Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Strawberry sheet cake

strawberry sheet cake

I have to say that it’s good to be in charge. Sure, I’m awfully busy—waking up at the crack of dawn and cooking until the sun sets. But as the boss I get to do anything I want, including making executive decisions. And when faced with the question recently of either pie or cake, I chose cake—strawberry cake to be exact.

Last week, the first local strawberries appeared at the farmer’s market and I went nuts. We have one farmer who sells strawberries that are jewels—each one loaded with juice with a deep red coloring that goes all the way to the core. These berries aren’t sprayed and don’t need any adornment; I can eat my way through a pint in about 10 minutes.

My preference for fresh in-season fruit is to eat it simply—with perhaps a light sprinkle of sugar to bring out some of the juice and flavor. And I find myself making a lot of strawberry shortcake this time of year as it’s a wonderful way to showcase my favorite spring berry. But sometimes you want to change things up a bit, which is how I found myself wondering how to make that Southern classic—strawberry cake.

strawberries

When researching strawberry cake recipes, however, I noticed that most of them were made with boxed cake mix along with strawberry gelatin. I didn’t want to make my cake that way so I called my grandma to see how she made hers. Yep, she confirmed that her recipe was the same as well.

“This is an outrage!” I thought. And so after much hand wringing over the sad state of strawberry cakes made from scratch, I decided to just come up with my own recipe instead.

I took my grandma’s chocolate sheet cake recipe and swapped the strawberries for the cocoa and reduced the amount of liquid. For the frosting (or do you say icing?), I added some cream cheese and threw in a bit of lime juice as well. Now, while the frosting is a lovely shade of pink I realize that the cake is not. I believe this is why so many recipes call for strawberry gelatin and/or food coloring—so the color will be what the mind expects.

strawberry sheet cake

But even if this cake isn’t pink, it’s still tender and moist with a delicate strawberry flavor that’s just sweet enough. And at the end of the day, what more could you want?

Strawberry sheet cake
Ingredients:
12 oz .fresh strawberries, stems removed and chopped (about 3 cups)
2 cups of sugar plus 2 teaspoons
2 cups of flour
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Method:
Over the chopped strawberries, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 cup of water. Let them sit for an hour at room temperature so they can release some of their juices. The berries should reduce to about 1 1/2 cups. In a blender of food processor, crush the berries on a low speed for a few seconds—you want them juicy but still with some texture. Take 1/2 cup of the strawberry mixture for the frosting and leave the remaining crushed strawberries for the cake.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the sugar and flour together in a bowl.

Melt the butter on low in a saucepan and then whisk it with the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and baking soda. Add the liquid to the flour and then stir in one cup of the crushed strawberries.

Pour batter into greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cake is done when a knife comes out clean from the center. Let it cool and then frost with the strawberry cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

Note: The cake will be a little brown. This, I hear, is because of the alkaline reaction of the ingredients. Do not be alarmed!

Strawberry cream cheese frosting
Ingredients:
1/4 pound of butter (1 stick) at room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup crushed strawberries
2 teaspoons of lime juice (about half a lime)
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:
Whip together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until blended. Add the strawberries, lime juice, lime zest and vanilla. Spread over cooled cake.

Note: Depending on how juicy your berries are, your icing may be runnier than usual. If this is the case, I'd add more cream cheese to thicken it up.

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78 comments:

kel said...

Mmmm, I've been wanting to make a homemade strawberry cake, this looks delicious!

My Kitchen in the Rockies said...

That cake looks very yummy. I like the soft pink color in it. Thanks for sharing.

Paula said...

this cake looks so delicious!

DessertForTwo said...

What a fun twist on sheath cake! Can't wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

thank you! I think it's a shame that so many people make "homemade" cakes but use box mixes, boxes of jello, pre-made frosting or icing, etc. More power to you. I'll be sure to try this recipe.

SMITH BITES said...

Yes please! LOVE that the cake is made from scratch and not a box - will give this one a try!

Dan said...

Looks delicious, can't wait to try this recipe!

