40+ Cake Baking Tips & Tricks {Happy Homemaker Notes}

Here is a large assortment of notes I’ve accumulated over the years for troubleshooting problems and improving results when baking cakes. Keep in mind different recipes will provide different results, but overall I’ve found these do noticeably improve most recipes or make things easier.


  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of meringue powder to your mix to help it rise a bit higher and make it a bit lighter in texture.
  • Add 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin to the batter, helps prevent the surface from splitting or cracking.
  • First add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the butter and sugar called for before mixing the rest of the ingredients. Helps make the cake lighter.
  • Take your time creaming the butter, beat/cream for at least 5 minutes to get lots of air into the butter. Add the sugar and beat/cream really well again.
  • Separate eggs first–beat yolks till golden and creamy then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat the egg whites until light and frothy before folding them into the butter mixture.

Keep in mind: Some recipes success depends on a specific ingredient or action. If one of these tips contradicts your recipe, your best bet is to follow what you have.


  • Chocolate: Before adding the bicarb required, mix it with a teaspoon of vinegar.
  • Dense or Fruit Cakes: Keep a heatproof dish full of water in the oven while baking (replace water if needed to keep it topped up).
  • Substitute oil for unsweetened applesauce or plain yogurt. Your measure can be 1:1 or 50/50. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup oil, use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce. Different types of cakes will offer different results for texture and taste, but a good start would try the 50/50. Not only helps for moister results, also cuts fat.


  • Measure all ingredients to exact amounts first, then sift.

Prepping Tins

Homemade Magic Pan Grease: You can buy Magic Grease but how about making your own, it’s so easy! This is used as a substitute to greasing then dusting with flour when directed to do so.

Keep unused portion in an airtight container and refrigerate to use next time.

  • First Version: Mix 1 cup shortening (like Crisco), 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup vegetable oil and apply evenly with a pastry brush.
  • Second: 2 cups of Crisco and 1 cup of flour

More greasing tips:

  • Apply with a cupcake wrapper, a paper towel, a piece of wax paper, the butter wrapper or a plastic baggy. You could also use a pastry brush.
  • Try dusting the tins with a bit of the dry cake mix or cocoa (for chocolate) instead of flour.
  • Apply shortening then line with a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom. Re-grease the top of the wax paper. Pour in the batter. To get the wax paper to size, you can either trace the bottom of the tin and cut it out, or after greasing, smooth a sheet of wax paper into the pan (pressing all around the creases), remove the wax paper and cut out along the crease. This is kinda messy though, better to trace then cut it out.
  • To cut fat, try skipping greasing the pans even if the recipe instructs to do so. You can just place a waxed paper liner to fit the bottom, then pour in the batter. This will also help remove the finished product cleanly. For high varieties, you’ll want to still grease and flour sides of pans if specified.

Getting It Level

  • Fill tins no more than 1/2 to 2/3 full to allow for even rising.
  • Once you’ve poured the batter in, wobble the pan sideways a bit so the batter reaches up along each side (with the middle being slightly lower). As it bakes the middle and edges will meet and rise more evenly.
  • If it rose high and uneven in the middle, you may need to slice a bit off across the top so it’s level.


  • Preheat the oven first before starting, make sure the rack is in the center (unless directed differently) and keep tin in the center of the rack. If you’re baking more than one at a time, keep them at least 2″ away from the walls of the oven and from each other.

Check For Doneness

  • Using a toothpick, wood skewer or a piece of raw spaghetti, test for doneness by placing the toothpick into the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Problems With Sticking To Tin

  • Place a thick, clean towel in the kitchen sink and pour a kettle of boiling hot water over the towel to heat it (don’t plug the sink to retain the water, allow it to drain out). Set the pan on the hot towel and leave it for a minute or two, the cake should turn out easily.
  • Turn pan over on a sheet of wax paper or a cooling rack. Place a clean, thin cotton towel on top and using a hot steam iron, heat the bottom for a few minutes. The tin should lift off cleanly.
  • Cool cakes completely in the pans before trying to remove them. Don’t cool on the stove where there’s heat, they’re best cooled on a rack placed on the counter. Gently insert a knife between the outside of the cake and the inside of the tin. Run it along the edges to loosen things up before turning over.

