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Do-It-Yourself Experiment: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Hundreds of you have raved about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I bought the book months ago, read it in Spring, and have since been trying out making the bread recipes.

The concept is simple: you take a few minutes to mix up some ingredients. You don’t knead the bread and instead let it rest for at least a few hours and then you can refrigerate it for up to two weeks to have fresh Artisan Bread with less than five minutes’ worth of work at any given time.

Truthfully, I was confused over the directions when I read the book the first time. I read and re-read the first chapter to figure out exactly what I was supposed to do with the dough once I made it.

I finally came across Mandy’s video (above) on how to make artisan bread and it all became much more clear. {Yes, I’m a visual learner if there ever was one!}

The bread was extremely easy to make, just like you all have been telling me. However, the first batch was way, way too salty. I followed the directions carefully and was quite disappointed in how it turned out. {Edit: I did use table salt instead of kosher salt the first time around and I’m guessing that could have been much of the issue.}

It looked beautiful, but it tasted gross. So gross, in fact, that I threw out the baked bread and the rest of the dough. And I was rather discouraged about the whole thing. This bread was supposed to revolutionize my baking. Instead, I threw it out. Um, that’s not exactly what I was envisioning with this recipe.

But then I read online where someone suggested cutting the salt in half. I did that and it was a lot better.

(Note: I didn’t use a baking stone (I don’t have one) or the steam method on these loaves. I think that’s why they look undercooked, even though I baked them the full amount of time. I’m going to keep experimenting and am hoping I can land on the perfect amazing bread you all keep talking about!)

I have yet to dub Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as the next best thing to sliced bread and I won’t be making it exclusively as I have a number of other bread recipes I really love, but I think the concept is fascinating, the bread is undeniably easy to make, and it’s definitely a recipe I’ll be adding to our regular bread recipes line-up.

Have you tried the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Recipe? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! (And feel feel to chime in on suggestions for me on what I’m doing wrong and how I can improve! I really want to make the beautiful loaves that the book pictures!)

Coming up tomorrow: My Homemade Detangler experiment.

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192 Comments

  • Carrie says:

    I have only made 5 min bread once with GREAT sucess. I would strongly suggest buying a cheap pizza stone, you will find lots of uses for it and it does really help. For the steaming I just use a metal baking pan and cover it will foil and cut a few slits in it. The steam is what gives you the crusty exterior and and soft center.
    I have been known to spend to much money buying crusty bread and will never have to do this again.
    I even added some roasted garlic cloves to the bread dough on baking day and it was great.

  • Stephanie says:

    The baking stone and the steam make the difference- I use the metal broiling tray that came with our oven. My three year old refuses to eat store bought bread now and
    the whole what dough makes terrific pizza dough.

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    Something no one has mentioned but might make a difference too is this: Do you have a thermometer in your oven to check the temperature? Our oven, even when new, runs about 5 degrees cooler than the “programmed” temperature. That means everything took longer to cook – and we were getting frustrated. My mom purchased an in-oven thermomemter for us (it clips onto one of the racks) – ah, ha! – now we just set the temp five degrees higher than suggested and we’re just fine.

    This is particularly important if you have an older oven – the one my parents inherited with their most recent house purchase would heat to 250F and then stay there until you set the temp over 400F. Anything that cooked between 250F and 400F had to be adjusted. And, yes, they did buy a new oven not too long after they found this out. Most ovens aren’t that bad, but many have “hot” and “cold” spots and variations in temperature.

    I’ve loved reading all the comments – I had read the reveiws on this since we make all our own bread and I was looking to streamline. It seems that people either love or hate this method and now inbetween. Now I’m seeing way. Might check the book out of the library and give it a whirl after reading the suggestions here!

    Thanks for sharing Crystal!
    Lea

  • Do you have a Dutch oven? Because I always cook mine in one (and take the lid off for the last 15-20 minutes), and it gives a swoon-worthy crust and crumb! I tried my bread on baking sheets for the first few times and I was underwhelmed. Also I try to let it cool for at least 20 minutes before I cut into it—hard, I know!

    • Melanie says:

      I second the letting it cool for a while idea. It is so much easier to cut and the crumb is set perfectly when it is cool. Seemed weird to me at first, but it turns out better when it’s cooled.

