Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread (BBB March 2017)

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Bread Baking Babes March 2017 summary: recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread; adjusting old recipes for today’s tastes; yeast amounts; a Bread Baking Babes project; better late than never….

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) March 2017: Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread

Struan Bread (BBB) Pat (Feeding My Enthusiasms) was doing some spring cleaning and came across a copy of Peter Reinhart’s “Sacramental Magic in a Small Town Cafe | Recipes and Stories from Brother Juniper’s Cafe” published in 1994. In it is the recipe for Reinhart’s then all-time favorite bread: Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread. Struan Bread was a favourite bread in Pat’s household in the 1990s, so she chose it for the BBBabes to make this month.

I can hear you asking the very same thing that I did: “Struan Bread??”

On the eve of the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, also called Michaelmas, a wonderful custom used to take place in western Scotland. Each family member baked breads called Struan Micheil, which were made of all the various grains harvested during the year.
– Peter Reinhart, Brother Juniper’s Bread Book
Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”. […]
In Scotland, St Michael’s Bannock, or Struan Micheil (a large scone-like cake) is also created. This used to be made from cereals grown on the family’s land during the year, representing the fruits of the fields, and is cooked on a lamb skin, representing the fruit of the flocks. The cereals are also moistened with sheeps milk, as sheep are deemed the most sacred of animals.
– Ben Johnson,” class=”offsite”>Historic UK | Michaelmas
[A] Struan-Micheil (“St Michael’s Cake” or Bread) is a type of “bannock” or unleavened bread cooked before the fire on a stone or on a griddle. It is essential to get the ritual and method exactly right, for baking disasters portend all manner of evil falling upon your family in the coming year.
The awesome responsibility of faultless production of the bread falls upon the oldest daughter of your house (or at least some other dependable female). The grains used must be in the proportion of those grown on your land (you probably have barley, oats, and rye) […] to be mixed with an appropriate amount of sheeps’ milk into dough. This preparation is ideally done upon a lamb-skin. The dough is then placed on a “struan-flag” – a large stone which your menfolk brought in from one of yon bonnie banks earlier in the day – and is placed before the fire. During the baking three layers of a batter of cream, eggs, and butter is daubed over the dough to enrich and engolden it.
-Janet Clarkson, The Old Foodie, Michaelmas Eve

Wait a minute! It’s not even close to Michaelmas!! The days are getting longer, not shorter….

Hmmm. We have friends who raise sheep; perhaps they can lend us a lamb skin and sell us some sheep’s milk. …oh wait. I won’t see them until next weekend and the BBB bread is due now. Never mind. Maybe next time….

Here’s how out-of-season lambless and ewe’s-milkless Struan Bread making went:

BBB Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread diary:

3 February 2017, 01:03 This looks like fun! I wonder if it would work okay with cooked white rice. We CAN get brown rice easily but I have a confession to make. I loathe brown rice. It reminds me of cattlefeed. In fact, neither of us are the biggest fans of it.

Still, for the BBBabes, I’ll buy a little. How bad can it be?

10 March 2017, 04:32 I’m beginning to think about making this (look at me being early!), and being the freak that I am, have converted the measurements into weights. (I had trouble with the cinnamon sugar though)

Let’s see now: [click click click]
134 grams sugar
41 grams cinnamon
[134 grams sugar 41 grams cinnamon to make 175 grams in all – I think….]

Cinnamon Sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Not being fans of brown rice at all, I’ll go to the health food store to buy hardly any. …I wonder how much I need to make a half cup of cooked rice. (A quarter of a cup??) AND should I get long or short grain?

27 March 2017, 16:50 Oh oh. It’s well past the 16th now, isn’t it? So much for being early. Alas, life has intruded on my baking schedule.

Well, better late than never, right? We went to the health food store to get brown rice. I thought I was buying 1/4 cup. It turns out it was 1/3 cup of organic brown Basmati rice. Brrrr.

But, because it’s for the BBBabes, I’m willing to set aside my rabid opinions and try out new things. So about 45 minutes ago, I rinsed the rice in water, then added twice as much (in volume) cold water as rice, along with a dash of salt, covered it and brought to a boil. Once it was boiling, I turned off the heat and let it sit for 40 minutes. And tasted it: Cattlefeed. Crunchy cattlefeed swimming in murky warm water. So I brought the whole thing to a boil again and it’s sitting once more.

I’m crossing my fingers that it will be edible enough to use in the dough.

18:07 Yay. That did the trick. The water has all been absorbed and the rice isn’t horrible. In fact, it tastes not bad at all. (I’m not sure that I’d like to replace our standard long grain Jasmine rice with this brown rice but I’m positive that it won’t ruin the bread.)

