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Category ... Ingredients

One of My Most Important Techniques for Maximizing Texture and Flavor

Aug 11, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know


I've referred to it in every one of my books and have always wanted to put it all together in one place. Here it is now on Food52.

A New Chocolate Love

Jul 16, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


I have fallen in love with a new Valrhona chocolate called Illanka. I first tasted it when it was introduced at the recent Valrhona cocktail party in New York City and was nothing short of amazed. I've been a long time fan of the Valrhona Le Noir Gastronomie, aka extra bitter 61% but I found the Illanka much more exciting. Not only is it extraordinarily creamy and well-balanced, it is intensely chocolaty with an enticingly fruity finish that makes me want to reach for more.

Illanka chocolate comes from Peru and is made from Gran Blanco beans--very rare white cocoa beans found in the Piura region. Valrhona has given it the name Illanka which comes from Illa, the light and Anka, Condor in Quechua, the speaking language in Peru.

Illanka is delicious eaten just as it is, without further enhancement, but also makes a fabulous ganache simply with the addition of heavy cream.

For a 61% chocolate such as Le Noir Gastronomie I use 9 ounces/255 grams cream (about 1 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons/259 ml) to 8 ounces/227 grams chocolate.

For the Illanka 63% I use 10 ounces/283 grams cream (about 1-1/4 cups/296 ml) to 8 oz/227 grams chocolate.

Illanka can be bought on line.
Valrhona will donate $1.00 USD to the Clear Water charity project for every 500 gram/17.5 ounce bag of Illanka chocolate purchased.

Illanka has an interesting history. If you would like to learn more about it and the impact Valrhona's creation of The Clean Water Project is making on the surrounding cocoa producing communities follow this link.

Essential Information on Egg Whites

Jul 13, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Food52 just posted my article about egg whites in baking. As a baker, you will find this invaluable.

Essential Information on Egg Yolks

Jul 05, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Food52 just posted my article about the shrinking of egg yolks and how to adjust for this. As a baker, you will find this invaluable.

More on Beating Egg Whites

Jul 02, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

A while back, I did an in depth posting on beating egg whites, but I have something important to add if not using cream of tartar to ensure stability.

If the proper amount of cream of tartar is used it offers 100% insurance against over beating and drying out the egg whites, which would decrease the volume of the baked goods significantly. When using the cream of tartar, the egg whites can be beaten to stiff peaks.


But when cream of tartar is not used, the egg whites should be beaten only until what the French refer to as bec d'oiseau which translates to bird's beak.


By not beating quite as stiffly, when folded into another mixture the whites do not deflate as much but will not offer quite as much volume. An example, in my orange chiffon cake, is when the whites are beaten to completely stiff peaks only 9 egg whites are needed instead of 10 when beaten to bec d'oiseau (curved peaks) to achieve the same volume when baked.

Heat-Treated Flour as an Alternative to Bleached Flour

Jun 04, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Siemer Milling is a Midwestern milling company that mills specialty flours for its clients all over the world. We became acquainted with the company through one of our bloggers who works for them. When she informed us that one of Siemer's specialty flours is a heat-treated flour as an alternative to bleached flour, we asked for a sample to test against chlorinated bleached cake flour. I had done similar tests both on my own and with the inventor of Kate's Flour, Kate Coldrick, when I was at her Devon, England home several years ago. I was so impressed with her flour that we included her technique for making it in one's own microwave in Rose's Heavenly Cakes and on our blog. Although we found Kate's flour to produce similar texture and height results, it does add a slight 'nutty' taste to cake batters.

At times, we receive questions regarding alternatives to chlorinated flours, especially from England and other former British Commonwealth countries. So we were eager to try this flour that is a commercially produced alternative. We tested the Siemer's heat-treated cake flour head to head with Soft as Silk bleached cake flour for making a single layer, whole egg, butter cake. This is the same cake batter recipe that we had used for our "The Power of Flour" tests and blog posting that we conducted several years ago. With our control cake test notes for referencing, we made two cakes--one with Siemer's heat-treated flour and the other with Soft-as Silk bleached cake flour.

