Author Archives: Lottie

Chocolate valentine cupcakes

Valentine’s Cupcakes – Renshaw Baking Competition

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, time to get thinking about what gifts you are going to buy/make/bake your loved one. Cupcakes make the perfect present so maybe these Valentine’s themed cupcakes will give you some inspiration to make your own! I was recently contacted again by the lovely people at Renshaw Baking who invited me to take part in their Valentine’s Day Baking Competition. Last year I took part in the Royal Baby Competition and made this ‘From Cradle to Crown Cake‘, so I was ready for another competition! The challenge was to ask a loved one to bake something special for Valentine’s Day using Renshaw Baking products we were sent. I asked my lovely sister Rose, who jumped at the opportunity to test out some icing and make some cupcakes! I’m sure you will agree that what she came up with is fabulous! She couldn’t decide which products to use so she went for several of them and came up with three different Valentine’s cupcakes.

So here we have it – Valentine’s Cupcakes for the Renshaw Baking Competition made by my lovely sister Rose!

Valentine's Cupcakes

To make the vanilla cupcakes :

6oz self raising flour
6oz caster sugar
6oz unsalted butter or margarine
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

These are really easy to make, just put all the ingredients in one bowl and use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients together. Spoon out into 12 cupcake cases and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes. Then it is time to ice and decorate!

These first cupcakes are my favourite, they are iced with the Renshaw Baking snip and swirl milk chocolate flavour icing. It is a lovely chocolate fudge flavour and texutre. They are decorated with Renshaw mini chocolate beans, hearts made from Renshaw ready to roll red icing and finished with a sprinkling of edible glitter.

Chocolate valentine cupcakes

These next ones are iced with a delicious Renshaw snip and swirl strawberry flavour icing, decorated with Renshaw Pink and white pearls and finished with a foil wrapped chocolate heart. Beautiful!

Strawberry Valentine's Cupcakes

Finally we have these ones decorated beautifully with a rose. These are iced with Renshaw snip and swirl vanilla icing, decorated with dots of red icing and finished with a handmade rose made from Renshaw ready to roll icing.

Vanilla cupcakes

Here are the beautifully iced cupcakes and the decorations she used.

Iced cupcakes

Renshaw

I hope you agree with me that she has done a fantastic job! Here she is with her cupcake creations:

Rosie and her cupcakes

Happy Valentine’s Baking!

Lottie xx

Thanks to Renshaw Baking for sending the icing and decorations.

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Lavender and Honey Macarons

Lavender and Honey Macarons

Lavender and Honey Macarons

My favourite place to go at the moment has to be Mayfield Lavender in Surrey. It is just gorgeous. A huge field of purple that smells divine, just driving past it everyone turns their heads. If you haven’t stopped to have a walk through the rows and rows of lavender yet then make sure you do, you won’t want to leave and I’m sure you will be back. I can’t keep away, whether I’m just admiring the beauty of the purple plants, having a walk through the planted rows, buying bunches of lavender to make my flat smell just as wonderful as the field, doing aPilates class under a tree in the field, taking photo upon photo of the lavender or sipping a refreshing glass of delicious Lavender Lemonade. In fact I think I am due another trip there! Lavender is also a wonderful ingredient to add to your baking, a lovely light floral taste. I paired the lavender with honey to make these lovely Lavender and Honey macarons. I used Surrey Honey, a delicious local honey. The macaron shells are flavoured with the dried lavender buds on the top, this is all you need to flavour them with lavender, any more and it would be too much and I used the honey in the buttercream. The result, Lavender and Honey Macarons. I’ve also included some photos from the Lavender field at the end of this post, so scroll down to see the beautiful Mayfield Lavender.

Lavender and Honey Macarons

To make these lavender macarons you will need (makes approx 20):

175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large eggs (whites only)
75g caster sugar
purple food colouring (gel or paste, not liquid)
dried lavender buds
pinch of salt

To make the honey buttercream you will need:

150g icing sugar (sifted)
75g unsalted butter
2tsp runny honey

 Time to eat

Start by preparing a tray for the macaron shells (unless you have a macaron mat!). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Under this I slide a sheet of paper printed with 3.5cm circles, this means I can create equally sized macarons and just slide the paper out before baking. Now make the shells. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds into a bowl, pushing the almonds through the sieve so they are fine. If you have a food processor then give them a blitz in that. In another bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a little at a time and whisk, the egg whites should turn thick and glossy. Add the food colouring, a little goes a long way. You have to add the colour before adding the dry ingredients because you don’t want to risk overmixing at that stage.