I'm a newbie to Mexican cuisine and just started a blog myself back in February. I'd love some feedback from you if you ever get a chance to check it out. I love your site and how you incorporate your own photography, it really adds something special.

Marina said...

Question: do you bake this in a 9x13 pan or in a sheet cake pan as the title would suggest?

Steff @ The Kitchen Trials said...

No wonder you ate half this cake in a single day. It sounds wonderful.

As for frosting vs. icing: I vote for frosting. Icing is what goes on top of donuts. And please don't ask how I came up with that arbitrary divide. I really don't know. =)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kei--Thank you!

My Kitchen in the Rockies--It's subtle. And you're very welcome!

Paula-Gracias!

DessertForTwo--It's amazing how versatile the basic batter is.

Anon--I think our grandmother's generation found box mixes to be progress, so it makes sense that they use them.

Smith Bites--I'm a big fan of making things from scratch. I think it always tastes better as well.

Dan--Welcome to the world of blogging!

Marina--I baked it in a 9x13 pan, but I believe the batter would work in a proper sheet cake pan as well as that's what my family uses.

Steff--Icing is for doughnuts? That works for me!

Kat said...

My birthday may not be for a couple of months but I know what cake I'm going to make. I LOVE strawberries.

Marissa said...

I am dying for some fresh local strawberries! unfortunately we won't have any for at least another month, but I am looking forward to them. Nothing better than fresh berries!

Karee said...

I always had strawberry cake on my birthday growing up. My brother now claims that it was "his" special cake. Regardless, strawberry cake brings back memories of our San Antonio childhood. Yum!

p.s. I also grew up calling it icing. My family almost never made thick frosting. But of course, you have to pronounce it, "AYE-cing".

the country cook said...

YUM! I've never really been a fan of strawberry cake, but I think I would love it this way - especially with that strawberry cream cheese icing! - www.delightfulcountrycookin.com

kate said...

I was disappointed, too, when I began searching for strawberry cake recipes and found that almost all of them used strawberry jello. I don't know exactly what the jello adds to the whole thing, besides the color (and perhaps a bit of texture, but the one I tried last year that was made with jello didn't have a markedly different texture than other cakes I've made...). I mean, I'm not terribly opposed to either jello or box cakes (many a great southern recipe does wonderful things to either of those products!), but it just seemed unnecessary in the case of such glorious summer berries.

Anyway, we've been rolling in strawberries around here lately (here being NC), and I'm so glad you posted a non-jello/non-box-cake version that I can try!

Joanne said...

I got some of those local strawberries this weekend and plowed through them in about thirty seconds, they were that good. I've wanted to make a strawberry cake for a while but have been so frustrated by the box mix recipes! Thanks for sharing this.

Melissa said...

I just want the icing... by the looks of it I could eat it by the spoonful!

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Isn't it amazing when you realize your grandmother used (gasp) a mix? I was so sad when I realized that my grandmother's brownies were really Betty Crocker. But good for you for going on to make the real deal! And pink or not, your cake looks awesome.

heather @ chiknpastry said...

i LOVE strawberry cake! looks like a great recipe.

i know a lot of people who make boxed cake, and they are amazed (AMAZED) to hear someone baking from scratch. it's funny to me, now that i've been cooking for a few years - it's only a few more steps, and much tastier to bake from scratch!

Heidi said...

oh yum! My mom made a strawberry bundt with strawberry glaze that I LOVED, and was so disappointed to find the recipe (box cake, jello, frozen strawberries...). Can't wait to try this one!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kat--It's perfect for a birthday!

Marissa--Another month? Be patient!

Karee--You definitely have to say it that way!

the country cook--Yep, the strawberry cream cheese frosting is addictive!

kate--I think it's for color and a more enhanced strawberry flavor. But I prefer it with real berries.

Joanne--Yep, it doesn't take long to eat them, does it? And you're welcome!

Melissa--And that's exactly what I did!

Kate--I know! I was shocked, but I shouldn't have been. For them, box mixes were a sign of progress after their hard-scrabble farm childhoods.

