By Angela McRae, The Shopper Kitchen

Some of my earliest Christmas memories are of going to Atlanta to shop at both Davison’s and Rich’s. I sure miss them. I love this country’s old department stores and have made a hobby of researching recipes from their restaurants and tearooms.

While I’ve yet to find a recipe from Davison’s, I have made the fruit salad, chicken salad, cheese straws, and coconut cake from Rich’s. The cake is never as good as it was from the Rich’s Bake Shop, though, because as the saying goes, “You can’t compete with a memory.”

So instead I’m creating new memories and trying new recipes from other department stores. One of the best is a Christmas recipe from an old department store in Cleveland, Ohio, the Halle Brothers Company. You know the beautiful Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry? She was named after this department store. And curiously enough, when she was in college, she worked for the Cleveland store that was one of Halle Brothers’ competitors, the Higbee Company. That would be like naming your son Davison and having him go to work for Rich’s, I suppose.

(The Higbee department store, by the way, is where little Ralphie in A Christmas Story first lusted over that Red Ryder BB gun in the window, so tuck that in your cap in case you’re ever on Jeopardy!)

But it was Halle Brothers who made my day by publishing a book of their store’s favorite recipes in 1999, and I happily snagged a copy on eBay. Since I adore the tart flavor of cranberries, I had to try the Halle’s Cranberry Bread, which is now one of my favorite Christmas treats.

I bake this Cranberry Bread in mini loaves and give it as gifts. You can bake this recipe in 3 x 5-inch loaf pans to share with several friends, or for one deluxe gift, bake it in a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and tie it up with a pretty tea towel and ribbon as a gorgeous gift from your kitchen.

And from my kitchen to yours, Merry Christmas!

Halle’s Cranberry Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh cranberries, cut in halves

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In separate large bowl, combine juice, orange zest, shortening, boiling water and egg. Add dry ingredients to the liquid ones and blend just until combined. Add pecans and cranberries and mix well. Pour into pan (or pans) prepared with cooking spray. Allow batter to stand for 20 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (Bake for only 50 minutes if you’re baking mini loaves.) Yields 1 large loaf or 3 mini loaves.