Our testing resulted in the following observations for the Siemer's flour:
The flour has a darker off-white color than Soft as Silk.
The texture of the cake was slightly denser and coarser, but had almost the same softness as Soft as Silk.
The flavor did not have the 'nutty' taste that we experienced with home-made microwaved flour.
The flavor had a slightly 'rustic' taste compared to the Soft as Silk cake.

Our conclusion for this flour is:
The Siemer's heat-treated flour is a viable alternative to chlorinated bleached cake flour, with the understanding that the texture will be somewhat coarser and denser.

Baking Powder on the Rise

Jul 25, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science


Our preferences for baking powders are ones that are made with an all-phosphate product containing calcium acid phosphate and non-GMO cornstarch. Baking powders containing sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), to aid in releasing more carbon dioxide during the baking stage, generally have a bitter after taste, especially noticeable when added to pie dough.

Recently, Rumford released a new baking powder, Rumford Reduced Sodium Baking Powder, which contains 52% less sodium than leading brands and no aluminum. Rumford informed us that this new product activates mostly during the heating/baking phase. We were curious to test this new baking powder since timing of activation has a great impact on baked goods, especially muffins and cupcakes.

Letting the cupcakes rest before baking gives the cupcakes more rounded tops because if more of the baking powder activates in the early stage from the liquid in the batter there is less to disrupt the cell structure, during baking, needed to collapse the crumb to form a flatter top.

My White Velvet Butter Cake recipe served as our test recipe, since it is an egg white based butter cake and has a somewhat neutral flavor, which enables us to perceive differences during tasting more easily.

Since there can be a relatively long time frame to fill over a dozen cupcake liners, during which the baking powder will have begun to activate, we wanted to see if the new baking powder, which reacts more in the baking stage, would give us a wider window of time to fill the cupcakes and result in more uniformly shaped cupcakes.

We made two batches of cupcakes with each baking powder serving as the leavening for each batch. Once we filled the cupcake liners, we also let some of the cupcakes rest 20 minutes, and others 30 minutes before baking them. We baked all of the cupcakes for the same amount of time.



The test card shows the height in inches, then the width in inches.

The cupcake on the left, made with the original Rumford baking powder, had the batter stand for 20 minutes after filling the muffin cups and before baking as did the one on the far right, made with the new Low Sodium Rumford baking powder. (It is both flatter and wider.) The middle cupcake, which is very similar to the original Rumford, but made with the low sodium baking powder, stood for 30 minutes before baking.

The results indicate that the new Rumford baking powder is more effective in preventing doming for up to 20 minutes of standing time but not longer. However, when we gave them a taste test we found major differences. The original Rumford cupcakes had a more pronounced flavor and texture. The sodium reduced Rumford ones were milder in flavor and fluffier. We preferred the original Rumford for flavor and texture.

People are always asking either how to get more rounded cupcakes or flatter ones to hold more frosting. One of the major problems is that if making 12 or more cupcakes, by the time the last few cupcake liners are ready to be filled, the batter has been sitting in the bowl for at least 10 if not more minutes, resulting in more doming in the baked cupcakes. The longer the batter stands in the bowl before dispensing, the more the loss of leavening action during filling the liners. Once the batter is dispensed into the muffin liners this action slows down but is still taking place. So when the muffins are set in the oven, there is less leavening available to burst through the air bubbles in the batter to flatten the crumb during this heating phase.

Did you know that different brands of baking powder have different compositions, reactions, and results in the finished product? If you'd like to know why, continue reading!

Continue reading "Baking Powder on the Rise" »

Testing a New Baking Ingredient

Jul 19, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


When I read on the internet that there was a new product called a cake enhancer, that was purported to produce cakes that would be softer, moister, more fluffy and stay fresh longer, I couldn't resist trying it, especially when it consisted of familiar ingredients such as rice starch and fatty acids derived from vegetable fats, which act as emulsifiers, allowing fats and liquids to combine more easily and also serve as stabilizers and texture enhancers.