  • Christine says:

    I don’t have a pizza stone, and the bread turns out just fine for me. I have found that the steam method makes all the difference in producing a crispy, delicious loaf.

  • Oh, I forgot to say that when I add the salt I add equal amounts of sugar and oil—it softens up the crust a little and balances the flavor. That’s our house version!

    Oh, and preheat the Dutch oven and lid along with the oven.

  • Lisa says:

    I’ve checked the book out twice, asked for a received a cast iron Dutch oven for some recipes, but haven’t yet made the bread. I have TASTED several batches others have made and liked it. I usually only bake Spinach Focaccia bread using the old Frugal Gourmet recipe. I’ll keep in mind the salt thing when I do try it.

  • Emily says:

    I have the book too and reviewed it and my first try here: http://flawedyetfunctional.com/my-kitchen/homemade-bread/.

    The salt is tricky. I’ve been reading two books that discuss salt, so I’m not sure which one I read it in, Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day or Ruhlman’s Twenty, but the courseness of the salt makes a huge difference in the outcome of the recipe. Table salt is very fine in comparison to the kosher salt the recipe calls for, so I’m sure you ended up with way more salt than the writer intended. You will get a more consistent result if you weighed the salt rather than using a volume measure. I know…way more work!

    I also think the stone and steam are key. My loaves look almost as good as the books. 🙂

    I’d recommend trying a different type of salt or just reducing it as you suggested.

    Good luck!

  • Melanie says:

    I make this ALL the time. I just follow the Master Recipe exactly — no kneading or anything like that. I do use a stone and the steam is essential. It is our FAVORITE bread recipe right now. Keep trying! 🙂

  • Kim N. says:

    This bread looks wonderful and I really want to try it BUT I live at 8500 ft! Anyone tried this at a high altitude? Any tips?

  • teresa says:

    crystal, thanks for your post. i’ve read thru all of the comments and look forward to trying this bread myself. your readers have shared a wealth of tips!

  • becky says:

    I’m pretty sure the steam more than the stone is impacting the crust of your bread. I do remember Alton Brown mocking pizza stones–pointing out other ways to make a homemade “stone” you could look into. FYI, because the level of moisture will vary (with the humidity and the size lump you grab, the baking time will vary, so don’t be afraid to let it go longer if you think it needs it.

  • Heather from Ohio says:

    I love love love this book and bread making method. I make mine in the food processor always. No stirring for me! I also only use kosher salt and it is vital that you bake with the steam method. I don’t use a baking stone, just a boring old half sheet pan with the bowl of water on the rack below it. You can do it! It is worth it! 🙂

  • Mary says:

    Love this bread! We just graduated to the second book (the healthy artisan bread) and I just took a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread out of the oven. I ground the wheat berries and the bread is incredible. It’s a bit dense but the flavor is so good.

    I use the full amount of kosher salt in every recipe I tried and it’s not too salty. Someone may have mentioned it but you don’t get as much salt in each spoon when it’s kosher because the crystals are so much larger. It leaves more “air space” between each one.

    I love that the authors have made this such an easy, economical way for me to improve my family’s nutrition. They love that it’s so delicious.

  • Rachael says:

    Has anyone tried this with a pizza stone instead of a bread stone? Crystal, you might really like to invest in a pizza stone since you make homemade pizza so much. Mine is from Pampered Chef and I really like it.

  • Bonnie says:

