Mini Marzipan Birds’ Nests Tutorial – Center Parcs Family Blogger April Challenge

how to make mini marzipan birds' nests

Even I think these are cute! Tiny mouthfuls of marzipan with a mini egg all disguised as Birds’ Nests. For people that are rather fond of grammar, I’ve had massive arguments with myself about where the apostrophe goes!

I’ve was set the task of designing (and making) a Bird’s Nest as part of my involvement with the Center Parcs Family Blogger club. There’s all sorts of tips for having a go and making your own on their website – why not have a go? CP suggested using liquorice laces which gave me the inspiration to use marzipan strands – and I could nibble it as I went along!

Here’s how to make your own Mini Marzipan Easter Birds’ Nests:

how to make edible bird's nests

You will need:

  • Marzipan (about 100g makes loads!)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Knife
  • Small Mould/Mini cake tins – I used a tray for making chocolates
  • Petit Four cases
  • Brown Food Colouring
  • Sugar Glue (or cooled boiled water)
  • Mini Eggs

1. Colour most of your marzipan brown leaving a small amount for making the ‘straw’

2. Line the tray/mould with the cases shaping them to fit – mine were rectangles

3. Place a small flattened circle of brown marzipan in the base of each case

  how to roll out marzipan

4. Glue around the edge of the circle with the sugar glue (try not to touch the cases with the glue but its not the end of the world if you do)

5. Roll out the brown marzipan until quite thin and cut into thin strips

6. Wrap the strips inside the petit four cases, building up and sometimes overlapping the edges

7. Leave to dry/harden for approx 2 hours

8. Roll tiny sausages of natural marzipan to look like straw and drop into the nests

9. Unpeel the cases away from the nests and plop in a mini egg (or a furry chicken)

HAPPY EASTER!

edible bird's nests tutorial

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and visited Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1okzxJv

Sticky Gingercake – Bake of the Week

ginger cake gingerbread recipe

Well, we’re back from a fantastic time at Center Parcs. Lots more about that to follow but for now I want to share my latest Bake of the Week entry.

I make this Sticky Gingercake a lot when we are going somewhere for a few days – It lasts really well and the stickiness gets even better if you can leave it alone in tin foil for about 3 days. I tend to make double so we have some to eat while the rest is ‘improving’.

Sticky Ginger Cake

Meal type Dessert, Lunch, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold

Ingredients

  • 8oz Butter
  • 8oz Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 6oz treacle (I tend to just pour it in and guess - these are rough estimates)
  • 8oz Golden Syrup (Again just pour it in over the sugar and butter)
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 7oz plain flour
  • 2oz porridge oats
  • 2 large eggs (whisked)
  • 1/2 pint Milk (I use Semi Skimmed)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 10" square tin (not a loose bottomed one)
Melt the butter, sugar, treacle, syrup and ginger in a pan, slowly - When melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool
In a large bowl, add the flour and oats. Make a well in the middle.
Gradually add the eggs and then the cooled butter/syrup mixture - keep mixing together.
Whilst still mixing, add the milk.
When all combined, pour into the tin (it will be a pourable consistency) and bake for 45-55 minutes
A needle should come out clear and the cake should be fairly crisp on the top. Enjoy!

Lovely to see that there was an entry for the first ever week of Bake of the Week – Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins entered the richest looking St Patrick’s Chocolate & Guinness Cake.

20140315_202239

The link is now open for this week’s Bake of the Week – Don’t be shy, get entering. I will tweet and Pin any entries swell as commenting and having a good old root around your blog! any baked items will do – bread, cakes, biscuits, tarts, desserts – in fact, why stop at one? Feel free to pinch the badge below and let other knows that you have entered (not compulsory)

 

Casa Costello
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I’m also entering this Ginger Cake recipe into Emily’s Recipe of the Week linky.

Link up your recipe of the week

And a new one … I’m getting involved this week with Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesday. Why not head over to see what other tasty treats have been consumed over the past week?

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

The lovely Romanian Mum has resurrected her Friday Foodie linky so I’m supporting her by linking up this recipe once again.

Romanian Mum
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Happy St Patrick’s Day Cake

irish green cake recipe

Happy St Patrick’s Day – Have some cake! (and possibly some Guinness to wash it down with!)How will you be celebrating or do you not bother? I’ll be going to a cookery demonstration tonight with WI pals and maybe persuaded to pop into a local pub afterwards.

I made this cake yesterday and there’s still plenty left. Its not a particularly irish recipe in that its a vanilla sponge cake but I have given a nod to the Emerald Isle with green frosting and a sprinkle shamrock on the top.