28 March 2017, 07:54 Since going over the BBB recipe a number of times, I cannot stop worrying away at the rather large amount of yeast it calls for. So I looked for another recipe in the books on our shelf.

Nope. There is no mention of struan in any of them.

So I checked the internet. Of course, there are zillions of hits, most of them alluding to Reinhart’s recipe. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s version involves using a sourdough starter and considerably less instant yeast in the final dough. She also presoaks the grains:

1) Make the soaker
In a small bowl, combine the polenta, oats, and wheat bran and add the water. [C]over and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. (or put in pilot light oven 3 hours)
– Rose Levy Beranbaum, Real Baking With Rose, Struan Bread

After reading Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Struan recipe, I decided she was wise to presoak the big grains. So that is what I’ve just done.

[What the…??? There is construction going on just north of us, and some idiots have decided that now is the time to start slamming the ground with pile drivers. It’s not even 8 yet. The sun is only barely up.]

As I was weighing the cornmeal and rolled oats, I was thinking that I really should be adding millet. But as I’m so late with this bread already, I didn’t want


to take the time to figure out how much less flour to use. Next time. I’ll add millet next time….

I decided to make half the recipe. And it will come as no surprise that I’m also going to reduce the brown sugar drastically (I’m planning to use only 1 Tbsp). And before seeing Beranbaum’s recipe, I was headed towards using the instant yeast amounts with active dry yeast. I can’t stop reeling at the idea of using 4-5% yeast.

4-5%!! Was that a typo in Reinhart’s book? Or was it because it was written in the last century? Even so, I really can’t imagine a Scottish cook being that prodigal with yeast – even if it is for baking a festive bread.

Yes indeed. My Scots ancestry just won’t let me use that much yeast. I like Beranbaum’s measurements better. She calls for 39gm sourdough starter, 6.4gm (2 tsp) instant yeast and 468gm (3c) flour for a baker’s percentage of under 2% yeast. That’s more like it!

09:50 While I was measuring the ingredients for the dough, I suddenly decided to add a little rye flour. It just seemed wrong NOT to include a little rye. And I was a little sorry that I hadn’t substituted millet for the cornmeal.


The dough was insanely dry. So I slopped in a bit more water. I’m not sure how much – maybe as much as 60ml. And it was still ridiculously dry. So I slopped in more water. Again, I have no idea how much but I’m guessing that I may well have added, in total, an extra 200 to 250 ml. The resulting dough is still on the stiff side but it feels pretty good.

13:33 Oh oh. Maybe I shouldn’t have cut back so much on the yeast. The dough hasn’t really moved at all yet.

13:57 Oops! I forgot to add the raisins! I’ll do that now. But I’m NOT going to add that many! What on earth was Reinhart thinking to call for 3 cups of raisins?!

14:27 For half the recipe, I added half a cup (I think it was about 28gm) of Thompson raisins. That seems like plenty.

I’m not sure if it’s my imagination, but I think the dough may actually be rising.

15:29 Things are going pretty slowly. So after seeing Kelly’s note on FB, “If I don’t turn up the heat during the day, it can get down below 65 (18.3C). My rises really slow down unless I turn on the oven to warm the kitchen area.”

Ha! If we’re lucky, the kitchen might go UP from around 15C to 18C during the day in March. So… to see if it will boost things, I just put a bowl of hot water into the oven.

17:30 The stupid thing is barely budging so I’ve put it into the unheated area by the back door to languish there overnight.

It’s good for bread to take ages to rise, isn’t it? :lalala:

22:35 I had to go out tonight and just got back. The dough looks like it is slowly rising – it’s about half-way there. It’s nice and chilly where it is, so it should be fine there until morning.

29 March 2017, 07:49 It’s a miracle! The dough finally doubled in the chilly dark corner by the back door.

I shaped it into two logs and placed them on parchment paper in a square pyrex baking dish, to make two smallish loaves. It just doesn’t seem quite right to use loaf pans for this bread that is based (even if it is very loosely based) on an ancient bread that would undoubtedly have been formed freehand. It’s now covered and in the oven with only the light turned on, along with a bowl of hot water (thank you, Kelly and Pat, for reminding me to do this).