I made two identical cakes, with all ingredients weighed, and at the same temperature, mixed for the same amount of time at the same speeds, and baked in the same size pans. I added the recommended 1 tablespoon of cake enhancer per cup of cake flour to one of the cakes. This batter was promisingly smoother and spread more easily but the baked cake was disappointing. It rose significantly more than the control cake but cracked a lot on the surface. It was sweeter, less flavorful, fluffier, and more dissolving, but rather than being moister, had a slightly dry aftertaste, though becoming pasty on chewing.

A Flour by Any Other Name...!

Jul 12, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know

Just under the wire--12 days before The Baking Bible was ready to ship to the printer--Woody bought a new bag of "Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour" and to our shock, the name of the flour on the bag had changed to "Gold Medal Bread Flour."

I raced over to the computer to see how many instances the flour was mentioned in the book with the old name and there were 17. Then I put in a call to my editor, Stephanie, telling her what had happened and asking if it were possible to make this one last change. She called Jamie, the production editor who said it was possible. Whew!

When I first started working as a spokesperson for Gold Medal, several years ago, the name of the flour had been changed to "Harvest King Flour." Apparently many people were confused, thinking it was no longer the same bread flour. Some years later, after I was no longer the spokesperson, the name of the flour went back to "Better for Bread Flour." I'm so glad I can now make the change to refer it to in print as its latest name: Gold Medal Bread Flour, as it won't matter what the name may be changed to in the future, it will always be just that.

I use this flour for most of my breads as it has a slightly lower protein content than other bread flours and has the ideal extensibility, giving it the best rise and texture.

I recommend that if using other brands of bread flour, most of which have a higher protein content, to use half bread flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour.

For a soft white bread I prefer unbleached all-purpose flour which has a lower protein content.

And to achieve a high gluten flour, using Gold Medal bread flour, I add 3.7% vital wheat gluten or about 2 tablespoons per cup of flour.

The Secret Shelf Life of Arrowroot

Apr 05, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know


Arrowroot is used as a thickener for sauces and glazes. It is made from a tropical rhizome (underground stem). I like using it for glazes to top fruit on a tart, pie, or cake because it has a slight sparkle and also because it starts to thicken long before the boiling point so does not cause the fruit to soften.

Although cornstarch, also an effective thickener (when allowed to come to a full boil), has an indefinite shelf life if stored in an air-tight moisture-proof container, I have found arrow root to have a limited shelf life.

As a result of my move from New York, I discovered I had three bottles of arrowroot each of a different vintage. I seized the opportunity to do a comparative testing of their thickening powers.

The oldest one (now don't be horrified as I was!) was 24 years old! The next to oldest was 19 years old. And the third one was 14 years old.

The results were: The oldest arrowroot thickened but not effectively as it still had flow. The next to oldest thickened but not as fully as the last one which also was less tinged with yellow. This was was kept in an airtight container in an air conditioned room which accounts for its unusual viability. I recommend that if you want to be sure of the full effectiveness of arrowroot, use it up to two years from the purchase date and then replace it.

Oh Sugar!

Dec 21, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Several years ago, when I was writing The Sugar BIble for Food Arts Magazine, I obtained many different varieties of sugar. One of them, beet sugar, I intended to try out in sugar syrups and cakes as I had heard claims that it did not perform as well as cane sugar. I had heard that beet sugar would cause syrups to crystallize but on experimentation did not experience this. I never got around to trying it in a cake.

Recently, however, I came across a beautiful sparkling sugar: Zulka Morena sugar. Morena is a description of granulated sugar that has not been processed with conventional sugar refining methods such as filtering through bone char. It is an all vegan, organic sugar and non-GMO. As it contains a small amount of its residual molasses it has an attractive light tan color and lovely flavor. It's moisture content from the molasses is 0.6% compared to ordinary refined granulated sugar which is 0.4%.

