Dole Food Company, Inc. and Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC), a nonprofit committed to providing culinary industry workforce development training and job placement assistance to those facing employment barriers, hosted a bake-off and free public taste test Feb. 21-22 to determine Charlotte’s best banana bread.

CCSC provides culinary training to those impacted by homelessness, poverty, abuse and other issues, and to veterans and others transitioning into civilian life, to encourage self-sufficiency through stable employment in food service. CSSC’s current class, it’s 73rd since its founding in 1997, numbers 23 students. Under the leadership of CCSC executive director Ron Ahlert, known to students as “Chef Ron,” CCSC counts 1,087 graduates.

According to bake-off rules, local residents sampled competing banana bread recipes – one developed by banana-leader Dole and a second created by CCSC students – before casting their vote for their favorite Feb. 21-22 at the CCSC Café. The winning recipe was crowned “Charlotte’s Best Banana Bread” and distributed to media and other groups on Feb. 23, National Banana Bread Day, and made available for sale at the Café on the holiday and beyond.

Loaded Banana Bread

Prep:  10 minutes

Cook:  1 hr 5 minutes

Total Time:  1 hr 15 Minutes

Calories Per Serving:   198

Servings:  10


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1½ cups white whole wheat flour plus additional for dusting
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 medium very ripe DOLE® Bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup almond milk yogurt alternative
  • ¼ cup natural buttery spread with olive oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup crushed pecans


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray; dust bottom and sides of pan with flour.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs in a large bowl; stir in bananas, yogurt, buttery spread and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined; pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with pecans. Bake bread 1 hour 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs and top is golden brown.

Cool bread 10 minutes on a wire rack; run a small knife around edge of pan to loosen and remove bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack; cut into 10 (¾-inch-thick) slices.

Recipe courtesy of Dole Food Company, Inc. and Community Culinary School of Charlotte