I have scottish roots. My paternal grandmother was originally from a small town just outside of Edinburgh, and she was steadfast in defending Scottish cuisine to her American children and grandchildren. It was not an easy battle. Her haggis, the classic Scottish dish made of many interior sheep parts, while probably the best haggis ever made, rarely won support or adulation at our family dinner table. But Grandma was persistent. She cooked through a veritable catalog of Scottish dishes before finally winning us over with mountains of classic, buttery, crispy shortbread. It was her mother’s recipe, and she baked it with devotion. I grew to accept shortbread as part of the American cookie spectrum. The original recipe calls for an egg yolk to be spread over the rolled out dough and folded in gently by overlapping the dough into the egg. The idea is very interesting, but I still opted for the standing mixer route. Otherwise, the recipe is as written almost eighty years ago (the fleur de sel is my addition).
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat again just until incorporated, about 2 minutes. In two additions, using a wooden spoon or the absolute lowest speed on your mixer, stir in 3½ cups of the all-purpose flour and all the rice flour, just until incorporated. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and stir just until combined. If the dough looks too wet, fold in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is uniform. Do not overwork it. Divide the dough into eight equal balls, then shape them into disks, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Working with one piece of chilled dough at a time while leaving the others in the refrigerator, roll a disk into a slightly less than ½-inch round. Cut the round into wedges like a pizza.
Prick the top of the shortbread with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel over the surface. Transfer the cookies to a prepared baking sheet.
Set the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before transferring the shortbreads to the rack to cool completely.
Shortbread will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 5 days.
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