    . . . I wanted to chime in here & let you know that many Pampered Chef consultant are doing a similar bread, but in our Deep Covered Baker and it comes out WONDERFUL> (going to mix up a batch now!) here is the recipe & comments people have made about variations, we have been using:
    4 hour Artesian Bread
    3 cups ‘Bread’ flour, more for dusting
    (can use 1 cup wheat bread flour and 2 cups white bread flour)
    1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast granules
    1 ½ Tablespoons sugar [I have seen some omit in their recipes]
    1 ½ teaspoons salt (prefer kosher salt, less sodium)
    1 ½ cups warm tap water
    1 ½ Tablespoons of olive oil or any combination of flavor infused oils
    2 tablespoons of any dried seasonings, herbs or rubs (optional)
    1. In large 4 qt Stainless Steel mixing bowl or large Batter Bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar & salt. Add 1 ½ cups warm water & oil mixture, stirring until blended; dough will be shaggy & sticky. Cover bowl with lid/plastic. Let dough rest about 2 hours at most, at room temp. (dough will have almost doubled)
    2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted w/bubbles. Liberally flour a Pastry Mat (or parchment paper) using Flour/Sugar Shaker & place dough on it; sprinkle it w/little more flour & fold dough over itself 3 or4 times/shape loaf. Fold sides of Pastry Mat over bread & let rest 1 ½ – 2 hours to rise.
    3. 1 ½ hrs into 2 hr rising time, preheat oven to 425/450°. (some have been place empty Covered Baker w/lid on in oven for 20 min – but it is not recommended!) Dump floured dough into Covered Baker, put lid on & into oven. Bake 30 min, take lid off & bake another 5-10 min, if need to brown top; cool on Stackable Cooling Rack. *bread only costs about 50 cents to make & 4 minutes of your time! >>>can use floured parchment paper & fold dough over itself a few times, I wrapped in parchment & put back in bowl using to rise. >>>I like this recipe better than 1 I listed; have heard put baker-or any stoneware in oven to preheat voids warranty! I took step further: after the 1st rise, flatten dough, shape into loaf & put in baker for 2nd rise; crust isn’t as crunchy, but man, is it good!
    >>>I love this & made it 3x already; personally think this is 1 of those recipes that you have to feel out. I don’t use parchment paper, but do spray my DCB; also DO NOT preheat stone in oven either! It’s really delicious w/1 of bread dipping oil seasonings in it – I’ve done Sundried Tomato & Herb and Spinach w/Smoky Red Pepper. 🙂
    >>>I have added shredded cheese & seasoning when mixing it – delious!
    >>>buy 50lb bag bread flour & yeast in bulk at Costco or SAM’S Club ( keep most of the yeast frozen or refrigerated until needed), this bread costs about 30cents a loaf & takes about 4 min of your time!
    [covered baker keeps moisture in so texture is awesome!]
    Enjoy, Bonnie >:0)

    • Rebecca says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I love everything Pampered Chef and will be trying out this artisan bread recipe in my Deep Covered Baker.

  • Jackie says:

    I’ve been making this bread for since the book came out and teach classes how to make bread using this method. I’ve been successful by tweaking a few ingredients using Eagle Mills, or half unbleached all-purpose and half white whole wheat flour like King Arthur or I use 100% white whole wheat w/ a little water tweaking and add vital gluten when I use this. I’ve made the naan for our local news here,http://momonamission.me/?p=3772 which I make once a month as a staple. I also make overnight cinnamon rolls here, http://cookandplay.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/cinnamon-rolls-made-from-aristan-dough/, I would keep at it, because it has changed the way I bake and freeze. I always bake four loaves at once and 3 pans of cinnamon rolls at once and freeze The recipe makes 13 naan to freeze. I also use a shoe box instead of the plastic mixing tub they suggest. Here is a 101 post I’ve done, http://momonamission.me/?p=1025
    I like the recipe with 1/2 cup canola oil the best and I don’t use a stone or steam. We like ours soft. You’ll find it on the links. You’re doing fantastic, keep up the great work!

  • I read this book, both of them actually, last year, and was completely terrified to try it!! It sounded soooo complicated.
    Y’all’s comments have made me think that maybe I can do this. I have NEVER made homemade bread before. I think I might be getting my courage up to check this book out of the library again.

  • Lisa says:

    I have been making this bread for years and the key is the baking stone and the steam. It turns out wonderful every time! I love to add herbs and spices and parmesean cheese to flavor this delicious recipe! I hope you persevere–it is well worth it!
    Blessings,
    Lisa

  • Angie says:

    I just came accross this blog today and was surprised to see this post because I’ve been using this book for over a year. I’ve made at least a third of the recipes and nearly everyone has come out great. I always use table salt, not kosher, and the full amount. I follow the directions pretty much right on, using a stone, the steam, and pre-heating. Never had a problem with the bread coming out salty or under-cooked. We make calzones with it a lot.