Doesn’t stop it tasting gorgeous though and somehow it seems to last longer than other vanilla cakes. I swore I would never share my vanilla cake recipes but quite honestly, its easier for me knowing where they are, when I need to make one. So go for your life …bake and enjoy!

Costello Vanilla Sponge Cake

Costello Vanilla Sponge Cake

Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Cold
This is a big cake. You will get 3 good sized 8" cakes out of this mix. The recipe can be halved by using 4 medium egg whites.

Ingredients

  • 675g Caster Sugar
  • 225g Butter
  • 7 Egg Whites
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 500g Self Raising Flour
  • 350ml Milk

Directions

Using an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and pale.
Add one egg white at a time, whilst mixing thoroughly. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add the vanilla extract.
Alternately, add one tablespoon of flour and a decent splash of milk, whilst still mixing together on a slow speed,until all the ingredients have been added.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time and turn the speed to high for approx 15 seconds. It will splatter and bubble so prepared!
Pour into 3 x 8" lined cake tins and cook at 180C for around 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. This is quite a flat mixture - it won't rise too much or give a big hump in the middle.

I am starting a new linky this week to replace Cake of the Week. A lot of my baking recently has been bread, biscuits and traybakes and I see some fantastic creations on blogs that I would love you to share.

The Bake of the Week linky will remain open until next Monday morning and I will post a roundup every Monday evening (starting 24th March). I will tweet anyone’s entries and also Pin them during the week. If you would be so kind to place the badge on any posts that you enter, that would be great. (Feel free to Grab the Bake of the Week badge to show that you take part if you like but not compulsory)

The only rule is that your Bake has to be from the previous week.

So Happy Baking!

 

Casa Costello
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I’m entering this cake in this month’s TeaTime Treats hosted by Karen of Lavender & Lovage & The Hedge Combers – The them is decorative cakes – I think I just about qualify – Its not one of my sugarcraft masterpieces but I must admit to loving the speed of decorating with buttercream!

Tea Time Treats Linky 5617″ />

Tractor Cake & Rice Krispie Treats Tutorial

tractorcake

I’ve come out of retirement AGAIN! My brother-in-law was 40 last week so out came the sugarcraft equipment. Since I last did a ‘proper’ cake, our one and only sugarcraft shop in St Helens has closed so it was a bit of a challenge to get the stuff. (Obviously if I was properly organised I would have ordered online!).

My brother-in-law is tractor mad – collects them in fact! My brief from my sister-in-law was pretty specific to the tractor but everything else was left to me – A Ford 7810. I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I was doing his cake and she produced the little ornament (pictured) that was used on his christening cake nearly 40 years ago. So that is why it is there! I’ve forgotten to ask what they thought when they saw it on the board.

tractorCollage

I knew that I wanted the tractor to be edible as the kiddies would be likely to want a bit so I used Rice Krispie Treats. I’m not sure how many UK cake makers use these but I love them. They are so malleable and cheap and easy to make – plus they are a lot more delicious that pure icing. The recipe I use for making RK Treats is:

RICE KRISPIE TREATS:

50g butter
200g Marshmallows (I use really cheap ones that are pink and white so that is why the picture is a little dark)
150g Rice Krispies (any brand)
Oil for covering your hands.

  1. I melt the butter in a large pan and add the marshmallows to it.
  2. Keep stirring REALLY well until melted.
  3. Take off the heat and add the Rice Krispies.
  4. Stir quickly to ensure that the RK are equally covered.

I tend to be a little impatient and want to start modelling before the RK Treats have cooled enough but it is best to wait for 1-2 minutes. Make sure you cover your palms in oil and squeeze together REALLY hard!! I cannot stress how hard you want to get the model.

I allow to set fully in shape and then brush with edible glue before covering with sugar paste. I have never managed yet to get away with only covering once so be prepared for double layers.

how to make models with rice kris pies

Chocolate Orange Swiss Roll

using up leftover chocolate orange swiss roll

This house is a diet free zone in January, I’m afraid. What we do believe in, is plenty of home cooked, delicious and comforting food for what some consider to be the most depressing month of the year. We live with an athlete and its my job to make sure she eats. With the amount of exercise Millie gets, she can more than afford cakes and treats. I would much rather see her eat something homemade than processed cakes and biscuits.

We are also economising this month – The week before Christmas, our food bill (and alcohol bill) came to over £400. Our cupboards are still nicely bulging – all we have had to do is stock up on fruit and veg so we are definitely living on cupboard food this month.

I love Swiss Rolls – Very easy to change the flavour and add interest with just small changes to the main ingredients. I even prepared, baked, cooled, creamed, rolled and photographed this cake within an hour, so its a speedy cake too.