Heather--I know! Making a cake is one of the easiest things to do. People are shocked when the realize there's not that much advantage with the box mix.

Heidi-Oh, strawberry bundt sounds good, too! Hope you like this one!

Bee said...

Another reminder that we grew up during the jello years. My parents' church did a cookbook some years ago and every other recipe called for jello, it seemed.

I look forward to your jello-free version . . . when the English strawberries in my garden get ripe! (We have at least six weeks to go.)

Melissa said...

I'm a homesick Texan living in Italy, where buttermilk is not to be had.....any suggestions for a good substitute? Thanks in advance!

Marjorie said...

Your cake and the strawberries look divine. I would love a serving of that for my breakfast :)

tasteofbeirut said...

That is one cake I have always wanted to make and never got around to~ Thanks to you I now have a good recipe to follow~

Celeste said...

I was reading the ingredients on some strawberry ice cream treat once, and was amazed to find that beet juice was added for coloring. I wonder if a touch of this would give you the color you remember without using a packaged mix or artificial coloring.

Celeste said...

Melissa, if you add a tablespoon of either white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a cup and then fill to the one cup line with whole milk and wait about 5 minutes, you will get a buttermilk substitute. It's not quite as thick as true buttermilk and doesn't give quite the same tenderness to pancakes, but it has the right taste. I learned about this in Cooks Illustrated magazine.

Karen said...

Oh My Gosh! I was looking for something like this a few weeks back. My husband picked fresh strawberries from Marburger's Orchard in Fredericksburg (http://www.marburgerorchard.com/) and I put some up as jam, and stuck some in the freezer. I can't wait to make this cake. It looks devine!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Bee--You are patient, I don't know if I could wait until late June for strawberries! When I lived in Spain, they arrived in April. It's amazing how a few hundred miles can affect growing patterns.

Melissa--You can add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk, let it sit for 10 minutes, and it will have the right flavor. And I've heard of some people using Kefir as a substitute.

Marjorie--It makes a fine breakfast indeed!

Tasteofbeirut--Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

Celeste--Thank you for the buttermilk tips. And beet juice! That's a brilliant idea! I'll definitely try that next time.

Karen--The Hill County has the best fruit, doesn't it? I bet you're already seeing peaches!

Anonymous said...

I happen to have strawberries in my frig and so I am making this TONIGHT! I am delighted to find a recipe that doesn't use Jello because my son can't have Red#40 which seems to be in just about everything. He'll be delighted to have this!!!!

Sonya said...

I just made this cake - it looks delicious. One question - given how much butter and cream cheese is in the frosting, do I refrigerate it?

lisa said...

That's so true that strawberry cakes usually involve jello or food coloring. Obviously, there's no need for that--Yours looks fantastic! This would make a perfect afternoon snack right now.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Hope you enjoy it! And I'm also sensitive to artificial food coloring, which is why I try to avoid it.

Sonya--I would refrigerate it.

Heide said...

This recipe sounds so refreshing! Perfect for summer.

Leah said...

Lisa--I have been following your blog for about 1 1/2 years or so, and I love it (P.S. Congrats on the cookbook--I can't wait to buy it!).You have the original food blog I EVER visited when I was looking for a King Ranch Chicken recipe that DIDN'T have canned soup in it. I've been hooked ever since. Even then, I may not have gotten interested in food blogs had the first blog NOT been from a fellow TEXAN. I had every intention to find a recipe and start making it, an lo and behold, I was reading several hours later. I laughed so hard and was SO amazed at the memories that you elicited from me and my travels across Texas! Thank you so much. Now the reason why I am writing. My Grandmother had the same chocolate sheet cake you have. My copy is old and ragged. I have made it hundreds of times. The only difference is someone "misnamed" it and called it Texas Chocolate SHEATH Cake. When I read your adaptation that became a Strawberry version, I really had to write. I have made that cake into so many flavors: vanilla, chocolate mint, almond, orange, etc, etc. I realized anytime I needed a really good cake and I wanted it to ALL be home made, and nothing was available, I made my own adaptation to THIS cake. You cannot screw it up! I, however, have never made "strawberry", and since strawberry is also my favorite summer berry (altho I like ALL of them)I will make this soon. Thanks again and thanks for the great blog--you have inspired me to do my own. Will start soon, just waiting on the camera to arrive by mail. Leah P.S Another adaptation I made with this cake is use a jelly roll pan, decrease the cooking time to about 20 minutes and voila' you have a cake that serves many more and since it is so rich, you can serve a big crowd!

