped? 

Eric

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Eric,

The dough went in the fridge after the first hour (three folds), so in bulk. It is weighed and cut (mise en couche) cold out of the fridge, then after an hour shaped, then 45 min rise. Don't look for a lot of rising before going in the oven, it's almost totally dependant on oven spring. They literally explode!

Jane 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jane,
Do you happen to know how cold the retarding phase is? It would matter a lot in the development of acids (flavor). How did yours taste?

Eric

Added by edit: I see you said yours were delicious. I started a batch for tomorrow with 1/4 tsp in 500 g batch. Also added 1% (5 g) of rye. Should be ready to bake by 7:AM. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Jane.

I'm eager to try Anis' baguette formula. I've pieced together the recipe from your entries. It's in telegraphic form, but I would like you to correct any misunderstandings.

I want to try this while I'm on vacation with my kids and grandchildren on the Oregon coast next weekend.

Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes

Flour 500 gms (about 3.85 cups of AP flour)
Water 375 gms (about 13.25 oz or about 1-2/3 cups)
Yeast 1/4 tsp (for instant yeast)
Salt 10 gms (about 2 tsp)

Mix ingredients and knead.

Ferment for 1 hour, folding every 20 minutes.

Refrigerate for 21 hours.

Divide right out of refrigerator. Rest for one hour.

Shape.

Proof for 45 minutes.

Score and Bake at 250C (480F) for 20-25 (?) min.


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Yep, sounds good. I guess I'm a bit silly, but I didn't really dare write it all out and I'm not even speaking about it on my French blog. He was so generous about his formula (double what you wrote, but I did like you) and his technique, I just didn't feel right about saying, OK here it is! But essentially that is what I've done and he basically gave permission. Know what I mean? And I know that any recipe for baguettes would work, just reducing the yeast. I used 1/4 tsp.

Oh and for the kneeding, do the slap and fold technique and just until the dough takes shape, no longer. As soon as it starts to look like bread dough, stop! Don't go for windowpane. 

For the baking time, watch. He does them til they are pretty dark. He made his apprentice put some back in the oven while I thought they looked perfect! It may be a question of taste... but not light, let them go dark golden. 

Eric, it's 5°C. He didn't make a big deal about the temperature altering taste, he only said that it would change the ferment time. I know that bakers here change the temp in order to go faster or slower. I know that sourdough is more sensitive to temp changes as certain bacteria thrive or die at certain temps, but the regular yeast? I don't know. 

Happy baking and let me KNOW!!!!! Anyways I know you'll be astounded by the results (OK I should shut up, it might jinx) but even when I thought I'd screwed the whole thing up with my transfer to the oven, they were still magnificent. And the taste... ah!

Jane 

 

sergio83's picture
sergio83

Hi David,


My number sense is a complete disaster so I'm not sure if I've further reduced the  ingredient measurements properly.  After doing a number of conversions which I no longer understand, I ended up using a cup of flour and 2 shot glasses of water filled just past the 3 oz line.  This resulted in a very familiar runny dough which I've now learned is actually for ciabatta and requires hours (literally) of kneading in order to hold a shape. So I reckoned that was wrong and I used your cups measurements by dividing 3.85/1.66 which gave me 2.3.  I had already used six ounces of water so I figured I'd have to use 2.3x that for the flour so I multiplied 6(2.3) which, for me, equaled 13.8, but since I'm superstitious I rounded it up to 14 (I shouldn't be so afraid of 13, good things have happened to me when it's around, but what can you do with crazy?)-- at any rate, since I believe that there are 8oz of flour in a cup of flour I divided 14 by 8 and got 1.75 which I took to mean that I should have 1.75 cups of flour in the dough.  So I added three 1/4 cups of flour to the dough which resulted in something that, compared to the ciabatta dough I've worked with, was downright firm. I say all of this in case I made a mistake along the way.  This way you can tell me where I went wrong. 


What I love about baking bread, though, is that, so far, it's been very forgiving and even if I get things terribly wrong, so far I've always gotten a pretty good consolation prize out of it.


Thanks David, or whoever helps me out,


Sergio

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'll let you know how they turn out.


David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Baguette CrumbBaguette Crumb
Fat Baguette'sFat Baguette's

Left BankLeft Bank

Well, here is my first crack at this. The method is easy enough but my dough spread quite a bit. I was trying to get these to fit inside my steam pan so I could use a steam generator and give this my best effort. That means I had to make the so called Baguettes a little shorter and fatter than normal. Next batch I'll just bake them on a hot stone and steam.