Although I loved the flavor of the Morena sugar when tasting it plain, I was curious if it would change the taste or texture of a cake. So I ran a test of three sugars: fine granulated sugar, Morena, and beet. The cake with the Morena sugar took 3 more minutes to bake than the other two. The texture of the Morena and fine granulated sugar was the same but the beet sugar cake had a coarser crumb and a slight crunch. The flavor of the fine granulated and beet sugar cakes was identical but the Morena sugar cake was my preference although the difference was so subtle I'm not sure anyone would notice if they weren't looking for it.

The Zulka Morena sugar is so attractive I will use it when sprinkling on top of pie crust, pastry, and cookies.

Zulka Mexican Cane Sugar 4 Lb

A Merrier World Indeed...

May 21, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

with people like Kate Coldrick in it! (Though I've yet to meet another Kate like this one!)

Those of you who are not familiar with the problem of bleached cake flour being unavailable in many of the countries around the world, particularly the British Commonwealth, might enjoy putting the word "kate flour" in the search box of this blog.

I encourage everyone to follow this link to Kate's blog where she continues the saga of her success in spinning unbleached flour into heat-treated flour. It is through her extraordinary determination and inspired work that this flour is now available to the consumer! Hats off to Kate.

The Ultimate Cherry Pie

May 30, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips


Here's a simple natural way to enhance the quality of sour cherry pie--a secret given to me by Justin Rachid of American Spoon Food. It's called Michelle's Miracle--an intensely concentrated sour cherry syrup made from Montmorency sour cherries. Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your cherry pie filling and you'll be astonished by the depth of flavor it provides. Michelle advises that refrigerated or frozen it keeps just about indefinitely.

If you cant find sour cherries, or you miss the short season, American Spoon Food's Fruit Perfect Cherries is an ideal substitute, in fact, I've often preferred it to the fresh picked cherries and the reason is the addition of the Michelle's Miracle! My recipe for using the filling is on the jar and just below.

Link to My Recipe

Cherry Pie Using Fruit Perfect Cherries

2 jars (13.5 ounces each) Fruit Perfect Cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch (0.3 ounce/9.5 grams)
1 tablespoon water
l/4 cup sugar (1.75 ounces/50 grams)

Empty the cherries, with their
thickened juices, into a medium bowl. In small bowl, stir together the cornstarch
and water to dissolve the cornstarch. Gently and evenly stir this mixture
into the cherries with the sugar. Bake as for Cherry Lattice Pie, but at 400°F/200˚C for
30 to 35 minutes.

What a Wonderful World of Baking!

May 11, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Recently a fellow baker from the UK posted her despair in regard to the flour and, I believe, her cookies that were not coming out well using the unbleached flour available to her. I referred her to Kate Coldrick's blog and the work she has done with her "kate flour." Here is here heart-warming thrilling response. Isn't it just wonderful how we can all help each other to be the best bakers we can possibly be. And isn't it wonderful that Kate Coldrick's brilliantly creative and relatively simple solution to turning unbleached flour into what it needs to be to create top quality baked goods in countries where bleached flour is not available is traveling around the world!


Thank you sooooo much again for all your help this is incredible!!!!

So I made two batches of cookies (Toll house recipe), one using untreated plain flour (Protein: 10.3%) and one using Kate flour, AMAAAAAZING RESULTS !!!

The untreated were exactly as you described in your post, flat burnt pancakes w/no shape LOL !!! (and verrrry crispy in a verrrry bad way)

But the ones made with Kate Flour ...WOWZA !!! they were just PERFECTTTT, had shape, had height, perfectly even brown, AND were nice and chewy - Mmmm just AMAZING !!

So thank you soooo verrry much !!! You have changed my life forever !!! You are incredible !!! =D !!!!

I still can't believe it's the same exact recipe =O !!! They should really make Kate Flour or heat treated flour available to the public, it changes the entire game of baking and opens us Brits to a whole new world of food. . . *sigh* one day.



Tina P

Alternatives to Heavy Cream Based Ganaches

Apr 24, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips

My favorite frosting for the ultimate chocolate taste, texture and ease in making is chocolate ganache, which I wrote about, in a previous posting, Birthday Ganache.