Angel Food

  • When done, take it directly from the oven and place it upside down on the neck of a bottle. This will help prevent the cake from falling as it cools. After 30 minutes, you can turn it over then remove from pan once cooled.

Frosting & Icing

  • Don’t attempt to ice it until it’s completely cool. Dust the surface lightly with a pastry brush first, helps reduce crumbs in the icing.
  • First ice with a thin layer, then refrigerate (covered). After an hour you can do a complete frosting job. This helps keep the crumbs at bay and your outer frosting layer should be crumb free.
  • After frosting, you can use a hair dryer to slightly melt it. This will give things a smooth, glossy look. If you prefer you can use a metal icing spatula or knife first heated by sitting in hot water, wipe dry, then use the heated knife to smooth the icing.
  • Have a bag of chocolate chips on hand? Just sit the whole bag in a bowl of very hot water, and mush the bag up every couple of minutes until all the chocolate has melted and there are no lumps. Snip the corner of the bag and squeeze out the melted chocolate directly onto the surface.
  • Have two favorite frostings and can’t decide which one to use on a layer cake? Try both! Spread one version on one layer, and spread the other on the bottom of the other layer (you’ll want to flip the bottom ‘up’ when frosting). Then put the layers together. The middle will have a delicious two-flavor surprise :). Can also use this technique when filling the layers with a combination of fruit and whipped cream.
  • To help prevent a flaking or cracking, add a pinch of bicarb when mixing the frosting.
  • If icing is a bit too thin or runny, lightly dust the surface with flour then spread the icing. This will help hold it in place.
  • For single layers, turn upside down before icing so that the top is perfectly flat and even. When icing two rounds or squares, place a layer of frosting on one round, then place the other round upside down on top for a perfectly flat surface.
  • Easily Color Shredded Coconut: Shredded coconut can be a nice, decorative touch achieved easily. Simply put the coconut in a clean jar (only one half jar full at a time), add a few drops of food coloring in your choice of color, then cap the jar and shake it until all the coconut is evenly tinted.


  • Heat a knife first before cutting for crumble-free slices. To heat the knife, you can run the knife under very hot water then wipe dry with a clean towel.
  • Use unwaxed dental floss to slice (great for the gooey or sticky varieties).
  • See this page for ways to get more servings and creative slice shapes.

Keep Cut Slices Fresh

Once you start slicing, the exposed or cut sides can dry out quickly. Here’s a way to keep things fresh:

  • Wrap any leftovers with a few slices of apple or cubes of sugar or a slice of fresh bread set inside the pan (or in the open space of the plate). Make sure to store it in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap.


  • Dust the holder or platter with a bit of confectioner’s sugar before placing the cake on it, this will help keep it from sticking to the bottom.
  • Use ingredients that are at room temperature, the butter soft but not melted or oily.
  • When mixing sticky, goopy ingredients (molasses, honey, peanut butter), try spraying the measuring cups with non-stick spray first (just lightly). The ingredients will come out easier.
  • You can make your own cake flour if you’re in a pinch (see this page), simply add two level tablespoons of corn starch to a one cup measure, then fill with bread flour. Sift three times then use as needed.
  • Dust nuts and fruit with flour before adding to batter or try toasting nuts first. You can also just sprinkle the nuts across the top of the batter instead of mixing them in, this way the nuts will toast while baking.
  • How To Make Bigger Cakes From Mixes: Add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. baking powder to the boxed mix.
  • To Clean Edges Of Pan: Dip a raw potato into scouring powder to work on the rusted corners and edges. You could also try using bicarb with a few drops of lemon juice. Source.

And finally–sometimes it seems things just never turn out right. Try running through the following list to see if you can spot what the problem may be. A common issue is that the oven temperature isn’t true to what the dial says. Buy a thermometer, preheat your oven and test.

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    • Kansas A

    I have used the tip “Make bigger cakes from mixes” and it works great! I even printed out the tip and put it in my pantry where my cake mixes are located so I don’t have to hunt for it everytime I make a cake πŸ™‚

      • jenny

      how much bigger was the cake?

        • Suzii

        Hi, I added this to a cake 10″ x 12″ rectangle cake which is 4 cake mixes and it had less cracking on the top maybe should of done double quantity. Hope that helps.