  • Whitney says:

    I don’t use a stone – I use a silpat mat and toss that with the dough onto a preheated cookie sheet. That also saves me the step of putting down cornmeal or flour and does not affect the final product (except there’s no layer of crunchy cornmeal on the bottom, of course). I’ve used a stone but have never seen a difference.

    The steam is NOT NOT NOT optional!!! I can’t stress this enough. In fact, I’m pretty sure that nowhere in the book does it say you can skip that step. It’s like deciding to leave a key ingredient out of cake and then complaining about the results.

    I thought the book was also very clear that the salt measurements were for kosher, not table salt.

  • I have the books….and have been looking to try this. I love the shoebox idea, should take less rome in the fridge!

  • Lacey Wilcox says:

    Ok…I’ll confess that I haven’t read through every single comment, but I’m super inspired to try this once I finish the book.

    This question might have been answered above, but has anyone had any luck subbing whole wheat flour with the all-purpose? We LOVE whole-wheat, and I love the idea of it not being quite as processed if possible… 🙂

    • Rhoda says:

      I use half whole wheat, half unbleached white. Makes a wonderful bread. I’ve also mixed in some rye flour I had on hand–heavenly!

  • Lily says:

    Not sure what you did wrong. This makes incredible bread, and I love the authors explanations. Kosher salt is totally different than table salt though, and really my family prefers it. Also, you should think about buying a a stone to bake on as it really is superior to baking it in a regular pan. It aslo is not expensive to buy

  • Leanne says:

    Thanks Crystal! I have been patiently waiting this post. I’m excited to try this.

  • Sandy says:

    If you follow the directions and utilize the equipment suggested and you will get far better results. You can’t expect to make all sorts of changes (table salt vs. kosher, no stone or steam method) and expect to get the results as intended by the author. It would be like someone reading your book and making changes to your suggestions and expecting to get the results you describe.

  • Rhoda says:

    After seeing Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day mentioned in several blogs, I googled and found the website. Very helpful. I still don’t have the book, as we LOVE the basic recipe and I LOVE how easy it is. I do have a baking stone (Pampered Chef), and use cornmeal. One time I forgot the steam, and we actually preferred it. Still beautifully brown, still great crunchy crust–just one step easier. One of the keys I remember from the video is that you do want a wet dough–not so sticky that it makes a gooey mess, but definitely wetter than a traditional bread. Also, the size of the loaf makes a difference–too large and it takes longer to bake; too small and you’re eating toasted crunch. As to the salt issue, I use sea salt, and use the whole amount. Never had a problem there. Crystal, I hope you can get it figured out as the basic recipe is a wonderful, healthy bread.

  • Lara says:

    I LOVE this bread recipe. Yes, it’s a huge difference between table salt, and kosher. Kosher salt has bigger grains, so there is more ’empty’ space in the measuring spoon…

    I used this bread as my ‘gift’ to the whole neighborhood.. still getting raves about it!

  • lindsey says:

    There are lots of recipes for 5 minute a day bread that work better and you can keep any dough in the fridge for a day or two before baking. I find it easier to do all my baking at once and freeze loaves for later in the week. This also saves electricity since you are not heating a cold oven many times over and washing the pans so many times.

  • K Quinn says:

    Well I’ve been baking bread for almost as long as I’ve been alive but I haven’t tried this book yet. Thanks Crystal I placed it on my hold list at the library. You probably don’t need the stone. The steam is easy to come by. I’ve also baked french bread where I sprayed the crust as it was cooking (open the oven door every 15 minutes or so and spray the bread). That gave it a good crispy crust too.
    Also get some kosher salt. It’s also good for brining.

  • Melissa says:

    I bought this book over the summer after reading rave reviews. I tried the basic recipe several times and never really liked the results as the bread always tasted very bland. The buttermilk recipe toward the middle of the book is pretty good though. I make it in bread pans in my convection toaster oven and it usually turns out well. I’ve found that the dough only lasts 3-6 days in my fridge before it develops an overwhelming sourdough-like taste so I usually half the recipe since the two of us don’t eat enough bread in a given week to use up the full recipe.
    For the commentor who said she won’t try this in bread pans since it would stick – try lining your non non-stick pan with aluminum foil. I do this for all of my breads and it works wonderfully.