When artist friend Martha Rast asked Woody, if we had any lactose free frostings,this lead to testing with unflavored soy milk to come up with a ganache that has a slightly tangier taste compared to the standard heavy cream ganache but also has an excellent flavor and texture making ideal for the lactose intolerant or vegan. The difference between a ganache made with heavy cream and one made with soy milk is that the soy milk gives a lighter color more toward a dark milk chocolate. Its preparation requires the addition of a higher percentage of the soy milk to keep a creamy texture that will adhere to the cake.

Here is the recipe for Soy Milk Ganache with Silk plain soy milk and Valhrona le Noir Gastronomie 61% cacao.

Soy Milk Dark Chocolate Ganache
Makes: almost 3-1/3 cups/29.3 ounces/834 grams

dark chocolate, 60 to 62% cacao, chopped14 ounces400 grams
plain soy milk, preferably Silk2 cups (16 fluid ounces)16.6 ounces473 grams
pure vanilla extract1 tablespoon..

Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium glass bowl.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4 cup microwave proof cup with a spout, or in a medium saucepan, stirring often, scald the cream (heat it to the boiling point--small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Pulse in the vanilla. Pass the ganache through the fine strainer into the glass bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool at room temperature for several hours, until the mixture reaches a soft frosting consistency.

Storage times are even longer than the heavy cream based ganache of: up to 1 week at room temperature; 2 weeks refrigerated; and 6 months frozen.


The success of the soy milk encouraged us to explore other non-dairy milks. We found that Silk Almondmilk works just as well as a direct substitution for the soy milk, is less tangy, adds a lovely almond flavoring which gives a richer dimension to the chocolate flavor.

Further exploration had us experiment with coconut cream and milks. Canned versions of both, which are thicker than heavy cream, produced a ganache similar in color to that made with heavy cream but had the disadvantage of a noticeably gritty appearance. Coconut cream contains 24% fat and coconut milk contains 17% fat. However, coconut milk in the carton has only around 6% fat. A couple of tests arrived at a ratio that works with the chocolate's weight at 15% higher than the coconut milk, which is the opposite of the soy and almond milk versions. The coconut milk gives a subtle coconut taste to the chocolate and the ganache's color is darker than the ganache made with either soy or almond milk.

Yeast Conversion

Apr 04, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

As this question comes up with great frequency, here's a second posting with a little more information on converting different types of yeast.

To convert fresh cake yeast to instant yeast, for 1 packed tablespoon/0.75 ounce cake yeast use 2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry

1 teaspoon instant (aka instant active dry)=1-1/4 teaspoons active dry or 1-1/2 packed teaspoons fresh cake yeast

1 teaspoon of instant yeast or active dry yeast=3.2 grams

Instant yeast can be added directly to the flour without proofing. it is available nationally under the following names:

Fleischmann's Bread Machine Yeast or Rapid Rise
Red Star's Quickrise
Red Star's Instant Active Dry
SAF instant
SAF Gourmet Perfect Rise

I store the unused yeast in an airtight container in the freezer where it stays fresh for as long as 2 years. (if it's a large quantity i store about 2 tablespoons of it separately so that the larger amount doesn't get subjected to oxygen and deteriorate more quickly. Instant yeast has more live yeast cells than active dry.

The Virtues of Heritage Turkey

Jan 22, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


I've long wondered what a heritage turkey would be like taste and texture-wise. I once tasted a wild turkey and it made my jaw ache it was so dry and tough, but I had heard that this was not true of the heritage variety. This Christmas I finally decided to take the leap or should I say flight? We had missed Thanksgiving this year and a year without turkey seemed like a sad state of affairs. When I called Heritage Foods I learned that only frozen turkeys were available after the Thanksgiving Season, but the price was considerably lower, so I ordered the 8 pound turkey to make for the two of us over the week between Christmas and New Years.

The frozen turkey took about 48 hours to thaw in the refrigerator. As soon as it thawed enough to extract the neck and giblets I cooked them to make broth for the stuffing. (I also cut up the neck and added it to the stuffing.)