 A thick and glossy consistency

Once you have achieved your desired colour add half of the icing sugar and ground almonds and fold in using a spatula. Add the rest of the icing sugar and almonds and fold in.  Don’t over mix it, you want the mixture to fall like ribbons from the spatula, not for it to be too liquid. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, either fitted with a 1cm nozzle or with the end of the bag snipped off. Pipe small circles of mixture onto your prepared baking tray, using the printed circles as a guide. Remove the printed paper once finished. Lift the tray off the surface and drop back down from about a 15cm height 2-3 times, this helps the macarons have a good foot. Sprinkle the top of each macaron shell with a few dried lavender buds.

 Sprinkeld with Lavender

Leave the macarons at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes to form a skin. You should be able to lightly touch them without the mixture sticking to your finger. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 15 minutes and leave to cool on the tray. Now make the honey buttercream. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth, add the honey and beat well. Once the macaron shells are completely cool fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe a circle of buttercream onto the bottom of half of the macarons. Sandwich them together and they are ready to enjoy!

 Lots of Macarons

And now for some photos of the beautiful Mayfield Lavender fields:

 Mayfield Lavender Fields

 Lavender

 Making Honey

 Friends in the Lavender Field

Lottie xx

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Christmas Cupcakes!

Christmas Cupcakes!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

There is something just so magical about Christmas, everything is so exciting and there is so much going on! I am away for Christmas this year and will actually be on a plane so I am determined to make the most of everything Christmassy before I go. We may not be here on Christmas Day but the Christmas Tree is still up in our flat, decorated with red and gold glittery baubles, glittery little birds and traditional white lights. When the Christmas tree goes up that means that Christmas really is here! I made some of my own decorations too this year and have given them to people as presents. I dried oranges (which made the kitchen smell delightful), then threaded them with cranberries and cinnamon sticks to make decorations! And of course I have been doing some Christmas baking, mince pies and even Panettone this year. These though are my Christmas cupcakes for this year, they have a variety of decorations, the snowflake ones being similar to my Winter Cupcakes from last year. These cakes were made to sell at ELOCs performances of Jingle Belles where I was working behind the bar and selling lots of mulled wine!

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I made half of them vanilla and half of the chocolate cupcakes. I topped the vanilla cupcakes with either the festive red sparkly icing or with the fondant icing present design. I topped the chocolate cupcakes with either chocolate icing and holly or blue icing and snowflakes. All of them were finished off with a touch of edible silk shimmer dust.

To make the vanilla cupcakes:

6oz golden caster sugar
6oz butter or margarine
3 large eggs
6oz self raising flour
splash of milk
1tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Fold the flour into the mixture with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Add a splash of milk and the vanilla and mix in. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes.

To make the chocolate cupcakes I used the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book which gives lovely, moist cupcakes. You can see the recipe here where I used it for my Black Forest Cupcakes.

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To make the frosting:

Beat 250g softened unsalted butter together with 500g seived icing sugar. Add 2 tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla essence. Beat until smooth and creamy. To make the chocolate icing add seived cocoa powder to the frosting.

The cupcake toppers were made out of rolled fondant icing using holly and snowflake cutters.

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I rolled a pattern onto my present toppers using a textured rolling pin like this, I love the effect!

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Merry Christmas everybody!

Lottie xx

I am entering these into Calendar Cakes hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes.

