Shortbread with Fleur de Sel
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, cookbook authors and founders of Baked NYC, use a sprinkling of fleur de sel to update a traditional shortbread recipe that Matt’s Scottish grandmother used to make for him. They advise paying careful attention to the butter for the best results. It should be cool, but not directly out of the refrigerator, and it should be cubed rather than cut into irregular chunks.
- 4 sticks (1 lb./500 g) cool but not cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. (8 oz./250 g) superfine sugar, or 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs. (17 1/2 oz./545 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) rice flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tbs. fleur de sel
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat again just until incorporated, about 2 minutes. In 2 additions, using a wooden spoon or the lowest speed on your mixer, stir in 3 1/2 cups (17 oz./530 g) of the all-purpose flour and all of 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 Tbs. flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is uniform. Do not overwork it. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls, then shape them into disks, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dust a work surface with flour. Working with 1 piece of chilled dough at a time while leaving the others in the refrigerator, roll a disk into a round slightly less than 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. 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. Bake the shortbreads just until they begin to brown, 17 to 22 minutes.
Set the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before transferring the shortbreads to the rack to cool completely. The shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011)