I had heard that the breast on a Heritage bird was smaller in proportion to the rest of the meat than that of a conventional domestic turkey but though it was more raised and less rounded it turned out to be the same weight as the last turkey I had cooked. As the bird had been koshered, which means salted, I decided to roast it whole. My usual method involves removing the breast with the bone but leaving the skin intact, sewing up the skin and stuffing the bird, and then braising the rolled and herbed breast separately which predictably results in moist and tender meat. But to hedge my bets I placed the turkey on a rack breast side down to self-baste. I also followed the recommended instructions to bring it to a temperature of only 165˚F (the instructions that come with the turkey state that this is the USDA recommended temperature "However, the Chefs we work with around the country recommend a finished tepeature of 10 degrees less.".)


Continue reading "The Virtues of Heritage Turkey" »

Fresh Fried Egg

Jan 07, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


One of my most valued Christmas presents from my wonderful friend and neighbor in Hope, Maria Menegus, was a crate of fresh laid pullet eggs. Pullets are chickens under one year old and they had just purchased a new flock. The eggs are about the size of pheasant eggs--1-1/4 to 1-1/2 ounces compared to the large eggs used in most recipes which are 2 ounces. (I know the size of pheasant eggs because I was lucky enough to have found a clutch of them in our back yard some years ago!)

I thought that those of you who have never seen what a two day old egg looks like when fried would enjoy this picture. Note how the white is clear and both the yolk and the white are raised. I wish I could also share the flavor!

The Power of Flour, Part Three: Génoise

Oct 23, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

As a result of the experimentation we performed, featured in previous postings of "The Power of Flour," we found that we preferred potato starch to cornstarch when converting both bleached and all-purpose flour to simulate cake flour. Woody and I were then curious to see what would happen if we substituted equal weight potato starch for the cornstarch component in a classic génoise.

The baking time and height of the cakes were identical. The cornstarch version had a slightly tighter and more velvety crumb. The potato starch version had a slight potato flavor which was masked by the syrup. (Note if making génoise with more clarified butter and less syrup the potato flavor might not be masked as effectively.) Conclusion: For a classic yellow génoise we prefer the 50 grams cornstarch but equal weight potato starch is an acceptable close substitute. By volume, instead of 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon cornstarch use 1/4 cup plus 2-1/2 teaspoons potato starch. (However, for flavor and texture we prefer 100% Wondra flour to either combination, except when using decorative fluted tube pans as the finished height is slightly lower when using the Wondra.)







Que Serrano Serrano

Sep 04, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

It was 15 years ago that I last enjoyed Serrano ham. I had been invited by a Swiss colleague to accompany him on a two-day trip to Madrid to review restaurants for an airline magazine and as I was already in Switzerland for a weekend-long chocolate and pastry tour I couldn't resist tailoring the trip to tack on two or three days at the beginning to visit Spain.

In addition to the fantastic meals we experienced I fell in love with the Jamón Serrano (Serrano ham), so much so that I purchased an entire ham to bring back to my husband in NY. Much to my disappointment, this ham(which was probably illegal to bring in at the time and heavy to boot) turned out to be so salty that finally I had to discard it.

When recently I was invited to a Serrano ham dinner in New York, I leapt at the chance to revisit this specialty and was so glad I did. There is now a ConsorcioSerrano that governs the standards of this glorious ham to maintain consistency of quality. And it was great to discover that Serrano ham is now being shipped (legally!) to the US.

The dinner was held at La Fonda del Sol, located right next to Grand Central Station. The evening began with a demonstration by master ham carver Cortador Ricardo Garrido Robles from Spain.


As he magisterially cut translucent-thin pink slices of the ham, plates were passed for serving and none of us could stop eating the samples.


The ham was so perfect just by itself we would have been happy with that alone until we tasted the cuisine of Chef Josh DeChellis who briliantly integrated the jamón into each and every course. Pictured below were three of my favorites:

Continue reading "Que Serrano Serrano" »

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