Chocolate cake recipes nearly always say you should use ‘good quality dark chocolate’ – While I believe in using good quality products, when you are trying to be economical, you use what you have got. I discovered this morning that I had 3 bags of mini Terry Chocolate Oranges still left from Christmas that I had forgotten about (And I wonder why our bill was over £400!) So I used half ‘posh’ dark chocolate and half chocolate oranges in the cake bit.

Chocolate Orange Swiss Roll

Chocolate Orange Swiss Roll

Ingredients

  • 175g chocolate (see notes above)
  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Marmalade for spreading on the cake
  • Zest of 3 oranges/clementines/tangerines or 2 tsp orange extract (I use Lakeland's)
  • 1 tub double cream (284ml)
  • Icing Sugar for sprinkling over

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and grease and line a swiss roll tray/rectangle baking tray with baking parchment so some comes over each end - You will need this to pick it up with when it is just out of the oven
  2. Melt the chocolate either in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water (Do not let it touch the water) or at 10 second intervals in the microwave - When melted, allow to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they make soft peaks
  4. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk together until pale and start to thicken
  5. Add the zest of two of the oranges or 1 tsp of the orange extract to the egg/sugar mixture
  6. When the chocolate has cooled enough, add it to the egg yolk mixture. Make sure it is definitely cool enough - you don't want to scramble the eggs.
  7. Add the egg whites to the rest of the mixture
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes
  9. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, remove from the tin. The baking parchment will still be attached which is fine.
  10. Bend the cake as if you are rolling it while it is still hot and malleable
  11. While you are allowing the cake to cool for approx 10 minutes, whisk the pot of cream until it is thick enough to spread and stay put. You don't want it too solid.
  12. Spread a thin layer of marmalade over the inner surface of the cake and spread the cream on top
  13. Roll up the swiss roll and sprinkle lightly with icing sugar
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I’m entering again into Emily’s Recipe of the Week – This is a fabulous resource if you are struggling for meal ideas. Click the badge below…

Link up your recipe of the week

I am entering into this month’s Tea Time Treats – The theme for this month is EGGS – I think using 6 suffices? For more entries, click the badge below.

Tea Time Treats

Chocolate Orange Disaster Cake – Clandestine Cakealong

baileys orange truffle buttercream

This cake was no disaster, I’m telling you! The story behind this being a disaster cake is that Rachel dropped it on her way to her Clandestine Cake Club. I cannot tell you how many times over the years, I have been struggling under the weight of an enormous wedding cake and someone has joked about not dropping it. Happy to say, I’ve never dropped one …yet!

I did amend this recipe as Rachel’s original had an alcoholic buttercream with it – Much as I love my orange flavoured liquors, they are not that suitable with 3 kids in the house. I reverted to my trusty choc orange buttercream recipe and it went perfectly – Recipe below. Just to wind Dermot up, I also included some slices of Popping Candy Terry’s chocolate orange too. (I completely forgot it was popping candy and gave Tara a slice this morning – you should have seen her face!)

chocolate orange sponge cake

Chocolate Orange Disaster Cake – Clandestine Cakealong

Chocolate Orange Disaster Cake – Clandestine Cakealong

Ingredients

  • 125g Milk chocolate
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 100g Butter/Dairy Spread
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 250-300g Icing Sugar - Amounts depends on how stiff you like your buttercream
  • 2 tbsp Balieys Orange Truffle or 2 tsp Orange Extract if you want non-alcoholic

Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate and the water in the microwave until just melted and allow to cool
  2. When still quite warm, thoroughly mix the butter into the chocolate - I did this by hand with a knife
  3. Alternate adding a splash of the milk and the icing sugar and mix together until thoroughly combined
  4. Add the Baileys or the Orange Extract
  5. There should be enough mixture to spread in-between 2x8" cakes and all over the top and sides.
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Thank you very much to Stork for the free sample. I used it to make this recipe and it worked just great!

I’m back on track now with the Clandestine Cakealong – I think we’ll go with Lynn Hill’s Light Stem Ginger Cake for our next bake. Linky for your Chocolate Orange Disasters will remain open until Wed 20th November. Ginger Cake will be up Thurs 21st Nov.

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I’m joining in this week with Emily from A Mummy Too and her fabulous Recipe of the Week link – Its the place to go to for brand new recipes – Let’s face it, at this time of the year, we need a little inspiration!

Link up your recipe of the week

Marshmallow Brownie Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes

I’m not one to be defeated easily. My poor track record with Brownies has never sat well with me. When I was asked by Dr Oetker to enter their Great Chocolate Bake competition, I knew exactly what I was hoping to achieve. As soon as you mention the word ‘Brownie’ people turn to mush, mmm’ing and aah’ing. Well, I wanted them to do that over my recipe too – and by jove! I might just have got it!

