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  • Melissa Orquiza

Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake, The Science of Curiosity, The Goldberg Variations

Fall is here. Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake. Here's to creating your zen.

Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake.

Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake, The Science of Curiosity, A 19 Year Study on Kindergarten Students & College Degrees

Originally Published Oct 12, 2022

Sometimes, I feel like a running joke. I’ve always run in pretty socially conservative circles (surprise!) and it always cracks me up when people ask me what I do. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of run ins with hilariously, eccentric musicians (myself included) … but honestly, I think you’d have to have a screw loose to practice at least 40,000 hours to be proficient at your instrument to have a tiny shot of making a decent living- not to mention the years away from your friends and family either at the studio, playing concerts, or on tour. With most world class musicians, it’s more like 50,000 to 80,000 hours. Chances are, when you go the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl or watch the LA Phil, the musicians behind the scenes and onstage are not only great, but likely, amongst the best in the world. It’s like going to Glastonbury or Coachella. But, irregardless of what genre of music you’re playing or creating, hanging out with other musicians can be like an amazing party or an awkward first date.

Writing or closely collaborating with someone intimately, definitely feels like an awkward first date. You don’t want to step on each others’ toes. You’re super polite. You don’t want to be offensive. Don’t try too hard but at least put on an effort. Who’s picking up the food? You’re not sure if this relationship will pan out longterm. Are you both just having fun? Will they move on to the next writer? Can this person read my mind and can I read his? Why is this taking so long to get ideas out? Why is this so short? Are they ok? Can we make this feel good? If it’s awful, how do I pleasantly end this jam session without hurting their feelings? It’s alot of personal subtext that really can’t be taught but only experienced. I feel like playing in a large group is very similar. You can usually read people’s expressions and see whether they’re cooperative or just having a really crappy day. (With some musicians, it’s like a perpetual, crappy mood.) So many personalities and egos… and don’t forget the at least 40,000 to 80,000 hours of practice (and it’s repercussions) for a tiny shot.

This past week, like many people nowadays, I’ve had a very difficult time processing what is happening around me. Between the rising crime and violence, residual economic and psychological effects from the pandemic lockdowns, and the political hypocrisy with both parties, this collective state of uneasiness is (unfortunately), getting worse. I’d like to think my strongest traits are resilience and my sense of humor. (I can usually get most people to laugh… usually at my own expense). It’s a double edged, symbiotic sword, nurtured and hardened by years of grime and hope (life in the arts) … but I also know now, my biggest priority, is to protect that sense of crackball humor, happiness, and most of all, joy for the sake of my family and the community around me.

We all turn to our different forms of comfort. My default, was always to acquire more knowledge but most especially in this current state of affairs, when the unreasonable overrides the logical out of desperation, no amount of statistical data can predict the torrent of apathy, violence, or (I’d like to hope) service in order to stabilize our feelings of security. When honestly, I’d prefer to shut myself off from the world and just practice or read, the importance of showing up and trying to make a person laugh might be all I can do to alleviate the uncertainty around all of us. On that note, here are two articles contrasting the paradigm of knowledge and service. What constitutes the science of curiosity? Finally, what are the two traits that most accurately predicted whether or not a kindergartner would attend college? (Hint: Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with acquired textbook knowledge). Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Melissa

Paradigm 1: The Science of Curiosity

The 'Why' Behind Asking Why: The Science of Curiosity

Paradigm 2: Emotional and Social Intelligence. (Another reason why music education is so important. Here’s to the benefits of playing and creating music.).

A 19-Year Study Reveals Kindergarten Students With These 2 Skills Are Twice as Likely to Obtain a College Degree (and They Have Nothing to Do With Reading)

Finally, Fall does not feel complete to me without Bach. Here's my go to, whenever I need some comfort. Your welcome.

Lang Lang - Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria

Here's Lang - Lang with lots of embellishment on the Goldberg Aria. You're welcome. Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Melissa

Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake

Here's the original link. Enjoy!


8 Servings

9 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided, plus more for pan

1½ cups apple cider

½ cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp. (172 g) all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. (15 g) cornstarch

1¼ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more

1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, divided

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup (200 g) sugar, divided


1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°. Lightly butter an 8½x4½" or 9x5" loaf pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both long sides. Bring cider to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until cider is reduced to ¾ cup, 8–10 minutes. Pour ¼ cup reduced cider into a small measuring glass or bowl and set aside. Transfer remaining reduced cider to a small bowl and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and vanilla and set aside.

2. Melt 8 Tbsp. butter in same saucepan (no need to clean) over low heat. Let cool slightly.

3. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon, and ¼ tsp. nutmeg in a medium bowl to combine.

4. Vigorously whisk eggs and ¾ cup (150 g) sugar in a large bowl until pale, voluminous, and frothy, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add melted butter in a steady stream; continue to whisk until fully combined and emulsified (no spots of fat should remain). Reserve saucepan.

5. Whisk dry ingredients into egg mixture in 3 additions, alternating with reserved sour cream mixture in 2 additions; whisk just until no lumps remain. Batter will be thin.

6. Scrape into pan and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until deep golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 60–80 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and poke top of cake all over with a toothpick. Spoon 3 Tbsp. reserved reduced cider over; let cool 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, mix a big pinch of salt, remaining ¼ cup (50 g) sugar, ½ tsp. cinnamon, and ¼ tsp. nutmeg in a small bowl. Melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in reserved saucepan and mix into remaining 1 Tbsp. reduced cider.

8. Using parchment paper, lift cake onto rack and set rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Peel away parchment from sides. Brush warm butter mixture over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture to coat every surface (use parchment to help rotate cake and collect any excess sugar). Remove parchment and let cool completely before slicing.

Do ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

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