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  • Melissa Orquiza

Pumpkin Cranberry Brioche, Why We Love the “Grinch”, A Motown Christmas & Brahms

Pumpkin Cranberry Brioche. Perfect for the holidays, warm and snuggly with butter. Pairs well with aggressive foods (and the "Grinch" in your life!)

Pumpkin Cranberry Brioche, Why We Love the “Grinch”, A Motown Christmas & Brahms

(Originally Published 12/11/2020 ish)

Like so many people, I love and hate the holidays. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve often put so much pressure on myself to recreate the “perfect” holiday, that the overwhelming stress of unattainable realism has often belied the truths of everyday happiness. (Yes. Even in my twenties, I was that girl that bought decorations and cooked until there was no tomorrow, to show my love.) So, as much as I like “Rudolph” and the magical feelings that come with holiday decor, I also remember the darker truths - commercialism, dependence of world economies on the season, governments secretly vying for a “holiday” opening, manipulation of the Libor rates that we’re still reeling from, families unable to see each other (or refusal to see each other), and the painful reality that the world keeps moving forward whether or not you can adjust to its progress. (Obviously, I relish progress and adaptability... even though it sometimes, seems bizarre and out of context.)

So, like any self respecting artist - type, crafting the beauty out of strangeness, it is both a joy and relief, knowing that regardless of how you and I feel, we do have an element of control in how we behave and react. Making something beautiful is a happy necessity, hopefully eliciting a sense of respite, from whatever crazy is being thrown at you. (I think 2020 is the year of crazy being thrown at everyone! Lol!)

Since the holiday season isn’t complete without a grumpy pants with self-esteem and relationship issues, here’s a list of why we love the “Grinch.” Unfortunately, I’ve had the wonderful talent of attracting the most ornery, complaining, unhappy types (that JUST WON’T STOP! OMG! Maybe it’s because I let them complain without judgement, smile, then crack a joke. Empathy can be really exhausting. Maybe the “Grinch” is an energy vampire! OMG! I attract energy vampires! Wait, since I'm writing about it in a self - reflexive way, does that make me one?) Either way, here’s to pacifying and laughing at the “Grinches” around us or the inner “Grinch” in you and ENJOYING the happiness around us. (I hope my daughter doesn’t attract energy vampires when she gets older… Lol!)

Why the "Grinch" is so relatable. My favorite is “being terrible at small talk.” That’s why I try to make people laugh! Universal in every language.

The Grinch is So Relatable

Oh Brahms. You’re the snuggly feeling I associate with the happiest of holidays, people, and memories. Here’s the Brahms, Intermezzo in A, Op. 118, (you know, the one every pianist is obsessed with). It’s a dose of warm, comfort… not unlike a simple, lyric song, structurally but obviously finessed with extended harmonies and resolutions… Simple and complex? Yes, please! Here's Emanuel Ax's, exquisite interpretation (and unfortunately, not on Spotify.)

Emanuel Ax - J. Brahms/ Intermezzo in A - opus 118

Like silk…

Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer - The Temptations


Merry Christmas Baby - Kenny Burrell, Richard Evans

And more happiness!

Christmas Blues - Ramsey Lewis Trio

Thanks for reading! I hope this pacifies whatever “Grinch” is throwing your way or your own inner “Grinch”. (Mine just wants to be fed, work hard, and snuggle with creature comforts. Food, music, and laughter? Yes, please!) Or better yet, help you refocus on your own happiness and the lucky few, your presence graces! Have a great week! Xo, Melissa

Pumpkin Cranberry Brioche. Aww yeah! You can do this and marvel at your awesomeness! (Just for reference, I made and took this picture a few years ago when my daughter was just starting solid foods. If I did this after having a kid and still working, you can too.)

Pumpkin Cranberry Brioche

I added 1 egg yolk and raw sugar for a glaze while baking. (I like it when it looks sparkly.)

The pumpkin and nutmeg flavor is not overpowering...very subtle and good for people who don’t like pumpkin spice. Great with coffee and high quality butter. Really classy and subtle for the holidays and pairs well with more aggressive things (or people!)


1 cup canned pumpkin purée, divided

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon mace

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1/2 cup pumpkin purée with the butter, pumpkin pie spice, and mace. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.

  2. Scrape off any mixture that’s clinging to the paddle into the bowl, then remove the paddle and screw on a dough hook attachment. Add the remaining pumpkin purée, along with the flour, cranberries, milk, eggs, sugar, yeast, and salt.

  3. Mix on low speed until the mixture forms a smooth ball of dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 15 minutes. The dough should be stiff.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat it with oil. Cover and leave the dough in a warm area until doubled in size, about 2 1/2 hours.

  5. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log. Place each loaf in a loaf pan. Cover with a dry cloth and let stand in a warm spot for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

  6. Bake the loaves until golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. The loaves should sound when gently tapped. Let cool for 1 hour. Yields 2 loaves. Enjoy!

#pumpkincranberrybrioche, #thegrinch, @brahms, #brahmsintermezzoinA, @thetemptations, #rudolphtherednosereindeer, @kennyburrell, @richardevans, #merrychristmasbaby, @ramseylewistrio, #christmasblues

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