      • Becky

      Did you follow the box cake mix and put the oil and eggs in and then add the flour, sugar, egg and baking powder?

        • Ann

        My butter nut pound have not been raising like they used to
        can u give me any tips

    • Sandra McKay

    I would like to bake a one hundred dollar bill inside a loaf cake for one of my grandsons. Can you tell me how to accomplish this without destroying the bill? Could I protect it with aluminum foil? Do you know of a container made for the purpose of hiding money in baked goods?

      • JSYK

      My Gormother has been doing it for years…. wrap it in tin-foil…. we’ve all survived through the years πŸ™‚

        • Pami

        haha. Never thought of that. That’s awesome !!!!

          • Karen Wells RN

          Sure you want to do that MONEY is super DIRTY. Just think of how many hands have touched that after picking their nose or not washing their hands after bathroom use. Just a thought.

    • TipNut

    Sandra I wouldn’t bake the cake with the bill inside. For one thing, money is filthy and it should be sealed in plastic if it’s going to be in a food item. Plastic will melt in the oven, ruin the cake.

    What I would do if I were you:

    • Bake a two layer cake or a loaf cake.
    • Wrap the 100 dollar bill and seal in plastic.
    • After the cake is baked and has cooled, cut the loaf cake in half (lengthwise) or remove a clean chunk of cake from the top middle.
    • Plop the bill in between the layers or in the hole, whichever method you choose, then cover with the other half or the chunk you took out.
    • Ice the cake to cover the “seam”.

    You could also look up tips for “Mardi Gras King Cake”. These cakes have items hidden inside, but I don’t think they’re baked in the cake and are actually put in them after they’re done baking.

    • Gabrielle

    I am doing an art project for school, for which I’d like to bake small puzzle pieces inside of cupcakes. Ceramic puzzle pieces are not an option, and I haven’t found any Sculpey-like clays that are suitable for actual use with food. Because they would be cupcakes, placed in liners, and only the top would be frosted, I’d like to actually bake the pieces inside the cupcake, not cut into it later and place it between the layers. Do you have any suggestions for a non-toxic, heat-proof material that can I use to make my puzzle?

      • Tracey

      The silicone mats that are used to roll fondant on, will not melt in the oven. You could cut the pieces out of that or any of the silicone baking mats or cupcake forms. Wash them thoroughly first of course!

    • TipNut

    Couldn’t you bake the cupcakes then make a vertical slit at the bottom to insert the puzzle pieces up into the cupcake? I think that would work Gabrielle and the cupcakes wouldn’t need to be cut in half or anything. It would be fussy, careful work to make sure the cupcakes aren’t squished or fall apart. It would depend on the size of the puzzle pieces too.

    As for baking something inside the cupcake, I don’t have any ideas for what will work.

    • Pat Richardson

    When using store bought frosting, and you want to extend it by
    making it lighter, just whip it
    with a spoon while it is still in
    the container. It will “aerate”
    the frosting and make it easier
    to spread.

    • Barb

    I am in the process of making my wedding cake. I managed to get the 10″ square 2 layer, filled and put together. However, my cakes get larger, up to 16″ across and looking for a trick to get the top layer onto the filled bottom layer easily. any suggestions?

      • Cindy

      I use a very large cookie sheet for this. I lightly dust the surface of the cake that is in contact with the cookie sheet with powdered sugar. This helps it slide easily. Then I carefully position the sheet over the iced/filled bottom layer and slide the top layer onto it. With practice, you’ll be able to slip a big cake layer right into position. Good luck!

    • Delfina

    The questions that I have is that why when I bake a cake most of the time the cake has holes in it.

      • Nicole

      You need to “knock” out the air bubbles. After you put the batter in the pan pick it up and knock on the bottom like you’re knocking on a door. You can also (gently) tap it on the counter top to make those bubbles rise to the top, too.

      • Cindy Semrau

      You are mixing it too much. Box mix says, ‘two minutes’, after the initial stirring of 30 seconds, but after that, I scrape down the sides and mix for one additional minute.

      I find that I still have to mix the batter by hand as some powder may remain at the bottom of the bowl.

