Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

October 25, 2016 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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pear tart with crunchy almond topping

I do like a good baked pear dessert.   Apples and pumpkins will be around for a long while yet, but pears are more delicate and have a quicker season.  Use ’em while you can!  This Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping has Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough holding a mound of lightly caramelized pears and a topping of sweet and crispy glazed sliced almonds.  Pear-plus-almond is a classic combo, and for good reason– it’s delicious!  I did one thing to my tart that wasn’t in the recipe.  I had a little bit of almond frangipane in the freezer that I’d been looking for a home for.  After blind baking the tart shell, I spread it on in a thin later before piling on the pears and the almond topping.  Not a bad call, if I do say so myself.

This tart is really best the day it’s made.  The topping and the tart shell both go a little soggy after sitting overnight…although that sure didn’t stop us from finishing it!

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart

November 24, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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pear-cranberry roll-up tart

I’ve had my Thanksgiving dessert plotted out for weeks now (predictably, it will be a pumpkin pie), but if I didn’t, I think that this Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart would be making another appearance on Thursday.  Yes, a “roll-up tart”…intriguing, right?  I’ve never made a roll-up tart before.  I imagined forming it would be like making a strudel with pie dough, but actually it was more like rolling up a burrito.

The filling here is made from seasonally appropriate pears– I used Bosc– and cranberries.  I think baked pear desserts are pretty awesome, and the orange and ginger flavorings in this filling really compliment the pears (and the cranberries, too).

The fruit is rolled inside the very same galette dough we used for our Apple Pielettes last month.  I’m big on this dough.  It couldn’t be easier to  handle and it bakes up really flaky (the sanding sugar on top here is a nice sparkly, crispy touch).  Also, it slices cleanly, so you get a good presentation instead of a crumbly mess.  I’ll certainly be trying it out on a regular pie at some point.

pear-cranberry roll-up tart

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

November 11, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, sweet things | 9 Comments
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pear and butterscotch cobbler

I’ve found that a lot of people shy away from making one type of dough or another.  Some people claim, “Oh, I don’t do pie dough,” while others say, “I stay away from yeast.”  When my friends at Quirk Books asked me if I wanted to help celebrate the release of their new book, Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg, of course I jumped at the chance.  Russell writes the gorgeous blog Chasing Delicious, and that guy can bake.  His new book is full of tips and information to make a rainbow of doughs including: scone, biscuit, pie, shortcrust, sweetcrust, choux, brioche, puff, croissant, Danish and phyllo.  Whatever your personal dough demon is, you can work through it with this book.  Russell gives a master dough recipe for each type (which he explains by using easy ratios) and then several recipes using the various doughs.

For me, biscuits were my dough nemesis until a few years ago, when I worked at a bakery and had to crank out trays of breakfast pastries every morning at 6 am.  After all that practice, now I own those suckers!  I was super pleased to give Russell’s biscuit dough a try as part of Quirk’s Biscuit Week Challenge.  I spied a plum cobbler recipe in his book and couldn’t get the thought out of my head– sweet, soft fruit under a tender, cakey, slightly savory biscuit crust.  When I remembered a few Bartlett pears and a bit of homemade butterscotch sauce in the fridge, a light blub went on in my head and I was inspired to make a Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler using up my odds and ends and Russell’s biscuit dough.  He’s even put together a video to show step-by-step how to make perfect biscuits. Because the dough is dropped on the fruit here, instead of rolled and cut, a tender cobbler topping is almost guaranteed, even if you think you’re dough-challenged.

The kind folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of Making Dough,  and now I want to send a copy to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Tuesday, November 17 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you’re chosen.

Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler– serves 4 to 6 
inspired by (and using) a recipe in Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg

Notes: If you don’t already have butterscotch sauce on hand, you can approximate the flavors here with 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp of butter cut into little bits.  Toss with the pears and other filling ingredients.

1 1/2 pounds firm-ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 tbsp rum (optional)
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp homemade butterscotch sauce (I used this one)
1/2 recipe of Russell’s prepared biscuit dough
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1
 tbsp brown sugar

– Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat oven to 400°F.

– Peel and core the pears and cut each into large chunks.  In a medium bowl, gently toss the pear chunks with cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.  Add the rum, if using, and butterscotch sauce and toss just to coat. (Your butterscotch sauce will work best here if it’s room temperature or barley warm.)

– Turn the fruit mixture into a 1-quart baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and keep oven on.

