black and spotty

Banana Bread

Isn’t it interesting that some things in life are better off absolutely fresh:  a perfectly plump red strawberry in a pint at a Saturday farmer’s market in June;  a french baguette that is still just a little warm to the touch; pan roasted brussels sprouts topped with some shaved parm; a mug of french press made with Intelligentsia beans that were roasted just the day before.  But bananas?  Give them to me black and spotted and just this side of being truly rotted.

March 6th

Every week or two, I pick up a bunch of bananas that I stick in my fruit bowl on my dining table with the plan of letting them rot. Sure, I might have one sliced on top of a Kashi waffle with peanut butter before a Saturday morning long run or mixed into a pot of oatmeal, but bananas are best saved for banana bread.

Banana Bread Mosaic

I have actually made two different batches of banana bread in the last week or so. One was a classic recipe that I stumbled on over at Whipped and the second took a little more searching through my go to blogs after finally settling on this boozy version from my favorite Russian.

Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread

I have only recently started liking anything in the bourbon/whisk(e)y family after a bad night in college at a Fraternity formal involving Jack Daniels but I am so glad that I have found Maker’s Mark. I picked up a bottle on a whim after seeing it pop up on other blogs and I am so glad that I did. Maker’s isn’t as harsh (at least to me) as other bourbons and it is really delicious mixed with some root beer or used to soak raisins for Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream (which I will share with you one day if I manage to take a good picture, which didn’t happen the first time around). This relevation has allowed to hit up a very whiskey focused Chicago hot spot and actually order, and enjoy, a cocktail that was *gasp* made with whiskey.

Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread

This is a long winded way of saying, that I am no longer scared of a recipe with “bourbon” in the title and that I am so glad that I tried this recipe because it really made a wonderful batch of banana bread.  I made both recipes in my new mini-loaf pans that I am really loving.  The bread bakes faster, it is easier to give away a loaf or two, or to freeze and really, mini anything is just better.  Give either or both of these recipes a try when you are lucky enough to have a bunch of rotting bananas on your hands.

Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread

I used walnuts in both of these recipes because they were what I had on hand and I find that walnuts pair well with bananas but feel free to use whatever nut you enjoy, or leave them out. You should toast your nuts first to bring out their flavor. I toast my walnuts by spreading them out on a baking sheet and sticking them in the preheating oven for 10-15 mins, checking them every 5 mins until they start to smell nutty.

Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from Sassy Radish (printable recipe)

I used spelt flour in this recipe because I picked up some interesting flours for a book I received to review and I enjoyed it in this bread, but feel free to use whatever flour you have on hand.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
3-5 overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups; I used 5 smallish sized ones because I had them and wanted to use them up)
1/4 cup buttermilk (or feel free to use yogurt or sour cream; whatever you have on hand)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp bourbon; preferably Maker’s Mark
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray the mini loaf pans (or standard loaf pan) with vegetable spray or lightly oil.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl.

In a separate medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on high speed until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, bananas, buttermilk, vanilla and bourbon and stir to mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and stir just until the flour is moist and no longer visible. Don’t over-mixing. Fold in the toasted walnuts

Divide the batter evenly into the mini loaf pans and smooth out the top. I got 4 pans filled with this batch. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean and the top is browned. I would start checking at 25 to be safe.

Let the bread cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool. Have a slice when it is still warm if you like.

Classic Banana Bread with Walnuts
Recipe adapted from Whipped (printable recipe)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed; about 1 cup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, then chopped

Grease and flour loaf pans. I used 3 mini loaf pans and it would probably make a full standard loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Mix in the slightly beaten eggs and mashed bananas. Slowly stir in the melted butter just until incorporated. Fold in the toasted walnuts. Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for about 30 mins if using mini pans and 45-50 minutes with a standard pan. When the loaves are starting to brown, they are done. Use a toothpick to make sure there is no raw batter in the center but be careful to not overbake. There is nothing worse than dry banana bread. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Still looking for more?  I have two more banana bread recipes here and here.

6 responses to “black and spotty

  1. Man, are ya reading my mind? I actually have 4 dark brown bananas in the freezer…. i really need to do something with them, but since i haven’t had the time i threw them in there for safekeeping. the bourbon bread seems awesome, and i actually JUST started liking bourbon for the exact same reason as you – AND recently had a great drink at another bourbon hot spot across the street from your bourbon hot spot. crazy! will let you know if i try it out though 🙂

  2. Sassy Radish’s recipe has been my go-to for the last year exactly because of my love for both bananas and bourbon. So glad that your warming up to this minxy little liquid and it totally brings out a brown butter quality in the bread. Delicious.

    Related: I too adore the Violet Hour but as you get deeper into your bourbon and whiskey explorations, I’m adding four other bars to your list. Big Star (across from VH) has a great selection and tasty tacos. Longman & Eagle is brand new in Logan Square but awesome. Bar DeVille in Uke Village for VH-quality cocktails with a little less fanfare. And the award for best selection goes to The Southern. They have some hard to come by bottles and some excellent noshing as well.


  3. We both have bananas on the brain! 🙂

    I’m not a big bourbon fan either, but posted a chocolate bourbon bundt cake awhile back that is quite tasty. You might want to try it out!

    Love the idea of bananas and bourbon, or perhaps a banana and rum bread inspired by the classic NOLA dessert, bananas foster. Yum!

  4. Jessica: Thank you for your suggestions. I have heard good things about Big Star and Longman & Eagle but not the other two. I am so glad that I am starting to like bourbon as well.

    Andrea: We totally both had bananas on the brain. And bananas foster is amazing. I haven’t had it in SO long.

    Heather: Great minds think alike I guess? I’m glad you are growing to bourbon as well.

  5. I love bourbon and bananas so I may have to try this really soon. Btw, do you think this recipe will work in a regular loaf pan (increasing the baking time?)? I don’t have the mini pans.

  6. Goodness, this looks amazing! I just made David Lebovitz’s banana bread and it was about the yummiest thing ever but an alcoholic version? Yes please!

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