Celeste said...

@Leah--my Indiana inlaws make Texas Sheet Cake but they insist...strongly and absolutely...with fervor and devotion...that its real name is Texas SHORT Cake.

They will not be persuaded otherwise, so we'll finish out our days at a chocolatey impasse. ;o))))

tracy said...

Thanks for this scrumptious sounding recipe just in time for my daughter's 14th birthday this Saturday. I know what kind of birthday cake she's getting!

Kristen in Alaska said...

I just made this and it is so yummy! There strawberry flavor has a nice balance, not overdone but not so subtle that you have to ask what the cake is flavored with.

And the frosting? It would be good on darn near anything! I'm thinking I could make it with frozen strawberries in winter for gingerbread or banana bread.

Uh oh, just writing about it is making me want some more.

Bria @ West of Persia said...

Love this--a more natural approach to a strawberry cake. Sometimes the simplest things really do taste the best.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Leah--Actually, a lot of people also call it sheath cake. I don't know why, though. And I love its versatility as well. Good luck with the blog--it's a lot of fun!

Heide--Yes, it is! Thank you!

Celeste--Now I've never heard it called that!

Tracy--Happy birthday to your daughter--hope she enjoys the cake!

Kristen--Hurrah! I'm so happy you liked it! And I have to admit that the frosting is also excellent straight out of the bowl with just a spoon.

Bria--I agree completely.

Lee said...

I bought fresh strawberries over a week ago, and since we were not going to be home much, I pitted, washed and dried them and tossed them just like that in a ziplock bag and put them in the freezer. I used them for the recipe and it turned out fabulous. My daughter who hates things "too sweet" said it was perfectly sweet! To the lady in Italy - I always keep a container of the cultured buttermilk powder on hand and use it in baking when I don't have the real thing.

We are the Guerra's! said...

Ohhhh strawberries...we went strawberry picking at Sweet Berry Farms a couple of weeks ago and got about 4 pounds of the juiciest strawberries I've ever had! Next year I'm going to have to get ten pounds to last me through summer ;o)

I completely agree about the sad state of strawberry cake recipes! I use a vegan one from Colleen Patrick Goudeau's Joy of Vegan Baking and it's delightful. A bit oily, but that can be fixed. I'm going to have to try yours now! Yum!

Marina said...

Lisa, I made this cake yesterday afternoon, thus heating up my kitchen to the temperature of the sun, however it was worth it because the cake is scrumptious. I tried adding 3 drops of red food coloring to batter hoping it would turn pink. Well, it turned lavender which, when baked, was slightly gray. I love the bright pink frosting, though, so sweet and tangy and zesty and fresh! BTW, I used a sheet cake pan and baked the cake for 18 minutes - it was perfect!

kenneth said...

that's a really awesome frosting. i had to cut the sugar since i ran out, but i think i might like it better that way! it tasted so fresh and wasn't overly sweet.

the cake tastes really good too. i put them in a muffin tin and baked for about 10 mins until they passed the toothpick test. they look really brown though. any ideas on why that might be?

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Never had a strawberry cake, but this sounds so good with that frosting, I might just have to try!

Le Sigh of a Fashionista said...

OMG. I love strawberry cake! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your grandma's recipe. I'm definitely going to make this ASAP!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lee--So happy you and your daughter enjoyed the recipe!

We are the Guerras--Hope you enjoy it!

Marina--Yes, the color of the cake certainly doesn't scream strawberry but the icing sure does! And good to know your sheet cake pan notes!

