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Why you can (and should) add bourbon right to your banana bread batter without cooking it first

Bourbon alcohol cooks out as banana bread bakes - genius!

Banana bread
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Cooking with booze is one of the best ways to achieve a robust and delicious complexity of flavor. For any number of dishes, we braise, poach, deglaze, and sauce with everything in the liquor cabinet, from wine to tequila to rum, and our food is better for it. And while you may have incorporated beer into your cupcakes or poached pear in a simmering pool of red wine, you may not yet fully appreciate the flavor spirits can bring to baked goods. Banana bread is one of the most delicious, comforting, feels-like-home treats there is, and it’s hard to imagine it getting any better than it already is in its mildly sweet, toasty perfection. Enter bourbon.

It turns out that splashing a bit of bourbon into banana bread batter can take Grandma’s recipe and elevate it to something one might find in an upscale restaurant. Here’s why.

Banana bread
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Why bourbon?

We love bourbon for its complex, spicy, rich, warming flavors. When these flavors are added to banana bread, something magical happens. Banana bread’s sweet, homey flavor gets a sophisticated upgrade that transforms it into something that feels gourmet and special. Bourbon’s notes of caramel, smoke, spice, and oak are perfectly complimentary to banana bread’s warm, natural sweetness. The spirit brings a unique yet fitting depth of additional spice and warmth to one of everyone’s comfort foods.

Of course, those with small ones in the house might be concerned about the addition of alcohol to this sweet treat. Some might take the added step of heating spirits in a saucepan before adding to a recipe, ensuring the alcohol is burned off in the final result. But because banana bread takes so long to bake – usually about an hour – the alcohol has plenty of time to burn off while in the oven. All of the deliciously spicy flavor remains, but none of the intoxicating effects.

However, if you’re looking to punch up the boozy bourbon flavor (and why wouldn’t you?), you can always incorporate more bourbon in the form of frosting or glaze, leaving the spirit completely raw.

Banana bread
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Bourbon banana bread recipe

We absolutely love this banana bread recipe for its nutty warmth and natural sweetness, punctuated by bourbon’s delicious signature spice.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan by greasing it with butter and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Gradually beat in the eggs and bourbon.
  6. Gently fold in the bananas and walnuts until incorporated, and pour mixture into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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