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Paul Hollywood’s Plaited Loaf

Paul Hollywood’s Plaited Loaf

There is something extremely satisfying about making bread and it always feels like such an acheivement afterwards. I have to say, making sourdough bread from scratch and making my own starter was a very proud moment for me but at the same time even a simple white loaf gives me a sense of satisfaction. And the smell of baking bread….well it is delicious. I think part of the reason it is so satisfying is that you really have to set aside some time to make bread, it can’t be done in a rush, unless you have a breadmaker that is. You have to really put some work into making bread, some tender loving care shall we say. After all my recent birthday cake baking, I have to say I really did miss baking bread, so when I had a few spare moments to bake some this week, I grabbed the chance. Also it was Homemade Bread Day on 17th November, a perfect time to get bread baking again!

I still have a huuuge long list of things from the last Bake Off that I want to make…chiffon cake, strudel, doughnuts, the list goes on. On my list was also the amazing 8 strand plaited loaves they made on the show, I’m always up for a challenge and when I saw them make these I wanted a go. So here it is…Paul Hollywood’s Plaited Loaf from the book ‘The Great British Bake Off – How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers‘.

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There seemed to be a lot of trouble with the plaiting on the show but I found that if you follow the instructions exactly how they are written then you shouldn’t have a problem with it….next time I might try 8 strand plaiting my hair!

You will need:

500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
14g fast action dried yeast
20ml olive oil
340ml water at room temperature
1 beaten egg with a pinch of salt (to glaze)

To make the dough put the flour in a mixing bowl, then add the salt on one side of the bowel and add the yeast to the other. These are instructions given by Paul Hollywood and are a way of making sure the two don’t touch each other as the salt can kill the yeast.

Next add the oil and mix in. Add three quarters of the water and use your hands to combine the ingredients. Add the rest of the water and work it into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is stretchy. This is the fun, messy bit, but also pretty hard work!

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave it to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature, it should double in size.

Knock back the dough and turn onto a floured surface. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and roll each peace into a long 40cm strand. Lay the strands out on the work surface, gathering the ends together. Now you are ready to GET PLAITING!

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Follow the instructions, it will work, even though it seems a little odd at first. Number the strands, the strand furthest left is number 1, the strand furthest right is number 8, when you move the strands the numbers change and you start from 1 to 8, left to right again.

1. Strand 8 under strand 7, then over strand 1.

2. Strand 8 over strand 5.

3. Strand 2 under strand 3, then over strand 8.

4. Strand 1 over strand 4.

5. Strand 7 under strand 6, then over strand 1.

You only do step 1 once, right at the beginning. Keep repeating steps 2 to 5 until the plait is finished. Finish the ends off neatly.

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Leave the plait to rise on a floured baking sheet. Leave it for 1 hour at room temperature. After an hour you can brush the loaf with the beaten egg, then bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 20-25 minutes. It should be golden brown and should sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Serve with butter and jam and enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread. Delicious!

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Lottie xx

I am entering this loaf into the Fresh From the Oven challenge, the theme this month is a plaited loaf and it is hosted by Fuss Free Flavours. This challenge is ran by Claire and Michelle fromPurely Food and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

I am also entering this into Calendar Cakes, because of Homemade Bread Day this month the theme is Bread, Rolls and Buns! This is hosted by LauraLovesCakes and Dollybakes.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

October has been a month full of birthdays and for me this has meant a month of baking lots and lots of cakes and lots of present buying! It was has also been the month for the ‘Half a Sixpence’ show week, which was a very busy week and lots of fun doing a fabulous show. It has also been the month for the final of GBBO, and what a show, well done John! And now, with October coming to an end….begins the run up to Christmas! Well, with Halloween, Fireworks Night and a couple more birthdays along the way!

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This Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake was one of this month’s birthday cakes. My boyfriend and his mother share the same birthday, this is the cake I made for them and it is a beauty of cake. The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery’s book ‘Cake Days‘, a beautiful book in which I have many recipes bookmarked for making. This was one of them. In the book it is called ‘Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake’ and however strange that may sound it really does work. The recipe involves a lot of ingredients and does take time to make but the end result is a huge, impressive and gorgeous cake. The cake itself is lovely, chocolately and moist and the frosting is a delicious mix of chocolate and caramel. There is however quite an obscene amount of butter and cream used in this recipe, it is rather indulgent. The saltiness of the cake is only from the caramel and is just the right amount. The caramel is used in between the 3 layers and I also used it on the top of the cake. This cake will feed lots of people!

