For his birthday in mid-June, I wanted to play around with my basic banana bread recipe, one that had been passed down to me from my mother-in-law.
My first area of experimentation was the flour. Usually whole wheat flour makes breads more dense. To preserve the texture and rising properties of familiar recipes, I only swap 50 percent of white flour for whole wheat flour. I wondered how whole wheat pastry flour would fare in this recipe. Whole wheat pastry flour has a lower protein content and is milled more finely than traditional whole wheat flour. I opted to use 100 percent whole wheat pastry flour in my recipe.
The other change was to add bourbon. Banana bread is quite sweet, and I like to add chocolate chips, too. I hoped the slight bite of the bourbon would help offset the sweetness.
I baked one loaf for my dad and sent it off to him. I had no idea how it tasted. He gave his stamp of approval, so I baked another loaf to sample. It was fantastic. You really can’t tell it has whole wheat flour. There are so many other flavors – bourbon, banana, chocolate – that the slight nuttiness of the wheat flour fades away. Thanks to the fineness of the pastry flour, the loaf rose just as high and was just as tender as a traditional all-purpose flour loaf.
When my wife tasted this bread she said it was “banana bread for adults.” The flavor of the bourbon is definitely present (but don’t hesitate to serve it to children; the alcohol bakes off). The banana flavor comes first and the bourbon flavor arrives as you swallow.
I think I’ll save adding bourbon to my banana bread for special occasions. I’m switching to using whole wheat pastry flour from now on.
- 1 cup smashed bananas (about 2 large)
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Step 4. Stir together the mashed bananas and bourbon. Add the banana mixture, walnuts and chocolate chips to the batter, folding it all together. Fold gently yet thoroughly – you want the bananas to be well mixed into the batter.
Step 5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.