Bourbon Is The Unexpected Ingredient For Amping Up Banana Bread

Looking to amp up your banana bread?  Look no further than your liquor cabinet and pull out that bottle of bourbon. While we typically turn to this classic loaf to use up ripe bananas, there's no rule saying banana bread can't get more cozy and exciting with a little help from booze. 

With its rich, complex flavors, bourbon can elevate the humble banana bread to a gourmet level.  Bourbon is a distilled spirit with notes of vanilla, caramel, oak, nuts, and smokiness. These flavors harmonize beautifully with the natural sweetness of ripe bananas. Thus, bourbon will add warmth, a little spice, and depth, transforming moist and tender banana bread with a touch of indulgence. Plus, you can skip adding expensive vanilla extract into the batter when you splash in bourbon instead. 

Note that you won't taste much booze in the bourbon-infused banana bread as most of the alcohol will dissipate in the hot oven. So if you're looking for a more robust, boozy flavor, we recommend adding a bourbon-infused glaze or frosting to your banana bread after it's baked. Alternatively, if you're not yet fully committed to the idea, you can control your intake better by making a bourbon-infused butter spread. 

Add bourbon directly to banana bread batter

Some bakers will tell you to heat the bourbon in a saucepan first, then let it cool before incorporating it into the bread batter. This sweats off the alcohol and will intensify the flavor. Banana bread takes a while to bake, so we recommend adding the bourbon directly to the wet ingredients of the banana bread batter. This approach is akin to making traditional old-fashioned whiskey cakes, ensuring that the bread retains the subtle nuances of the distilled spirit. As the bread bakes, the alcohol content will mostly evaporate, as mentioned, leaving behind the rich and warm notes of the bourbon.

Don't have bourbon on hand? Don't worry. You can reach for two other spirits: dark rum or Japanese whisky. Like bourbon, dark rum brings a complex flavor profile to your banana bread. It's known for its rich, sweet notes of molasses and hints of spice, which can add a delightful depth to your banana bread. Japanese whisky is smooth and has notes that mirror those of bourbons: caramelly smokiness, along with hints of sweetness and floral tastes.

If you don't have any of these spirits, drizzle banana bread with bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup. This syrup adds a pleasing oaky complexity. It's a quick fix if you don't have bourbon handy for baking. But if you do have bourbon, adding it to your banana bread will make each slice a multi-layered and luxurious sensation.