– Pinch off small handful-size clumps (about 2″ in diameter) of the prepared biscuit dough and scatter them on top of the filling so that the clumps touch.  Be careful as your baking dish will be hot!

– Lightly brush the biscuit clumps with melted butter (I dabbed with a pastry brush) and sprinkle with the 1 tbsp brown sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

– Bake for another 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbly.  Cool to warm or room temperature before serving.

Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. Congratulations to Anne!  I’ll be in touch soon.***

Pear Crisp with Oat Streusel Topping and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

November 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Posted in book review, cobbler, crisps, shortcakes, sweet things | 21 Comments

pear crisp with oat streusel topping

I think we’re officially in the thick of it…the season of overindulgence, that is.  For me, it began with a bag of leftover Halloween candy.  Before it ends in a pair of Pajama Jeans, I need to keep moderation at least somewhere in mind.  Seems that a copy of a new book called Cooking Light Way to Bake fell into my hands at just the right time.  I could use a little lightening up for everyday baking at this time of year, and the thing I appreciate about Cooking Light’s recipes is that they focus on getting the most out of a restrained amount “real” ingredients rather than using weird substitutions.

This book has lots of how-to’s and runs the gamut of baked stuff– cookies, cakes pies, breads– and a few non-baked things, like pudding and pancakes, too.  I am absolutely drooling over the photo of Sweet Potato-Buttered Rum Flan, but I’m starting with a pear crisp, because it’s fall and a fruit crisp sounds good right about now.  Baked pears are a nice change from apples here, although I am sure you could switch the two if you wanted to.  I dotted the pears with dried cranberries.  The streusel topping is loose because there’s not a ton of butter and sugar to hold it together in clumps, but it is indeed crisp and very oaty.  I’m sure a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would be the jam here, but in keeping with a lighter touch, I topped this with a spoon of honey-sweetend nonfat Greek yogurt.

So, before I give you the recipe…I promised you a giveaway.  The nice folks at Oxmoor House sent me a copy of this book, and they want to send one of you one, too.  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before noon on Wednesday (November 23) and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!

***Giveaway Winner Update:  I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner.  It selected comment 20, so congratulations to Susy of Everyday Gourmet.  I’ll be contacting you soon!***

Pear Crisp with Oat Streusel Toppingmakes 8 one-cup servings
adapted from Cooking Light Way to Bake by the editors of Cooking Light Magazine

for the fruit:
7 3/4 cups cubed Bartlett or Anjou pears
1 cup golden raisins or other dried fruit
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
cooking spray

for the topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

-Preheat oven to 375°F.

-To prepare the fruit, combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

-To prepare topping, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and dash of salt in a small bowl; stir to combine. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over pear mixture. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until browned on top.

Please note that the publisher, Oxmoor House, sent me a copy of this book.

cooking light book cover

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake

November 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 11 Comments
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upside-down pear chocolate cake

When did weekends become all about errands and housekeeping?  This weekend, in addition to the usual vacuuming, laundry and trips to the market and bank, I did some grout touch-ups to the bathroom (how do I even know how to do that??), removed and cleaned up the couple of A/C units we still had dangling out the windows and did a rather ghetto weatherproofing job to the hatch that leads from our backyard into the basement (it involved a blue tarp and some bricks).  Carving out a little baking time on the weekends is a must.  For me, even though there are always dishes to wash afterward, it’s pure fun.

While I’ve never been one for most fruit and chocolate combos, I can do pears and chocolate together…Poire Belle Hélène is good stuff, afterall.  While I was flipping through the very sweet little book Rustic Fruit Desserts, this recipe for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake caught my eye as a good and unusual way to use up the last of my CSA pears.  Making an upside-down cake is always exciting.  There’s the big revel– what’s going to happen when you turn it out of the pan??  Here’s what I got with this one: a perfectly moist and caramel-soaked chocolate cake with pears that turned a translucent, shimmering gold.  I must say though, that just from tasting the raw cake batter, I knew we were in for a treat.  I love the way the pears glisten in the light…this one might show up again for Christmas dinner.

upside-down pear chocolate cake

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cakemakes a 9-inch cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Steph’s Note:  Regarding the caramel for the fruit topping– if you have another method of making caramel that you prefer (a dry caramel, for example), feel free to use it here, keeping the amount of sugar the same.  This one worked perfectly for me, but do what you are comfortable with.

for the fruit topping:
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 oz) water
3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into  12 slices (1 pound prepped)

for the cake:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa  powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

-Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).