Dr Oetker are challenging home bakers to come up with the ultimate chocolate cupcake – they sent a bunch of us some delicious ingredients and off we went. The prize is a fabulous trip to New York … and obviously the satisfaction of knowing I’ve finally cracked Brownies!

I’ve heard about S’mores for ages now but don’t quite fancy the cracker part of the recipe – so I came up with the Marshmallow/Brownie combination – I also wanted an extra dimension so went for it and added a Ferrero Rocher for decoration too.

The recipe and instruction for making the Brownies is below – I only filled the cases 1/3rd full – they don’t rise too much but the last thing you want is them spilling over. Once you have spread your frosting over them and added the Ferrero Rocher they are quite tall anyway. They are really rich – believe me, no-one will moan about the case not being full!

Before going in the oven ...

Before going in the oven …

I’m not going to lie, these are not pretty cupcakes when they first come out of the oven – the melted marshmallow oozes into the Brownie and it is impossible not to get a dip in the middle. As long as you know that is going to happen though, it is easily fixable.

marhsmallow brownie

Bear with … It gets prettier!

I added a marshmallow frosting – I didn’t want to start adding too many flavours by mixing a dairy frosting. Marshmallow frosting is super simple – just melt some mini marshmallows in a pan slowly and spread over the cupcakes. Beware, it does set really quickly though – you can add a teaspoon of glucose syrup if you want it to stay runny for that little bit longer.

The Tulip Cupcake Cases are an ideal way of disguising any rough edges on your original cupcake case. I bought mine but they are easy to make too – Tutorial coming soon! I finished with a pale pink ribbon to match the marshmallow frosting and added the Ferrero Rocher and I was done! Yum!

Marshmallow Brownie Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

Cook Time: 19 minutes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Marshmallow Brownie Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

Ingredients

  • 150g Dr Oetker Fine Cook's Chocolate Dark
  • 150g Dr Oetker Fine Cook's Chocolate Extra Dark
  • 250g Unsalted Butter
  • 185g Caster Sugar
  • 250g Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • One large marshmallow for each cupcake plus one bag Dr Oetker Mini Marshmallows for the frosting
  • One Ferrero Rocher (unwrapped) for each Cupcake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the Cupcake Tray with the cupcake cases.
  2. Break the chocolate into small chunks and add with the butter to a medium sized pan.
  3. As soon as the butter and chocolate have melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the 2 types of sugar until combined.
  4. Add one egg at a time, whisking continuously - make sure that the mixture is cool enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling
  5. Add the flour and cocoa one spoon at a time and mix in using the figure of eight method until just combined
  6. Fill each cupcake case 1/3rd full and place a large marshmallow in the centre of each. There is no need to press down.
  7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Remove and allow to cool.
  9. Just before decorating, add the mini marshmallows to a small pan and heat slowly - do not allow to boil.
  10. As soon as runny, spread a tablespoon of the mixture over the cooled cupcakes - I used the multi coloured Marshmallows and the frosting turned pink. If you use the white ones, you can add a small amount of food dye to match your colour scheme. Work quickly, they soon set!
  11. Add a Ferrero Rocher on top and place the cake inside a Tulip wrapper - Instantly transformed!
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For more information on Dr Oetker Baking range go to http://www.oetkeronline.co.uk

Disclosure: I received no payment for entering or promoting this competition. I did receive a Chocolate Hamper with some ingredients to use though. I had complete free reign on which recipe I used and made this one up. I highly recommend these cupcakes but take no responsibility for any growing waistlines!

Apricot Cake:Clandestine Cake-a-long 10

Apricot Cake

I thought I didn’t like apricots until today. I also didn’t realise how quickly a cake can disappear in our house – and that’s with all the kids in bed! Pretty safe to say this cake is a success with Dermot.

I was slightly worried as I was making the cake when I realised the only raising agents is the whisked egg white and the success of the cake relies on how gently I folded the egg whites in. I was very tempted to add a smidgen of baking powder but stayed true to the original recipe. I did leave the cake in the oven for the whole 45 minutes – I really didn’t want the cake to be soggy and it wasn’t. It isn’t the lightest cake but it works brilliantly with the moist fruit.

how to make an apricot cake

I’ve had an entry already for the cake-a-long but will wait until the round-up to post them all together. If anyone else would like to join in, please feel free. You don’t need a blog, a facebook page or a pinterest account does just fine. If you need any information on how to link up and enter the URL of your photo, please shout!