David I ran this exactly the way you wrote it. I found it was harder for me to shape using my usual 65% hydration techniques. That was my only trouble with the method. As soon as I discover how to handle the dough better they will look right.

The KA French style flour is delicious. I'll try again tomorrow using my usual Harvest King. I did add 1% Rye which is about 1 tsp (5g) in 500 grams of flour.

Sorry about how worm like these look. Mama always said "don't stuff 5 #'s of stuff in a 3# can". Good advice I guess.

Jane: This is a nice easy recipe and I think it will make a great Batard also. Thanks for sharing the results of your outing with us in the colonies. Next batch will not be so moche!

Eric

holds99's picture
holds99

Your baguettes look very nice.  The crust has great character and the crumb is nice and open.  As I recall Jane said Anis used T65 fliour.  I have been experimenting with baguettes for a while using King Arthur French Style flour, which contains 11.5% protein and it has a high ash content.  When I decribed it to Jane she said it would be the approximate equivalent of French T70, which is close to the T65 that Anis uses.  I'll give the baguette recipe/concept (that David and you have come up with using Janes notes and recolletions) a try in the not too distant future, I'll use some of the KA French Style flour and see how it goes.

Anyway, your loaves look very nice and I'm looking forward to seeing the next batch you said you were going to do.  Best to you in your baking endeavors.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I'd love to see your results with that flour Howard. Don't forget to post!

Jane 

holds99's picture
holds99

I'll post something showing the results of the KA French style flour when I make them.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Eric.

Those look good to me. Is the shiney crust typical of what you get with your steam pan?

The dough was pretty wet, I gather. Do you think a few more stretch and folds would have helped?

Your experience got me thinking about what kind of flour I'll have available where I'm going. Hmmm ... I'll try to score some KA Organic AP flour or Guisto's Baker's Choice at Whole Foods in Portland before heading over to the coast. I'll take some instant yeast and my Escali scale with me.


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Eric,

Those look nice! The shape is always the problem with kitchen size ovens. I made mine too thin. I'll do a sort of half baguette next time. You should try different flours to compare because with our T65 the crumb was really really open, BIG holes. I assume it is a flour issue.

I found the dough quite hydrated but not as much as a ciabatta, so easier to handle. But again, I think it's a flour thing. I was really stupid because my sister arrived in the beginning of July and I totally forgot to ask her to bring me flour!

I'll try them again and show the results.

Jane 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks David and Jane, that's about typical with the pan and steam generator. I blasted these for 12 seconds and left the cover on for 12 minutes. My stone is 14-1/4X16-3/4 and I just have to find a pan that will fit better on the stone. I can make boules one at a time safely and sometimes 2 at a time if I'm careful and they aren't to large.

The dough was 75% and not too sticky. I did use flour on the counter after the first time stretching and that seemed to help. I think the next batch I will be more careful with handling  and degassing and you may be right about the development. The second batch I mixed a couple hours ago was HK and it was more well developed after a few french folds than the KA French Style flour.

It should be said that my wife and daughter have been raving all afternoon about how delicious the bread is today. That's uncommon these days so it must really be good.

My next trial will be to blend AP and Bread flour to try and approximate Jane's Type 65. I might break down and buy a  bag of KA bread flour since my HK is pretty strong. Any suggestions on this?

Eric 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Eric,

Keep us posted. I can't make it again before next week because I am busy with some other sourdoughs. As soon as I make it again, I'll post it. Do try the AP + bread. I'm going to try them using T55 just to see what the difference is. The baguettes should be even airier. 

Jane 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Baguette with HK flourBaguette with HK flour
Close upClose up

For some reason these appear lighter than they are. I was playing with the white balance on the camera maybe.

Anyway these look a little better. I decided to pre shape the dough out of the cooler by stretching it to roughly the length I want in the end. It was sticky so I dusted it slightly and covered with a towel for 1 hour. Then I removed the towel and folded top to bottom and sealed up the seam. I also squared up one end that was to skinny which also shortened it to the proper length. After further dusting and rolling around on the plastic cutting board, I transfered to parchment paper, pulled a barrier in between  the loaves and again covered with a towel to proof for 45 Minutes. The proof time was extended by distraction to almost 2 hours unfortunately but I slashed (poorly) and muddled on.

The bread was done in  23 minutes at 480. Normal steam on a pre heated stone.

Conclusions:
The crust is very nice and the crumb is a creamy chewy open air delight. It looks better than the batch from yesterday using  KA French Style flour but that is no doubt due to my ham fisted shaping.

The taste is noticeably unremarkable. It is good, and if I didn't know the difference from yesterday might even say great. The flour does matter. This batch is Harvest King Better for Bread with 5 grams of WW added to 495 grams of the HK.