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For the cake you will need:

300g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
140g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
100g cocoa powder
160ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence
330g  plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt

Start by beating together the butter and the sugars. Add the eggs next one at a time, incorporating all the mixture together.

In a jug mix the buttermilk, cocoa and vanilla essence with 60ml of water to form a thick paste. In another bowl sift together the dry sponge ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt).

Alternately add the chocolate paste and the flour to the cake mixture a little bit at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Divide the cake mix between 3 greased and lined cake tins. I found this was about 500g in each tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for about 25 minutes. When they are done leave them to cool in the tins for a while before turning out on to wire racks to fully cool.

To make the salted caramel:

200g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
120ml double cream
60ml soured cream
1 tsp fine sea salt

In a small saucepan bring the sugar and golden syrup to boil along with 60ml water. Leave it to boil for about 10 minutes, it should change to a caramel colour. In a separate pan bring the double cream, soured cream and salt to the boil. Remove from the heat. When they are both done carefully add the hot cream to the sugar syrup. I loved this bit because it all bubbles up as you pour the cream in and looks great. It does smooth out again afterwards and will be creamy and golden. Set aside to cool.

To make the frosting:

200g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
360 ml double cream
450g dark chocolate (chopped)
450g unsalted butter

Start as you did with the salty caramel by bringing the caster sugar and golden syrup to the boil with 60ml water. Again leave it for 10 minutes to boil. In another pan bring the double cream to the boil and then pour into the caramel as before. Set aside to cool.

Once slightly cooled add the chocolate, stirring until it melts. Use an electric whisk to beat the frosting for about 10 minutes. Next add the butter (should be softened) to the frosting and whisk until it is slightly whipped. Leave to cool in the fridge.

Now it is time to put the cake together!

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Cover the first layer of sponge with about 2 tablespoons of caramel, top this with caramel frosting. Add another layer of sponge and do the same. Coat the sides and the top of the cake with the frosting, drizzle the top with the remaining caramel and crumble chocolate over the top. Tada! Finished and time to enjoy!

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Don’t forget that until the end of the month you can still enter the Bake Off Challenge for all of those bakes inspired by the Great British Bake Off. Entry instructions are here and here you can find the most recent round up of entries! Get your entries in soon!

Happy October everybody.

Lottie xx

I am entering this into November’s Tea Time Treats, the theme is cake! It is hosted byLavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

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Half a Sixpence Cake!

Half a Sixpence Cake!

 This month I am performing in Half a Sixpence with my local amateur dramatic company (Nic from Nic’s Feasts and Treats is also in the show!). The company is called Epsom Light Opera Company, they stage 2 shows a year at the Epsom Playhouse and have an excellent reputation for putting on high quality, award winning shows. The next show is Half a Sixpence, a story set in Folkestone in the early 1900s. It follows the story of Kipps (played by Tommy Steele in the film) who gives his childhood sweetheart Ann half sixpence. The story tells of how Kipps falls in love with Ann, gains a fortune and enters High Society, falls in love with Helen Walsingham and gets engaged before realising he doesn’t like his high society life and that it is Ann he really loves. There are some great songs including ‘Flash Bang Wallop’, ‘Half a Sixpence‘ and ‘Money to Burn’, lots of dancing and plenty of laughs. It is looking to be a fantastic show. Last rehearsal I took along a Half a Sixpence Cake that I made for the cast!

 

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Half a Sixpence is on at Epsom Playhouse from 9th to 13th October. If you live in London/Surrey and aren’t too far from Epsom and like musicals then I can thoroughly recommend it! Tickets can be bought from the company box office or online from the Epsom Playhouse. I play the part of Flo, one of the shop girls. You can see a video with some bits from our rehearsals here:

Now back to the cake! The idea was to turn the flyer into a cake. The cake is a Victoria Sponge, filled with jam and buttercream.