  • Erin says:

    I’ve been doing ABin5 for 4+ years now. I don’t use table salt at home, always kosher. That would definitely be your issue. Also check out their blog. Based on a post there, I do my loaves in my Dutch Oven, instead with the water, etc. It simplifies the process even further. I also use their pizza dough recipe/technique for Friday night pizza at our house. Also, don’t be afraid to make it in half batches as well.

  • Franicia says:

    I highly recommend good quality stoneware like Pampered Chef. I believe they have stoneware sales in December and I’ve seen them sold on ebay.

    Many years ago, I prayed for an extra Pampered Chef pizza stone (because we bake so much bread and other whole grain food because of food intolerances) and that week my next door neighbor had a hardly-used Pampered Chef pizza stone and rack at her garage sale for $1!

    I tossed my other two stones that were of inferior quality: they didn’t bake well at all. I bake breads on many different types of stoneware shapes and just adjust accordingly.

    I am a big fan of sea salt and we buy that in bulk online. Regular salt doesn’t have trace minerals like sea salt does and that is one reason why you feel good when you eat things with good sea salt in it. When possible avoid buying sea salt with preservatives in it. We once placed a bulk order of sea salt at a health food store and it contained an anti-caking agent (we asked for plain sea salt). I noticed this after cooking with the salt and my food seemed to have somewhat of a metallic taste to it.

  • erin says:

    I have only used Kosher Salt…and definitely use a stone! I’ve been doing this for a few months now, and we use the bread dough for artisan bread, baguettes, and pizza dough mainly.

    One tip, if it hasn’t been mentioned, is to throw ice cubes in the oven instead of steam bath. I think it helps, maybe not as perfect, but I think it works well enough and still gives a crisper crust.

  • amberley says:

    I use this recipe almost exclusively for pizza crust, it’s the the best I’ve made and the whole batch of dough will do 2-3 pizza nights for our family, it is soooo good!

  • Rebecca says:

    I’ve been making this bread recipe for several months now. Following the directions EXACTLY is the first key to success with this bread. Then let the improvising begin. I usually make mine with 4 cups all purpose white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup ground flax seed. The results are delicious. The bread didn’t turn out how I liked when I first started making it, but with practice it is much better. I’d encourage you to keep trying as it might just revolutionalize your life by how easy it is to make. Such a huge time saver. You may want to know, last week I mixed in raisins and cinnamon before baking and the results were great!

  • Kara Dekker says:

    I’ve made the “Boule” recipe from the book with moderate success. The downside is the texture/lack of elasticity of the dough. That can only be had through sufficient mixing and kneading. That said, it is still my basic recipe at this stage in the life of this mother- of- a- 3-month-old. 🙂

    As for the salt, over the past year, I’ve found that in order to get the right texture, I have to use more than I was used to. My taste buds have mostly adjusted. But I still skimp a bit.

    The pizza stone is a must if you want really crusty bread. Even with a fan forced oven, I was unable to get that effect without it.

    Kara

  • Ashley says:

    I finally purchased this cookbook after checking out from the library 5 gazillion times. This may sound a little harsh, but if you want your bread to come out like the book shows you have to use the baking stone & steam method. This is what makes it different than regular old sandwich bread. You can’t expect the same results when you aren’t using the same tools & baking methods. If you have access to a Williams-Sonoma outlet store they inexpensive baking stones. I paid $18 for mine & it’s 14″x16″, big enough to make a large pizza let alone 1 loaf of bread. Seriously, don’t give up on it until you’ve done it exactly how the book says. Oh and be sure to use the “sweep & scoop” method when measuring your ingredients (hello, before this book I wasn’t even aware that the “dig in with your measuring cup” method was incorrect:D). I decided to experiment & see if it really made a difference, so I weighed the flour after scooping it w/the measuring cup & after “sweeping & scooping”. There was a huge difference! Like, 1/4-1/2 c. difference. Keep trying! 🙂

  • Kristi says:

    I didn’t get thru all the comments but I have both the original book and the healthier bread in 5 min/day version. I LOVE it. It is a very scientific method (authored by a chef and a scientist). My guess is that the stone makes a difference (with the steaming process). I use my pizza stone but you could use a cookie sheet [with sides] stone (I have pampered chef) as it would be a great investment…for better cookies and unbelievable bacon.
    I’ve made cinnamon rolls, sandwich bread, baquettes, pizza dough, and want to do flat bread next. (recipes are in the book) All of them delicious and I think you could even use it to make communion bread. Keep working at it and you will fall in love! The book also list a website and you can comment on the site and they will help you.