I was thinking about slathering the tops with milk and scattering some poppy seeds overtop, but then I decided that that was going too far. After all, since when has anyone heard of poppies growing in Scotland? Not to mention the following cautionary tale about poppy seeds:

When I was in high school I worked in the Brother Juniper’s bakery and cafe. […] The poppy seeds. The poppy seeds are what give me nightmares.
I have no idea how many pounds of poppy seeds we went through a day, but I know we made as many as 500 loaves of Struan Bread, each one covered with hundreds of poppy seeds. Those seeds would get everywhere: in your hair, under your fingernails, in your clothes, everywhere you can imagine. Even a few places you can’t imagine […] I still avoid poppy seeds most of the time, though I’ll admit they are wonderful on top of this loaf.
– Floyd Mann, The Fresh Loaf | Struan Bread

09:07 Shriek!! I was just typing up the recipe and realized that I didn’t halve the salt! No wonder the dough took so long to rise! :stomp: :stomp: WHAT a dufus I am.

09:13 I went to check on the loaves and see that they’re pretty much ready to bake. The oven is preheating now. (I tasted a tiny piece of dough from the edge to see if it’s horribly salty. It is definitely on the salty side but I’m relieved that it’s not revolting.)

09:34 Just before putting the bread in the oven, I found myself brushing the loaves with milk. I just couldn’t help it….

10:09 We got ovenspring! We got ovenspring!! It’s not quite done yet but it’s beautifully golden on top. So I turned the oven down to 325F and am baking it for 10 minutes more. It smells fantastic!

Struan Bread (BBB) It tastes fantastic too….

Serving it with cheddar cheese and cafe au lait sprinkled with cinnmaon, we each tried one slice as bread and one slice as toast. The bread was delicious; the toasted bread was outstanding!

Luckily, the extra saltiness wasn’t too pervasive. And if the bread tastes this good with too much salt, imagine how great it will be with the correct amount. (I bet it will rise normally too. {c o u g h})

Thank you, Pat! We love this bread!

Here is the BBB March 2017 Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread recipe we were given. And here is what I did to it by making only half the recipe:

BBB Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread
based on a recipe in Peter Reinhart’s “Sacramental Magic in a Small Town Cafe”

makes two loaves


  • 30gm coarsely ground cornmeal (next time I’ll use millet)
  • 23gm rolled oats
  • 10gm wheat bran
  • 140gm boiling water

Actual Dough

  • 480gm (3+1/2 c) high-gluten bread flour
       »15gm vital wheat gluten
       »55gm 100% whole wheat flour
       »400gm unbleached all-purpose flour
       »25gm dark rye flour ²
       »10gm wheat germ ³
  • 14gm (1 Tbsp) brown sugar 4
  • 19gm Kosher salt (Shriek! This is twice too much. It should be only 9gm!!) 6
  • 1/4 c (~28gm) cooked organic brown Basmati rice (next time I’ll use barley)
  • 42gm honey
  • 92gm plain yoghurt (the BBB recipe calls for buttermilk)
  • 10gm (2 tsp) active dry yeast 5
  • 70gm (plus who knows how much more) water at body temperature 7
  • 1/2 c Thompson raisins (the BBB recipe calls for three times more)


  • 1/4 c cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon to 2 parts granulated sugar)
       »2 Tbsp brown sugar
       »1 Tbsp cinnamon


  • milk, optional (the BBB recipe calls for zero milk as the topping)
  • a good shot of melted butter (the BBB recipe calls 26gm (2 Tbsp) melted butter)
  1. soaker: 12 hours or so before you plan to make the bread dough: (I didn’t really plan ahead well at all, so only presoaked for about an hour.) put soaker ingredients into a bowl large enough for the final dough to double. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside on the counter or in the oven with only the light turned on.
  2. dough: Twelve or so hours later (in the morning of the day you plan to bake the bread), dump flours, wheat germ, brown sugar, honey, rice, yoghurt and salt (remember to add half the salt :lalala: if you are halving the recipe) on top of the soaker ingredients. Set aside for a few moments.
  3. Pour body-temperature water (do the baby bottle test on the inside of your wrist to ensure the water is not too hot) into a smallish bowl and whisk in yeast until it has dissolved. Dump the yeasted water over the flours, etc. in the large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix as well as you can. If it seems really really really dry, dribble a little more water onto the dry flour at the bottom of the bowl to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the dry dough. If it still seems dry and difficult to knead, slop in more water and squoosh it in with your hands.
  4. kneading: Using one hand to turn the bowl and the other to dig down to the bottom to lift the dough up to the top, turn, fold, turn, fold, etc. the dough until it is smoothish and no longer looking like porridge. As you knead, resist the temptation to add more flour. You might want to add more water. (Maybe it was because I added too much salt, but this dough was insanely dry.)
  5. Once the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with a plate and allow the dough to rise until almost completely doubled. If your kitchen is normal, put it on the counter in a non-drafty area. If it’s cold, put the dough into the oven with only the light turned on. If it’s really cold, put a bowl filled with hot water into the oven to cosy up to the rising (you hope) dough. Feel free to do a few folds and turns as the dough is rising. Suddenly remember on one of those occasions to knead in the raisins.
  6. When the dough has only just begun to start rising at dinner time, take the covered bowl out of the oven and put it into the cold section by the back door to rise overnight (you hope).
  7. cinnamon sugar: Whisk sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
  8. shaping: The next morning, (hey!!! this was supposed to be a same day bread!) breathe a sigh of relief that the dough has finally doubled. Turn the risen dough out onto a very lightly floured board (just the smallest dusting will be enough). Divide the dough evenly into 2 pieces. Flatten each one out into a rectangle. Slather the tops of each rectangle with cinnamon sugar. Starting at the narrow ends, roll the rectangles tightly to form two logs. Pinch the seam and ends of each one and place them seam side down on parchment in a square pyrex baking dish. Cover with a bowl and put into the oven with only the light turned on to rise to double.
  9. baking: Just before baking, gently brush milk all over tops of the shaped loaves. Be generous. Scatter poppy seeds overtop if you want (I didn’t…). Put the bread on the top shelf of the oven preheated to 350F. (We use the top shelf to prevent bread that has honey or sugar in it from burning on the bottom) Bake for about 30 minutes, turning the pans once to allow for uneven oven heat. After 30 minutes, the bread probably won’t be quite done. Put it back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325F.
  10. Remove from the pan and slather the tops with butter. Then allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating. (The bread is still baking internally when first removed from the oven!) If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

