One of the specialty things I only make at Christmas (besides Irish cream, of course!) is shortbread. The secret ingredients to rich and flaky shortbread is butter (no substitutes!) and rice flour. Rice flour is pretty easy to find in most grocery stores. Shortbread has only four ingredients: flour, rice flour, sugar, and butter. I'm not milking Matilda right now, so I used store-bought butter.
Mix the butter and sugar together. I soften the butter in the microwave then mix it by hand. You don't need an electric mixer when making shortbread.
Mix the flour and rice flour together.
Then cut the two sets of ingredients together.
If the butter is soft enough you can use a spoon, otherwise you'll have to use your hands.
With regular shortbread (meaning, just flour, butter, and sugar), you can shape the dough however you like for baking. Some people make large rectangles and later cut them into finger-shaped pieces. Others make a large circle and cut it into pie-shaped wedges. Since this particular recipe has rice flour, it's much more flaky than regular shortbread and so won't hold up if you bake it in large shapes. So I just make small balls and gently flatten them with my palm. The cookies tend to spread out as they bake, so I don't put more than six per sheet.
Watch the shortbread like a hawk when it's in the oven because it's easy to overbake. Everyone's ovens are different so I can't give a precise baking time. In my oven, the cookies take 13 to 14 minutes. Yes, it's that precise. Much longer, and the edges get too brown. These turned out juuuuust a hair browner than I wanted, but not bad.
The cookies are very fragile, so don't manhandle them too much. I like to let them cool on the cookie sheets for a couple minutes to harden up, then gently transfer them to a cooling rack.
Here's some of the completed batches. These are given to friends and neighbors for a buttery treat.
Here's the recipe:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
Mix butter and sugar by hand (soften the butter if need be) until sugar is dissolved. Separately, mix flour and rice flour together, then add to the butter mixture and knead until dough resembles short crust. Bake at 350F.
I octupled the recipe and ended up with about eight or nine dozen batches (I lost count). The recipe multiplies very well.