      As suggested by someone else, knock the cake pan on the counter after you pour it in to bring air bubbles to the top. It doesn’t take long if you under mix it slightly because you didn’t put additional air into it.

      Here’s another tip, off topic:

      Muffins, need very little stirring. Mix BARELY. It’s okay to have some dry ingredients when you pile it into muffin tins. When you see how high and beautiful they get (just like a bakery’s) you’ll impress everyone!

    • Tajha

    Waxed paper to line something you’re going to put in the oven? Won’t that make your cake taste like crayons? I’d use parchment paper…

      • TipNut

      Nope, it doesn’t make the food waxy tasting at all. Baking with waxed paper has been a common practise for decades. As long as it is used in baking where the batter covers the paper completely (say for cake baking rather than cookie baking), it’s fine to use. As you suggest, parchment paper can be used instead.

    • Sandra Roberts

    I submitted this question a little while ago but made a typo in my email address. The questions is….My loaf cakes all come out flat on top instead of nice and rounded. What am I doing wrong?

    • Nikki

    How can you keep cornbread made in a cast-iron skillet, from going flat? I wanted it to rise and turn out kinda fluffy and moist like a cake. It was tasty and sweet – but it was kinda flat. Any suggestions?

      • Sue Young

      Hi Nikki I don’t know what your recipe calls for when you make your cornbread. But I use self rising cornmeal one egg, sweet milk and liquid oil ususally crisco. Then spay my iron skillet very good and most of the time mine will rise just as much as my cakes do. Hope this helps you

    • Moi

    Before putting my cakes in an air-tight container, I always wait until they’re completely cool (sometimes I wait overnight to close the lid of the container). But no matter how long I wait, the top of my cakes are always “wet”. How can I have cakes that are “dry” on top. It’s the same thing for muffins.

    • Dawnn

    I’ve searched all over the net and can’t get any answer to this Q:..can you reuse the plastic bundt style plastic pan that angle food cakes comes in at the local grocery store?…short of trying it in my own oven..I’m stumped.

      • renee

      You can reuse the plastic pan for storage-but wouldn’t be heat proof to use in the oven.

    • Jane

    When I make cupcakes, they turn out fine, I cool them thoroughly before frosting, but a few hours later the paper case seperates from the case, why does this happen and how do I prevent it? I’d be grateful for any tips.

    Jane πŸ™‚

      • kath

      after years of baking suddenly had same problem,until i realised i was using slightly larger eggs .less liquid problem solved

      • Kate

      Use butter you shouldn’t have this problem then. Plus weigh your egg once you’ve cracked them. πŸ™‚

    • madhu

    i prepared barbie doll cake with wipped cream icing . i kept in fridge whole night.on the morning i saw cracks on the top of the icing . could u tell me what is reason for this? and tell me what r the good tips to avoid cracks on the icing.

    • Linda

    I am making a wedding cake and was wondering if I can make 2 days ahead, cool completely, and wrap in saran wrap then stick in fridge until decorating?

      • Aspen Earnhart

      That is what we did. We had to make 1 – 6″ round, 2 – 8″ round, 2 – 10″ round, 2 – 12″ round and then 1 – 16″ round. We baked the cakes a few days in advance, let them cool completely for about 4 hours (just to make sure), and then wrapped them in saran wrap and put them in the fridge. They came out fine, we had several compliments on the cakes.

        • Amy

        I make specialty cakes and always make them 3-5 days ahead of time. I let them cool, wrap in saran wrap and then wrap in foil and put them in the freezer. They can keep for a few weeks that way if need be. Plus I have found that freezing them while still a bit warm keeps them super moist. I always get compliments on how moist my cakes are….

    • Kristina Bowers

    This website helped me out in home ec . Great tips ! My cake turned out GREAT !

    • Ren

    I tired adding the gelatin to prevent the top of the cake from splitting or cracking and guess what it still cracked and split at the side so what am I doing wrong?

      • Aspen Earnhart

      Are you using Wilton’s Bake Even strips? If not, try those, they work really well.

    • Kiran

    I have a question, I’m making a 1/2 chocolate 1/2 white cake….chocolate on bottom white on top. Can I put parchment paper in between the 2 flavors then bake it so I don’t have yo cut the layers

      • Holly

      try baking them seperatly.