Next I will try and approximate the T65 flour so common in Europe but for some reason a mystery here. A 50/50 mix of AP and bread flour. Could it be that simple?

 

From a bunker somewhere in the colonies,
Eric

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Eric,

You forgot to show the crumb! I'm crumb obsessed, didn't you know? :-) 

Otherwise they look wonderful.  As you can see in the blog post, Anis's baguettes are not perfect in appearance. They are pretty irregular actually. I was so happy to see a French baker that was so at ease with irregular bread shape. His boules weren't even perfectly round and the slash openings totally uneaven! Heaven!

Jane 

holds99's picture
holds99

These are made using David Snyder's recipe.  I used K.A. French style flour and retarded them for 21 hours in the refrigerator.  I shaped them right out of the refrigerator and left them out at room temp. for 2 hours in the couche, which I don't think was long enough because I think they were still cool in the center and could have stayed out another half hour or so.  Because of the high hydration it's hard dough to work with but I tried not to over handle the dough and shaped them cold and placed them in the couche for final fermentation.  One thing I would suggest is to heavily flour the couche, as one of the baguettes gave me some problems letting loose from the couche.  I used my nylon covered bread board to move them from the couche to the baking pan.  Anyway, I'm going to give it another few tries and fiddle with the recipe a bit. 

They had good flavor but the crumb was a tiny bit tacky, which I think resulted from them being cool in the center when I baked them.  They were baked on parchment lined pans and I placed a large pan, bottom side up, on top of the stone just before baking and then place my baguette pans on top of the large pan in the oven as I was leery about hot stone scorching the bottoms at such high temperature.  I  removed the large pan from the stone when I turned the baguette pans around, midway through the baking cycle, and it seemed to work...bottoms browned but no scortching.  Also a big blast of steam immediately after they went into the oven.

As I said, I'll try them again with some adjustments in the near future. 

  Baguettes No. 1Baguettes: Baguettes No. 1

 Baguettes No. 2Baguettes: Baguettes No. 2

  Baguettes No. 3Baguettes: Baguettes No. 3

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Howard,

Looks good! One thing about the timing. Anis's baguettes are thinner, so the 45 min at a fairly warm room temp works. Thicker baguettes like yours would probably need more time indeed. Though, this said, they aren't supposed to really rise before they go in the oven. It's the oven spring that makes them big and open.

I wouldn't be afraid to put them directly on the baking stone because that is the purpose of it! The high heat for baguettes top and bottom is important. I've never scorched their bottoms. It's the intense heat on all surfaces that make them spring. Maybe give it a try next time.

The crumb was a bit chewy probably because they were thick. This formula is adapted to a classic, thin baguette that weighs 250g out of the oven, so in our home oven would be shorter but still thin, see what I mean? A thicker bâtard would probably need to be baked longer at a lower temp to get proper even baking (just a theory). 

Thanks for sharing!

Jane 

holds99's picture
holds99

Although one of them spread and looks a bit like a batard, mine were 250 g each.  I stretched them as long in length as possible and still be able to fit them into the couche (18 inches) and get them into the oven and clear the door when it closed. 

I think you're right about putting them directly onto the stone.  They need "big time" heat immediately after they go into the oven.  The fact that the bottoms didn't get the intense heat from the stone may partially account for the slightly tacky crumb and directly onto the stone may have given me more oven-spring.  I'm always torn between risking scorching the bottoms on a highly heated stone and not getting enough heat onto the dough all the way around the surface.

I'll try them directly on the stone next time.  The crumb was fairly open but they need some work and tweaking.  As always, it's an iterative process.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Howard.

I tried making these while on vacation. They did not turn out well. I did not have a baking stone and had an unfamiliar oven. I got very little oven spring. The crumb was undercooked and dense.

This was by no means a fair test. I'll give them a try when I get back home for sure. This experience sure confirmed out important every little thing is when making bread.


David

holds99's picture
holds99

Good hearing from you.  Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.  I know what you mean about being out of your environment (oven, baking stone, etc.)  By the way, I really appreciate you posting your recipe for this baguette so the rest of us who want to try this experiment at least have a basis from which to start. Thank you. 

I'll be very interested in what you come up with when you return.  I think this technique is a very good one, particularly using very little yeast and long retardation, and well worth trying to figure out and perfect.  I'm going to give it another try within the next week or so and maybe we can compare notes when you return.  In the meantime enjoy your time away and have fun at the beach.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Howard.

I posted my results in a new blog topic to "top" the discussion. I think they turned out pretty well.