Kenneth--I love that muffin idea--will have to try that!

Tasty Eats at Home--The frosting is so good, you almost don't even need a cake!

Le Sigh--You're very welcome!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the OT, but I was hoping someone here might be able to point me in the right direction. I'm looking for a program I could use to add my recipes to on my laptop, that allows me to compile all of them together, and keep track of them. Not looking for something that will provide grocery lists, or such things, just a neat little program that is easy to use.

Mares

nikev said...

I made this 2 nights ago. I followed recipe exactly as far as I can tell. It was delicious. Although, I had a little problem.... cake fell in middle and had to cook a little longer to be done and even the frosting was a bit runny. What could I have done wrong? Seems like it was too moist? I want to make this again (my family LOVED it)but would like to correct next time.

Celeste said...

Lisa, I was horsing around on Chowhound and one thing led to another, and I found this string on using beets to color cakes. It's probably more information than you ever want to know...but the bottom line is the alkaline ingredients in a cake batter will cause the red batter to bake up brown every time. Boo.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:hG_mcdpxR0AJ:chowhound.chow.com/topics/371028+beet+juice+strawberry+recipe&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Weekend Cowgirl said...

Well, this looks like another "winner" recipe. I cannot wait to make it!

Erica Lea said...

I must admit I envy you your fresh strawberries. Our plants have flowers, but it will be a little while before the little red things appear.

Your cake sounds delicious. And the icing is so pretty.

larissa said...

I've just discovered you blog and I am ecstatic! My mom was a lazy cook (and not originally from Texas) so the main time I ate many of these wonderful dishes were at church potlucks (except for ranch style beans, which is what lead me here in the first place.) I can't wait to try this recipe. Strawberry cake was the birthday cake for me, my brother, and cousins but of course it was the jello one. Not that I have a problem with that but this sounds even more delicious!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Celeste--Thanks for the info! I was wondering why it was a brown color.

Weekend Cowgirl--Thanks! Hope you like it!

Erica Lee--And see, I thought we were late in NY. Be patient, they'll be wonderful once they arrive!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Larissa--Welcome! And I have many fine memories of church potlucks. I look forward to seeing you again!

McKay said...

So, I've been stalking your blog a while now - I found it searching for a Texas kolache recipe (which was great, by the way!)

Your recipes taste just like my memories!! It's wonderful! Thank you SO much!

I made this for a friend's party and it was a HUGE hit! First time a whole cake had barely any leftovers (no one wanted to take the last piece).

I think the topping texture varies greatly based on juiciness of strawberries (less juicy, better texture).

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe and my cake fell in the middle. The icing was wonderful. I wanted to try it for a party again, but I don't know what I did wrong, I went by the recipe. I used a 9X13 pan, I thought about trying it again in a jelly roll pain. Do you think that would work?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

McKay--Glad your friends liked it. And I agree about the berries. That's probably why the old recipe calls for Jell-O, it's a controlled substance not subject to nature's inconsistency.

Anon--I'm awfully sorry your cake fell. I'm not sure what happened but you can certainly try baking it in a jelly roll pan. One reader did it with success, she baked it for 18 minutes. Here's more on why cake fall. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-causes-cakes-to-fall.htm

Nishta said...

oh HELL yes. now I know what dessert I am making for Memorial Day!

also, I am thrilled for you to have your days to yourself. and that you are still sharing good stuff with us.

Micki said...

I made this with strawberries we picked this morning and everyone agreed it was great-well all except my son who would rather die than let any type of fruit or vegetable pass through his lips. Thanks for a great recipe! I made this in a jelly roll pan and it worked very well.

Anna said...

The whole cake mix thing is outrageous! I bought a "Cowboy Cookbook" from Bandera in the Hill Country and apparently some cowboys are partial to boxed mixes, too! Geez!

I am trying this recipe this weekend!

Jenevieve said...