-To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar  dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for  2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of pan,  which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.) Uncover the saucepan and  continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook  the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down  the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, if necessary. Carefully pour  the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very  hot from the sugar, so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear  slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the  center with the remaining slices.

-To make the cake, place  the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring  occasionally. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.  Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and  add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the  paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and  fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each  addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions  alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour  and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

-Tip the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to move it to the edges and cover the fruit. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until  the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife or small offset around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it.  If any pear slices stick to the pan, just lift them out and place them on top of the cake.  Serve the cake warm or room temperature.

-Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup for a Celebration!

October 24, 2010 at 12:14 am | Posted in french fridays with dorie, groups, other stuff, savory things, soups | 20 Comments

spiced squash, fennel & pear soup

Today is a special day for one of my favorite cookbook authors…it’s Dorie Greenspan’s birthday!  Happy birthday, Dorie!  A few TWDers and FFWDers have put together a sort of virtual progressive dinner party, all made from Dorie’s new book, Around my French Table, to celebrate.

I chose to take on a soup course, and made her Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear SoupI’m no stranger to squash soup, and usually I’ll use a butternut, but a crazy lumpy, bumpy golden hubbard caught my eye at the market and wound up coming home with me.  I’ve never made squash soup with the additions of pear and fennel before…they brought a delicious sweetness to the pot.  Don’t forget to toast up your squash seeds as garnish.  This is a great, warming soup that gets even more flavorful the next day.

For the recipe for this delicious soup, see page 80 of Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  Holly from Phe.MOM.enon worked hard to coordinate this party, and will have the whole round-up on her site!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fold-Over Pear Torte

October 12, 2010 at 11:37 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments

fold-over pear torte

Wow…it takes a move to make me realize just how much kitchen crap I have.  Seriously, boxes and boxes of stuff I never touch.  I have an 11-inch square pan that I used once eight years ago!  I have five flats of unopened Ball jars (was I thinking I’d be the next Smucker’s or something??).  A lot of it went into storage when we moved to Sydney four years ago, and it didn’t come out when we moved back. Until now.  My latest project is sorting though it…what to keep handy, what to put in the basement and what to say goodbye to.  Housing Works has already gotten three boxes full!

One thing I’ll never give up is my six-inch springform, which I found just in time to make a half-size of the Fold-Over Pear Torte that Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen chose for TWD this week.  This was the first recipe in a long time where I didn’t know what the heck I was making!  I couldn’t really tell by reading the recipe how it would turn out, and there isn’t a picture in the book for a visual clue. 

After muddling through and crossing my fingers, here it is in a nutshell: fresh pear chunks, nuts and dried fruit are suspended in a rummy custard-like batter, and the whole thing is encased in flaky pie dough.  It’s assembled in a springform for high sides to hold all that fruit and custard.  It may look like a deep dish pizza, but it tastes like pure autumn.  A delicious surprise out of the oven!  

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read Laws of the Kitchen.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart

December 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 37 Comments

rosy poached pear and pistachio tart

I feel like I’ll be dealing with leftover turkey forever, but the holiday bundt is all gone now.  Time to move on to the Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart that Lauren of I’ll Eat You picked for TWD.  I will be honest and admit that making it was a bit more work than I felt like doing after just having prepared Thanksgiving dinner a couple of days before.  You have to make tart dough, pastry cream, poached pears, caramelized nuts and sauce.  That’s a lot of stuff, but the payoff is most definitely worth the effort.  This is a stunningly delicious tart!

Pastry cream-based tarts don’t hold up so well overnight, so I made individual tartlette shells that I could fill with the pistachio pastry cream as needed.  I haven’t had JELL-O pistachio pudding in years, so I’m not sure if I’d love it today as much as I did when I was little, but this pastry cream is spot-on for my tastes now…little flecks of nuts and the color is a far more “natural” green.  I used bosc pears for poaching, and they sucked up all that gorgeous color from the red wine.  BTW, the chilled poaching liquid tastes an awful lot like sweet sangria to me…hmmm…keep me away from the leftovers or I may wind up with a lampshade on my head!