To make the cake:

10oz butter or margarine
10oz caster sugar
10oz self raising flour
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture, add the vanilla  too. Fold the flour into the mix using a spatula. Pour the cake mixture into a greased and lined tin and bake at 180C. The cake is done when it is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

To make the buttercream (filling and decorating):

300g unsalted butter
600g icing sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

Beat the butter to soften it. Sieve the icing sugar into the bowl and start to fold it into the butter using a spoon. Once it has started to combine use an electric whisk to beat it. Add the vanilla and milk.

To make the hat and sixpence I used fondant icing that I coloured with food colour paste. The writing is done with royal icing. To make the ruffles on the side of the cake I used a Wilton 104 petal nozzle. You can see the ruffle effect you can create better here on my chocolate cake with pink ruffle icing.

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Don’t forget to get your entries in for the next Bake Off Challenge round up! Deadline is 5th October!

Lottie xx

I am entering this into November’s Tea Time Treats, the theme is cake! This is hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

December 1st and day 1 of the advent calendar. Opening mine this morning did put a big smile on my face, especially when I opened door 1 to find a lovely little Lindt reindeer waiting for me. And yes, I ate it for breakfast. Who actually saves their advent chocolate to a more appropriate time of day? However this year my advent calender is extra special, because not only does it mean the countdown to Christmas but also the countdown to Australia! Yay! I can’t wait, I think that this year December is going to have to be a combination of both Christmas bakes and Australian bakes to celebrate both things. I have baked Lamington’s in the past but haven’t done much Australian baking, so if anybody has any ideas then please do let me know! Today I have quite a simple but delicious recipe for you, for those times when you want to whip something up quickly with ingredients that are in your cupboard. Well these are perfect for that, perfect to serve on a tray with a cup of tea, whipped up last minute when you find out you have guests coming round. Peanut butter cookies, small, crumbly, easy and tasty.

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You will need:

200g plain flour
60g caster sugar
4tbsp peanut butter
2 egg yolks
100g softened butter

Place all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix together to form a dough. Form small balls of the dough using your hands and squash them slightly onto a lined baking sheet. Press each ball down with a fork to get the markings and flatten it a bit. You should be able to get about 16 cookies from this recipe. Put the baking tray in a preheated oven at 180C and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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Dust with a bit of icing sugar if you like to finish them off and serve. Simple and delicious! I think they would be nice with chocolate chips in too or perhaps half dipped in chocolate….I might try that next time!

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Lottie xx

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Fondant Rose Cupcakes

Fondant Rose Cupcakes

Halloween this year just seemed to pass me by, I sadly didn’t even get round to baking anything pumpkin themed. Last year was the first time I made a pumpkin pie and I think it will have to be done again soon. In fact I only really registered it was Halloween when I was having dinner in Croydon on Wednesday and the Grim Reaper glided past on rollerskates with a sign saying ‘Free Hugs Or Else’! So instead of some Halloween baking I have something much prettier to post about. Last time I posted I wrote about the Rose Cake I made but because my sister managed to spread out her birthday so long, the week after I got another chance to make a rose themed cake. Yay! This time we have Rose Cupcakes and I decided to try my hand at some sugarcraft, something I hadn’t done before. It was rather therapeutic though really, I spent an evening learning to make and making lots of little fondant roses! This is the video I used to learn how to make them. I used a Renshaw Ready to Roll icing which is a lovely bright pink, I was quite pleased with the result. The cupcakes themselves are simple vanilla cupcakes and they are iced with runny fondant icing. I finished them off with a sprinkle of Rainbow Dust Edible Silk, which meant that when she blew the candles out the air was full of glitter!

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To make the cupcakes:

6oz butter or margarine
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well, add the vanilla extract. Add the flour and fold in with a spatula until it is all combined. Spoon into cupcake cases but don’t fill them too much, you want to have a nice flat top to your cupcakes when you ice them. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 20 minutes and leave to cool before icing.

To ice the cupcakes make up some icing with a couple of drops of rose water. You can use standard icing sugar or fondant icing sugar for a fudgier texture. Spoon the icing onto the cooled cupcakes and leave the icing to level out and create a flat surface. Ice the cupcakes right to the top of the case.

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Add your Roses and sprinkle of glitter and they are done!

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Lottie xx

I am entering this into Tea Time Treats. The theme this month is CAKE! It is hosted byLavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

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