How A Whiskey Glaze Can Elevate Your Bread Recipes

Reaching for booze may not be your first instinct when placing bread into the oven, but you may want to consider swiping your next carby creations with a splash of liquid gold. Chefs have been washing crusts with whiskey to add flavor and texture to soda bread, arán spíosraí (spice bread), cinnamon pull-apart bread, and hearty loaves of sourdough. Yes, the ingredient to help you make better-tasting bread might be hiding in a bottle, and it's time to get on the whiskey-washing bandwagon.

Whisky and bread are made using similar ingredients: wheat, barley, and rye. Just ask Chef Mark Donald, who is in charge of the Michelin-starred restaurant inside Scotland's oldest whiskey distillery and crowns bread with ingredients found at the distillery. As told to Tasting Table, Donald heats malted barley water — a process similar to the way in which whiskey is made — until the liquid forms a molasses-like syrup. After mixing the reduction with butter and beer, Donald swipes the wash onto the crust of bread loaves to crystallize and create a crunchy exterior. Irish spice bread is made in a similar fashion, yet the combination of butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and Irish whiskey that is piped onto baked bread results in a breaded treat sweet enough to be confused with cake.

When whiskey can flavor your toast

Baking loaves with whiskey can invite new aromas into familiar bread recipes, and notes of smoke, herbs, and honey can enliven crusts. Some chefs pour whiskey directly into the dough, aiming to make whiskey-infused slices that are perfect for toasted cheese sandwiches and to serve with scrambled eggs and avocado mash. 

For those who enjoy sweeter pieces of bread, whiskey glaze can complement cinnamon-sugar recipes. Think of fluffy cinnamon rolls drizzled with glazes made from powdered sugar, whiskey, and cream – a recipe perfect to offer for boozy brunches. Soda bread can also be upgraded with whiskey washes. Simply whisk equal parts whiskey and milk and brush loaves before baking. 

When making your washes, opt for fuller, rounder whiskeys or experiment with independent labels to impart unique flavors into your baked goods. If you're worried about serving besotted loaves to guests, rest assured that a good portion of alcohol will be cooked out of your bread, leaving only subtle tastes behind. As an added baking bonus, whiskey that isn't used in your recipes can be served as a dram later on. Beer bread, take a seat; whiskey bread is here to play.