One thing I didn't mention in my blog entry was that I divided the dough in 3 parts. (That should be apparent, since the photo has 3 baguettes.) This allowed me to make thinner baguettes, which I think gave nicer results.

I will make these again. I'm not that fond of baguettes, but they make great sandwiches, and a baguette sliced lengthwise with butter and jam brings back so many delightful memories of mornings in Paris.


David

holds99's picture
holds99

Good morning, David,

Hope you had a good "get away".  Really looking forward to seeing the results of your latest Anis baguettes.  Glad you mentioned dividing the dough into thirds.  When I did it from your recipe I divided it in half.  Next go round I'll divide it into thirds. 

As for baguettes, I agree that there are more interesting breads to make with more complex flavors...but there's just something about the challenge of trying to understand and perfect the baguette process that really has kept me at it, off and on, for the past 10+ years.  Maybe, as you said, it has to do with the memories they evoke. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I think by the end of the year we'll all deserve medals for our baguette quest results. Don't you all think?

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hmmmm ... There are medals for exceptional valor under fire, for being wounded in combat, and some for more or less just showing up.

What did you have in mind, Jane?


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK, maybe I haven't been wounded in the effort, but my kitchen has been.  So, I don't know. A big baguette party would have been fun, but unfortunately the world is a bit too big, hélas!

Jane 

holds99's picture
holds99

Good Morning Jane,

Maybe what we need now is a benchmark to judge whether what we're doing in this baguette quest is on the right track.  I do recall you saying to Eric: "You forgot to show the crumb! I'm crumb obsessed, didn't you know? :-)"  So, in the interest of "sharing" maybe you could show us the results of your testing and experiments?  Would love to see them. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hi Howard,

The results are in my last blog post for the sourdough baguettes. I couldn't post pics here because my Gimp isn't working, but you can see them at

www.aulevain.com

The crumb is getting there!

Jane 

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Oops, my mistake! 

www.aulevain.fr

 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi Jane.

I have a question for you, since you are the only one who was able to taste the original from the hands of the master. How was its taste, in your opinion, of course. I understand that tastes are a very personal thing. But yours is quite developed, seeing how many breads you've now baked and tasted yourself, and therefore have a basis to compare with. 

And although this question sounds foolish, but I'm curious if what you tasted in Anis' bakery was truly in your opinion an award winning baguette?

Rudy

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Rudy,

Well, let's see. The baguette is judged on taste and it's physical aspect, crust and crumb. The baguettes are cut open horizontally and the openess of the crumb is judged. What is so spectacular with his baguette is that it has a perfect, crunchy crust and the inside if open, but it isn't a fluffy cloud-type, soft crumb. He uses T65, which is not a prefectly white flour and with the all night retardation, it becomes much more elastic than a regular baguette. The taste, is a nice, wheaty, in my mind, simple taste. It is incredibly complex (this is a sourdough eater speaking) but that isn't the goal in a baguette. You know when you have a great baguette in your hand and you unconsciously rip of pieces and eat? It's good, it's wheaty, but it is the texture that grabs you... biting in to the crunchy crust and then chewing on the crumb. His baguette is incredible for that and better tasting than a plain old regular baguette. 

Hope I answered you question, it's hard to explain.

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

You absolutely did. I just wanted to make sure that before I join the frey and try to figure out the further details of the process and the formula, that it was in fact worth it. :) And it sounds like it certainly is.

You know when you have a great baguette in your hand and you unconsciously rip of pieces and eat?

That describes my 3 weeks in France perfectly in 1989. :) I too love the thin crispy crust of a baguette with its sweet and wheaty crumb. MMmmmmm ... I'd like to offer an observation, for you all to consider and comment on. The amount of hours and the directions than Anis has given lead me to conclude that the dough cannot be chilled and must be fermented at room temperature to attain any amount of flavor. At least this is according to my experience. Any thoughts? Rudy

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Rudy,

He was pretty specific about the dough being held at 5°C for 21 hrs. The Three River's Bread that I posted from Mike's recipe had a nice flavour, much like the baguettes. The cold still lets the flavour develop.

But, what can I convice you about it... you have to TRY it!!!! And then tell us what you think. The hardest thing will be trying to choose which type of flour to use if you're in the States. David used the French style, but there are many possibilities.

But, yes, I'd say it's definitely worth it and the sourdough version with yeast is even better!

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Ohhh yeah. I will definitely be trying it out. :)
So are you using David's formula? Or did you develop your own?

OK 5C is about 41F, which is pretty much refrigerator temp. So that should be easy enough to try.

Thanks.
Rudy

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