Serve with butter and/or creamy goat cheese…. This bread is also delicious toasted.


1.) soaker The BBB recipe is a straight one-day bread. However, when Rose Levy Beranbaum made it, she suggested pre-soaking the whole grains. So I followed her lead. Next time, I’ll let the whole grains soak overnight. Also, in place of coarsely ground corn meal, I plan to use millet in the future.

2.) rye flour After reading that Struan Micheil is made with grains grown by the farmer, I thought it wise to add some rye flour. Without all that much knowledge of what would grow in Scotland, aside from oats, I decided that rye must have been a staple. Otherwise, how could this song have been written?
Gin a body meet a body, comin thro’ the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body, need a body cry;
Ilka body has a body, ne’er a ane hae I;
-trad./Robert Burns

(Ooooh!! I should have traded the rice for barley, shouldn’t I? After all, how much rice grows in Scotland?!)

3.) Wheat germ After reading “Cooked” by Michael Pollan, and noting that our flour never seems to go bad, I have decided to always add at least a little bit of wheat germ that we now always have on hand in the freezer.

When millers mill wheat, they scrupulously sheer off the most nutritious parts of the seed—the coat of bran and the embryo, or germ, that it protects—and sell that off, retaining the least nourishing part to feed us. In effect, they’re throwing away the best 25 percent of the seed: The vitamins and antioxidants, most of the minerals, and the healthy oils all go to factory farms to feed animals, or to the pharmaceutical industry, which recovers some of hte vitamins from the germ and then sells them back to us—to help remedy nutritional deficiencies created at least in part by white flour. A terrific business model, perhaps, but terrible biology. […]
[M]ills have been expressly designed to produce the whitest possible flour, splitting off the germ and embryo […] To leave the germ in the flour would literally gum up the works, I was told by an experienced miller by the name of Joe Vanderliet. This is why it is always removed at the beginning of the milling process, even when making “whole” wheat flour. […] Vanderliet claims that many large mills, including ones he used to work for, simply leave the germ out of their “whole-grain” flour “because it’s just too much trouble”—a serious charge, but a difficult one to prove.
– Michael Pollan, Thinking like a Seed, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, p576,577, 602,603
In our search for ways to make the home baker’s job easier, we looked for natural equivalents for the dozens of chemicals bakers use, […] In our researching attempts, some of the most interesting information we came across was in old books written for bakers — books published around 1920 […] [O]ne book suggested that adding a tiny amount of wheat germ to your white flour had an improving effect on the dough. The amount suggested was not too different from the amount that occurs naturally in whole wheat flour.
– Laurel Robertson, Some Natural Dough Conditioners, The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, p271
Flour […] Wheat is the most suitable for bread-making, and […] it is interesting to study the structure of the kernel […] [A. The husk. B. The aleurone layer. C. The endosperm] D. The germ, rich in fat and vitamins. […] The germ, which has high food value, is too often removed, as it darkens the flour and lessenes its keeping qualities.
– Winnipeg Public Schools, Flour, Theory and Practice in Household Science (1937), p.16

4.) brown sugar The full BBB recipe calls for “110 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar”. Considering that it also calls for honey, I decided to cut the amount by even more than half. I added just 1 Tbsp instead of a quarter cup for half the recipe.