Hi, Lisa! I made this last night for a wee lunch party o'er here in Edinburgh. It was amazing! No buttermilk to be found, so I just subbed it out for plain yogurt. Also, I accidentally used lemon extract instead of vanilla in the cake, which was awesome-- so bright!

The cake is so, so moist. Like, dangerously moist. If someone else ha made it, I woul have assumed they swabbed syrub over it. YUM!

Tracy N said...

I made this cake this weekend and it was fantastic! I can't wait to make it again. I did add the strawberry mixture to the frosting little by little to keep it from getting too runny. FANTASTIC recipe! Thanks for creating it.

HoustonMegs said...

Made this weekend and it was AMAZING. People offered to bathe in the frosting - it's THAT good.

Julia said...

hm, i want to make this for my office's may/june birthday party. what do you think of making cupcakes? terrible idea?

i find that people have a harder time keeping their portions in check with a cake, ya know?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nishta--Yeah!

Micki--You're very welcome!

Anna--Ha! I was reading a cookbook from New Mexico that boasted centuries-old Indian recipes, which also included box mixes. Those boxes sure do get around!

Jenevieve--I'll have to try the lemon!

Tracy--You're very welcome, so happy you enjoyed it!

HoustonMegs--I'd certainly bathe in that frosting!

Julia--A friend made cupcakes with it, and said she might have added about 1/4 cup more flour, but other than she didn't change a thing and they were great.

Julia said...

cupcake success! i thought they were fine without the extra flour, but i did kind of strain the strawberries before adding. i baked them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. made about 30, but 26 would be better, bigger cupcakes.

also...they are freakin' good.

jeanology said...

Hi Lisa, I made this cake for my brother's birthday last weekend. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe. It has kept pretty well in the refrigerator all week. Next time I might add a bit of cinnamon to the cake batter to simulate those strawberry frosted animal cookies I used to love as a kid. I can't wait to make this cake again!

masdevallia said...

I've made this cake twice now! DELISH! I dropped the sugar down to less than 2 cups in the icing. It was still sweet and creamy. It would have been too much for me with more. I can't believe how moist this cake is. Even if it's overcooked, which one was, it was still had great mouth feel. A total keeper. Thanks Lisa!!

Lisa K said...

Made this on Monday and everyone LOVED it! Thanks for the recipe!!! I even shared it on my recipe blog. =)

babsincanada said...

strawberry desserts often face this dilemma... just think of that bubblegum pink 'strawberry' ice cream, which has the sweet nostalgia attached but none of the beauty of real strawberry ice cream! i'm so sick of seeing those gelatin-filled, garish pink cakes when i look for a strawberry cake! yours is exactly what i want to make - a cake that is delicate and has REAL FRUIT in it, not some fake-flavoured concoction... thank you so much, i plan to make this as soon as strawbs are in season!

Laura Saffioti said...

I made this cake last night and frosted it today for a bday BBQ. It was a huge success. The cake is moist and not too sweet and the frosting is a pretty pink color with a nice tang from the lime. I would consider omitting the water used with the strawberries in the beginning this might make the frosting firmer.
As is this cake is a winner I will be making it again.

Anonymous said...

I made this cake and it was really really good. The frosting is sweet and refreshing the cake its self is heavenly. Thank you for a non boxed strawberry cake with real strawberries

Anonymous said...

Okay, I haven't made alot of different strawberry cakes but the is the best one I have ever made. The lime in the icing was just perfect. I did add more cream cheese and I used the 1/3 less fat one. I lucked up on finding this website. Thanks for a great receipe.
Carol A
Soddy Daisy, TN

Ron said...

Hi,

Me again! First time making a sheet cake. Followed recipe and used a 9x13 inch pan.

The cake is only a little over an inch tall, is that a normal height or did I do something wrong?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ron--That is normal.

leighmonty said...

Hi, I was thinking of making this. Should it be in a metal or a glass pan? Can it be taken out of the pan to frost?

Lisa, thanks for your recipes. We've enjoyed all of them!

Leigh M.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Leigh--I usually bake it in a metal pan, and I've never taken it out of the pan to frost though I reckon you could try it.

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