    • eth

    I have a question,,,how to get a uniformity of pores/structure of cakes? and how to make them still dry (not too moist) once we leave them outside from the oven. because every time I made cakes. I left it outside for a while. then they got moist and collapse.

    • Margaret Raesner

    here lately every cake I bake turns away from the side of the pan after I take it out of the oven. What’s happening? Looks good when still in the oven, but by the time it’s cool it’s at l east 1/2 inch from the sides. please help.

    • Jane Westfall

    I have found the PERFECT way to make moist meat loaf…Every time I made meat loaf, it did not come out very “””tasty'” mainly bland…so one time I added some ‘”milk”” to the mix…Now it is PERECT tasting every single time..Jane

      • stacy

      Try a tbl spoon of grape jelly it makes it sweet and with katcup tanggy mmmm so good.

    • Serena

    When I add fruit e.g. raspberries, to my cupcakes it always sinks to the bottom and then you lose half the cupcake when you take the paper case off – do you have any tips to stop this happening? Thanks

      • Nicole

      Toss the berries in flour, dust off the excess, then stir into your batter.

    • Mary Lou

    My cakes have a nice “rise” in them until cooling – then they “deflate”. WHAT am I doing wrong?? They look wonderful and test done then go flat..HELP!!

      • Kate

      Try cooling them by leaving them in the oven, switching the oven off and opening the door. it could be that you’re removing them just a minute or two too quickly.

      • Shyla G

      I have found an easy way to make a cake a little fluffier and slightly healthier. If you replace oil with apple sauce it helps the cake rise a little more and it’s healthier than using oil. You still need to put oil in the pan before baking but you can’t taste the apple sauce in the final piece.

    • Matt

    I need to find a quick way to cool angel food cakes. I am making them for a charity auction and I need to make seven in a day. I have done five and it took me 8 hours with 2 cake pans. Cool down time is the main issue. Also, Do you think I could bake them weeks in advance then freeze them. Defrost at the time I need them then frost them?

      • Nicole

      Put them in a cool place on a cooling rack. A rack makes a world of difference, the higher it is from teh counter top the better. The heat from the bottom of the pan gets dispersed a lot better that way.

      • Julie

      I always freeze cake ahead of time. Angel food cakes also. Be sure you wrap them with foil or plastic first. Never had a problem yet!

    • alison

    why when i bake cup cakes in foil cases do they always sink ??

    • lakshmi

    can i use butter and oil mixture together in making a cake(becze sometimes i have less butter while preparing a cake).

      • mamaT

      crisco can be used in place of butter

    • gla

    Why do I get beads of condesation on iced cakes in my fridgs? Looks like beads of sweat.

      • Nicole

      Your fridge is high in humidity by design, so (especially) if it’s not covered moisture will settle on it because it has a lot of moisture in it.

    • Rosina

    If I do not use alcohol in my fruitcake, will the cake last about two weeks at room temperature in the summertime? Do I sprinkle say apple or orange juice over the cake from time to time as you would with brandy?

      • Kate

      Don’t use juice! Your cake will ferment. Instead use a simple sugar syrup of equal quantities of sugar and water boiled together. You can flavour it by adding lemon peel and vanilla for example. Hope this helps.

    • maddy

    i plan on baking my own wedding cake. I was told to make small hole in the cake and then pour some mixed confection sugar & water. this will help keep a big cake from braking or flaking. is this ture???

    • THERESA S,

    my pound cakes crack on the top and it stick to the tube at the top of the bunt pan. the caked be delicious. the cake just be ugly on the top,

    • vigneshwar

    hi ,
    i am preparing a plum cake in my home under a convection oven . but i am not satisfied with the results , the main problem is the cake is only baked in the sides but not in the middle ! could you provide a solution to my problem ? and also send a suitable plum cake recipe !

    • Itunuoluwa

    Hi, this site is lovely, thank you for all the tips! I cannot find butter in my area, i need to urgently bake a fruit cake. I usually do a mix of margarine and butter. Can I use a combination of margarine and oil?