5.) Yeast The full BBB recipe calls for “48 grams (3 tablespoons) active dry yeast activated in 60 grams (4 tablespoons) lukewarm water (alternately, use 28 grams (2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon) instant yeast, mixed with the dry ingredients)”. Wow, that’s a lot of yeast. Not to mention that it’s entirely unnecessary to use more active dry yeast than instant. Initially, I was going to use the instant amounts. But then after calculating with bakers’ percentage, chose to add 10gm (which is about a tablespoon).

6.) Salt The full BBB recipe calls for “24 grams (4 teaspoons) salt”. I had a brain hemorrage when I was measuring the salt and FORGOT (auugggghhhh!) to halve the amount. I added 19 gm plus a dash in the cooked rice. Next time I’ll add 9gm plus a dash in the cooked rice barley.

7.) Water the full BBB recipe calls for “360 grams (1 1/2 cups) water (be prepared to add more if needed)”. I used boiling water to presoak the whole grains and then body temperature water to rehydrate the active dry yeast (I’m going to assume that you remember what I’ve gone on and on about when saying that you should NEVER use water from the hot water tap…). With the original amount, the dough was insanely stiff. So I added more water. I have no idea how much more… but it was enough to make the dough look like dough. Even after sloshing in at least half a cup of water, it was still quite robust.


Struan Bread (BBB)

Bread Baking Babes Bread Baking Babes: Cinnamon Raisin Struan (March 2017)

Pat, aka Elle, is our host for March 2017’s Bread Baking Babes‘ project. She wrote:

Sometimes doing a end of year clear out of the bookcases brings a surprise. That’s what happened to me. I found a small paperback by Peter Reinhart mixed in with the mysteries, […] a copy of a book he wrote in 1994 called Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe – Recipes and Stories from Brother Juniper’s Cafe. In it he gives the recipe for his (at the time) all time favorite bread – Cinnamon Raisin Struan, which is a variation of Struan bread. […]
– Pat

We know you’ll want to make Cinnamon Raisin Struan too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 March 2017. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ March 2017 bread.


We went for a bike ride this afternoon on this beautiful spring day. And, of course, we stopped to have a picnic. We took chicken sandwiches – I made mine on Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread. The sandwich was delicious!


This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes on by .

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4 responses to “Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread (BBB March 2017)

  1. Elle Lachman

    Glad y’all enjoyed the bread. I like it toasted best, too. Hope the pile drivers have gone home and stay away! Hate that kind of noise. I had to laugh about the poppy seeds on top. I had forgotten that the bread came that way and that, indeed, the tiny seeds went all over the place, so I would find the odd one here or there in the kitchen unexpectedly. Still, the bread was wonderful with the poppy seeded top. Looks like you left of the cinnamon sugar on top as I did, but I love that you did a soaker and that you added some rye. Barley flour and/or millet would be great, too. Might have to bake this again without the raisins and cinnamon and plain Struan bread.

  2. tanna jones

    I don’t think there was such a thing as “yeast” from a store in anyway shape or form back in Ben Johnson’s day. My guess would be the bread was using a natural wild yeast starter. Normally I cut large yeast amounts, I used all of this because there was so much “heavy” in the ingredients.
    No white rice in my house. I’m a big fan of Jasmine brown.
    My dough needed a LOT of extra water. Like you I don’t know how much more I added but it was a little too much so I did a stretch and fold.
    Fabulous research on the Struan and the whole wheat! That really is a sorry story on whole grain isn’t it.
    Always enjoy your write up because I know I’ll get some chuckles! You never disappoint.

  3. Kelly

    Oh phooey and a pox on early morning construction noise! Yes, you definitely must try with cracked millet, I use millet instead of cornmeal since we’re allergic to corn. I love the flavor and crunch. It’s a perfect substitute. I like the idea of doing the grains as a soaker too. I left my dough very sticky because I knew those dry grains would really soak up the moisture. Glad you found it okay with the salt. (I have a story from high school – my mom made two gorgeous loaves of cinnamon swirl bread to give to friends. I was making an orange smoothie and sweetening with a bit of sugar and it came out horribly salty. Twice. Third time I used our little sugar bowl and it was just fine, so I stuck my finger in the big sugar jar, and it was SALTY. Turns out a whole cup of salt had been poured in after being left out from a crab boil and someone didn’t know it wasn’t sugar. Fortunately I told my mom to check the bread and they were inedible. The cows loved them though! It would have been absolutely mortifying if we had given them away!)


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