Our next bake is a chocolate one – it’s been yonks since we did chocolate so we’re going with Rachel Baxter’s Chocolate Orange Disaster Cake on Page 173. The linky will close on Wednesday 2nd October with the next bake being posted on Thurs 3rd October. Happy Baking!

Ombre Ruffle Cake Tutorial

[col3][/col3] ombre ruffle cake

This is the best Ombre Ruffle Cake I’ve ever made – Ok, I’ll be honest – Its the first Ombre Ruffle Cake I’ve ever made. (I need to do a tutorial so I remember it too!)

I’ve had my eye on Ombre cakes for a while. I love that buttercream ruffle cakes are so ‘in’ – much as I love sugarcraft, fondant isn’t always the most appropriate.

My lovely niece, Becky was 18 yesterday and was having a small gathering. I was tempted to do a novelty scene taking into account all her skills and hobbies but thought a slightly trendier, simple-looking cake was maybe more appropriate. What do you think? Should significant birthday cakes always be fondant/sugarpaste?

I say ‘simple-looking’ when I describe making this cake as I think it is quite deceiving. I thought it would be quicker than it was. I have followed various You Tube videos of how to make an Ombre cake and all of them have said have your different colours of buttercream all ready made up.

I didn’t want to be left with loads of buttercream leftover in various shades of pink or even worse, run out of a certain colour half way through and have to try and match some up. I did each colour one at a time then, starting with the darkest colour (bottom).

how to smooth buttercream professionally

My first job, though, was to decide which tool to spread the ball of icing with. I tried my small pallet knife (too pointy & thin), then my spatula’s handle (too wide & clumsy) then came across my 2yo’s princess knife (just right). See? Specialist, expensive tools are not always necessary.

how to make a buttercream ombre cake

To pipe, I cut the disposable piping bag in a straight line – about a 8mm wide hole should be plenty. (I had first covered the cake in a thin layer of buttercream to straighten up the edges and allowed it to harden slightly) I piped one blob side on, so you get a vertical blob, and then flattened and spread one side to the right using the princess knife. It is very important to scrape the knife clean AFTER EVERY BLOB!

The whole Cake!

You soon get in the swing of judging how far apart to pipe each blob. The tricky bit is the last blob of each colour. I always made sure I finished at the same place at the back of the cake of if it wasn’t so neat it didn’t matter so much. I also angled the last blob in to the centre slightly for lack of anywhere else to go really.

Top View

Top View

I have seen some Ombre cakes where 2 or 3 layers/lines are in the same colour. I know this probably makes life a lot simpler and the cake quicker to make but I thought if I’m going to do an ombre cake, I might aswell do it properly and make the colour different every time – why make things easy for myself??

Raspberry & Passion Fruit Yoghurt Birthday Bundt Cake- Clandestine Cake-a-long 9

raspberry passion fruit bundt cake

 

I love that I’m getting so much use out of my Bundt tin – next step is to experiment with wild and wacky ways of decorating my bundt cakes. For the time being, though, this is a bright, interesting cake that is super speedy to decorate and still has oomph!

I sent Dermot to the supermarket with instructions to buy ‘good quality raspberry yoghurt’ as told in the recipe. He arrived back with Yeo Valley Raspberry and Passion Fruit Yoghurt which was just perfect. I loved the addition of passion fruit to the cake although the yoghurt taste was very subtle.

The pink buttercream is delicious – I did meddle slightly by adding 1 tsp vanilla extract to it as I normally do.

I had wafer flowers left over and sugar dots from my Dr Oetker baking day and was really pleased with the finished article. We still have over half of the cake left and it is keeping well.

I was slightly later than expected with this bake as a really unusual phenomenon occured – I was caked out! Yep, I know, I never thought it would happen either. I think it was the combination of 3 weeks in France where plenty of cake goodness was consumed and 4 birthday cakes on arrival at home that rendered me useless. Never fear, normal service has been restored and the Costello kitchen is in full flow once more.

 

There was a problem with last month’s link up for the cake-a-long but happily it didn’t deter our cake-a-long bakers.

Victoria’s bundt has a lovely soft pink buttercream covering and great use of multi coloured stars.

raspberry yoghurt bundt cake I’m going to try to ‘interview’ Rachel McGrath who came up with the raspberry yoghurt cake in the next few days and will publish as soon as poss.

In the meantime, lets get going on another cake – I’ve had a conversation about how gorgeous apricots are at the moment, earlier this week so it seems the right time for us to look at Mike Wallis’ Apricot Cake on page 80. I’ll keep the linky open until Wednesday 18th September 2013. Happy Baking!

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