    • Shannon

    I make pretty good chocolate cupcakes, but despite using dark dutch cocoa powder, i always feel like my cupcakes aren’t as dark and chocolaty as bakery cupcakes. I’ve scoured the internet but everyone just recommends what I’m all ready doing. Is there a trick to getting more chocolate into my cupcake? How do bakeries like ‘Sprinkles’ and such get their cakes so dark?

      • Jenn

      Replace flour with cocoa powder from the original mixture. I usually replace 1oz of flour with cocoa, and they always turn out a beautiful dark chocolate colour and are very tasty too :)x

    • Leigha

    I have a wonderful tip!!! I was getting frustrated from making beautiful cupcakes then having them stick to the paper baking cups, I tried this and it worked perfectly: Spray the paper baking cups with non-stick cooking spray. After you do this, you will get in-tact cupcakes!!!

    • evelyn

    hi, my problem is that after i iced a chocolate cake there appeared small holes and its not good to see although my icing is nice, i really don’t know why the holes appeared. please help. thanks.

    • lynn

    What is the conversion oven temperature for baking a cake in a glass pan rather than a metal one?
    Does it have to be lower or higher than 350? Thanks.

    • reta

    Do you put buttermilk at room temperature for baking a cake?

    • Melba

    Why my cake gets sank when I get it out of the oven?.

    • Jody

    for a very moist cake as soon as its done baking remove from oven and put it straight into the freezer for about an hour. then remove and dress as desired. ALWAYS a moist cake!

    • Sandra Holcomb

    I’ve made a couple of three layer cakes and I have a slight problem.
    I understand that the layers can bake unevenly and have humps. That can be corrected.
    My problem is that the layer itself seems to bake uneven at an angle, like a layer would be slightly higher on one side than the other side. Why is that?
    Or is it my oven? I have a double oven set that was installed. These two cakes I made were the first baked in my oven.

    I could buy the strips for the pans, but is there another reason for unlevelness in this sense?

      • Kate

      Either your oven is uneven on the floor or it’s baking unevenly. is it a fan oven? I’d complain to the manafacturer.

    • Earnestine Rahming

    Does Angle Food Cake have to baked in round pan with a whole, y not square of rectangle

    • Rachelle

    How do i get nuts….(sliced almonds) to adhere to inside of a tube pan before pouring batter in the pan? So, once done, and cooled, when taken out of the pan, the nuts are slightly embedded on cake? I’ve tried butter, but it won’t work. Anyone have any ideas?

      • Kate

      Toast your nuts add a little butter and flour, stick to the pan and freeze. Then pour in your mix.

    • Pat

    Can anyone please tell me why my cakes are very greasy

    • Jessica

    Add some strong coffee in your chocolate cake batter in place of the water to get the dark chocolate look and enhance the coco flavor. No one ever knows I have coffee in there! Also use a better dutch processes cocoa powder if you want a better flavor. i just us whatever is in my grocery store and count on the coffee to boost less expensive products.

    • Aida Rodriguez

    At what moment during the process of the battle I can add the two tablespoon of meringue powder for rising the cake, thanks

      • Kate

      Sieve it into your flour.

    • shawna

    I would not put money in baking. My children would cut one slice for themselves and give away the cake to friends.or let it dry in the fridge and throw it out later.

    • Martha

    My cake mix calls for three eggs I only add two. I mix my batter with a wire whip until blended. I preheat my oven no peeking and make sure my cake is done with a tooth pick. I let my cake cool completely before I frost and decorate my cake but when it comes to cut the cake it crumbles.Checked the oven it is at the correct temperature.

    • lou

    i’ve just made a cake but i dont intend to sandwich the two halves together with buttercream n jam until tomorrow afternoon… where is the best place to keep it in the meantime? ive been told an airtight container but would i need to keep this in a fridge or just in a cool dry place? like a cuboard?

    • gerry Lee

    To make a cake cook so it don’t rise in the middle and slant down on the sides, take strip of towel, real one not paper two times the width of the pan, wet it good, fold length wise, wrap the pan, clip it with a big bobby pin or a couple close pins so it staays on the pan, put in oven and when you open the oven door to take it out, the cake will have raised highre, and will be nice and flat on the top.After you frost it, wait for half hour, take a paper towel that has bumps on it, gently press on sides of cake, and it looks very pretty. Gerry

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