  • Amby says:

    Try King Arthur Flour and use Kosher Salt ONLY

    The long it stays in the fridge the more it gets a sourdugh taste.

    Don’t give up!!

  • Sharon says:

    A long time ago I did a post on my blog about 5-minute bread. This may help.
    http://fitzgeraldsfamilyfarm.blogspot.com/2010/08/our-daily-bread.html

  • Jenna says:

    We use an un-glazed Travatine (sp) tile for baking. I heard that tip on Good Eats–his pizza episode. We bought 2 for about 5 bucks. Had them for years.

  • Polly says:

    You can use a porcilin tile from Lowes for less than 1.00. make sure you put your bread and tile in at the same time….dont warm up the tile…cake pan and water worked for steaming

  • Tara says:

    I love baking from this book! It takes a few tries to get the master recipe worked out. If you have some kind of clay/ceramic/stoneware dish with a lid you can bake the bread in that. Bake with the cover on for about 20 min and then for 10 with the cover off. The enclosed vessel helps to produce steam. You can also fill a clean spray bottle with water and mist the oven a few times the first few minutes. Try some of the other recipes. My favorite is the buttermilk bread!

  • soury says:

    I tried this out when you first mentioned it Crystal, months ago! I have to say, I’ve only tried the original recipe but my family LOVES it! Here is a link to my blog post with a photo of my 1st loaf(maybe 2nd??), which also has a link to the video and recipe I used.

    I do agree with others though, it was way too salty as originally written, so I dialed down to 1 TBLS and that’s perfect for us. I’m not sure what tips and tricks I can lend, but here is my process.

    I use 6 1/2 cups of white flour, active dry yeast (the kind that comes in a packet), and regular table salt. I stick everything in an ice cream bucket (with a hole poked in the lid), mix until it’s all moistened, and then refrigerate it until I’m ready to bake.

    When I’m ready to bake: I use roughly 1/2 the dough to make a large, longish loaf. Make sure to flour your hands well, lift up/dig out half the dough and cut off the portion. I then tuck and shape it (just as the video shows) , place it on a sheet of parchment paper, and allow it to rest on the counter for 45 minutes or so.
    About 15 minutes before baking I pre-heat the oven and my pizza stone. Then just before sliding it in the oven I slash the top and get a cup of ice ready, as I do the steam method. Just as seen in the video 🙂
    I bake it for 35 minutes, until the crust is really golden and hard, almost seems over baked, but it’s not!

    It needs to rest and cool for an hour or so before slicing, in my opinion, otherwise the dough inside still seems a bit too moist. But’s it’s still good, either way.

    I’m not sure if it matters, but we have an electric (coiled bottom) oven.

  • Lisa says:

    We tried the online recipe. We didn’t like it. Used the rest of the dough for grilled flatbread. I’ve gone back to my BH&G cookbook for bread baking.

  • Kelli says:

    I am going to try this recipe. My husband makes artisan bread for a living for the past thirteen years. I asked him about the salt issue, you should use the full amount. He uses sea salt, but said that table salt will also work. And that the steam is important. I usually do not try to make bread, when I do it usually does not come out right. I will have to have him bring some of his bread home to let our kids compare. : )

  • Julie in IN says:

    Crystal,

    PLEASE, buy yourself a pizza stone!!! You will thank me. :oP

    You will wonder why you waited so long and love your homemade bread and pizza more.than.ever!

  • Julie in IN says:

    By the way, I am a super tightwad and am still glad I spent the money on a stone.

  • Julie in IN says:

    Buy a pizza peel, too. It makes the job so much easier and your family will think you are a pro. :oP

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