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read I’ll Eat You.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Pear Butterscotch Pie

October 6, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Posted in pies & tarts, sweet things | 29 Comments

pear butterscotch pie

I spent a good portion of today thumbing through some back issues of Gourmet.  I’ve been an on-again, off-again subscriber to the magazine for years.  I let it expire, I miss it and I come back to it.  I took it for granted that I would be able to continue this pattern for years to come, but looks like I was wrong.  And that’s such a shame, because even though there’s so much food-related content out there right now, I could always count on Gourmet to have interesting and topical articals, inspirational recipes and beautiful pictures.

pear butterscotch pie

I told you yesterday that I’d make you something from the pages of Gourmet, so  I leave you with this recipe for a really tasty Pear Butterscotch Pie from the recent September issue.  My husband, who also enjoys a good flip-through of each new issue (and bookmarks requests), pestered me to make it all last month.  The flavors remind me more of apple pie than butterscotch, to tell the truth, but the dark brown sugar and the big chunks of pear are enough to make it a little more unusual.  Spike your whipped cream with a little bourbon, and you’ll add to the butterscotch feel!

pear butterscotch pie

Pear Butterscotch Pie– makes a 9-inch pie
from a recipe in Gourmet (September 2009)

Notes: Pie is best the day it is made but can be baked 1 day ahead.  The leaf cutouts described below are optional, as they are decorative only.

3 T AP flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1/8 t salt
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 pounds firm-ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears (about 5)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t pure vanilla extract
double recipe of flaky pastry dough (
here’s one, or use your favorite)
1 T unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large egg beaten with 1 T warm water
1 T turbinado or granulated sugar

– Put a baking sheet on middle rack of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

– Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, then whisk in brown sugar, breaking up any lumps.  Peel the pears, cut each into 6 wedges, and core.  Gently toss pear chunks with brown sugar mixture, lemon juice, and vanilla and let stand 5 to 15 minutes to macerate fruit.

– Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 13-inch round. Reserve scraps.

– Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang (reserve scraps). Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with some of egg wash, then cut 3 (1-inch-long) vents.

– Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 13-inch round. Reserve scraps.

– Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang (reserve scraps). Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with some of egg wash, then cut 3 (1-inch-long) vents.

– Roll out dough scraps about 1/8 inch thick and cut out leaf shapes with small leaf cutters (or a knife). Arrange decoratively on top of pie, pressing gently to help them adhere. Lightly brush top crust and cutouts with some of egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

– Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Pear Tart

January 4, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 59 Comments

french pear tart 

Guess what — this is my 50th Tuesdays with Dorie post!!  Seems quite appropriate that my TWD golden anniversary be celebrated with a golden dessert, chosen by none other than Dorie Greenspan herself.   Dorie has picked a French Pear Tart for the group to bake this week.

This tart is a classic French dessert.  It has three main components: pears, almond cream (frangipane) and a sweet tart dough (pâte sablée).  Dorie says that it is most acceptable to make this tart using canned pears, but here I used fresh ones, poached in a sugar syrup until deliciously soft and sweet.  Regular pie dough is flaky, but sablée is like a sweet crisp, butter cookie.  (Incidentally, we make a type of sweet tart dough at the bakery where I work.  It is affectionately referred to as “STD”…we are a classy bunch.)  When the almond cream bakes, it puffs up around the pear, becoming almost cake-like.

If you make this and poach your pears, too, please don’t throw out the poaching liquid!  I’ve learned from working in restaurants that there are a million uses for poaching liquid.  It can be made into a granita or turned into sorbet base.  It can be reduced to a thicker syrup, and used in cocktails, over ice cream or to decorate a plate (like I did here).  Or it can simply be used to poach more pears.  You can also add things to the liquid to give additional flavor, like wine, vanilla bean or whole spices.

french pear tart

I made individual tarts, which I assembled and baked off as needed, since I figured a big one would go soggy before we could get through it.  Rather than fanning out cut slices of pear, I just used one of its “cheeks” in each tartlette.  Doesn’t it look a little like a fried egg when viewed from above?  I served the baked tartlettes with a vanilla goat’s milk ice cream from Laloo’s.

For the recipe for this delicious tart, look on Dorie’s blog or in her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours  (she also has a version of  it here on Epicurious).  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll.

So, fifty recipes from BFMHTY…what are my favorites so far?  Honestly, they’ve almost all been winners, but I regularly daydream about Bill’s Big Carrot Cake and Almost-Fudge Gâteau.  What do I hope someone will pick soon?  Every month I keep my fingers crossed that Oatmeal Breakfast Bread, Coconut Tea Cake or any of the Bundts will be on our list.

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