Make the lemon curd and crust in advance and you’ll eliminate any stress associated with entertaining. (Use Meyer lemons for the curd if you can find them.) Top with whipped cream to soften the delicious tartness of the curd filling.

Lemon Tart

Yield: One 9-inch tart, enough for about 8 servings Time: About 30 minutes with all the components prepared
SWEET TART CRUST
11/4 cups flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick very cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus butter for greasing
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if necessary

LEMON CURD
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 egg yolks
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar

WHIPPED CREAM
1 cup cream
Up to 1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Make the tart crust:

1. Use a food processor to pulse together the our, sugar, and salt to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it has the texture of cornmeal. If you’re making the dough by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl; then, use your fingertips, 2 knives or forks, or a pastry cutter to mash the butter into the our mixture.

2. Add the egg yolk and pulse to combine (or use a fork to incorporate it), then pulse in the ice water, adding more ice water as necessary, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it until it’s just combined and smooth.

3.Heat the oven to 425°F. Gently press the dough into a generously buttered tart pan, being sure to tuck it into the corners. Trim the dough even with the top of the pan. Freeze the crust in the pan for 20 minutes before baking. To roll out the dough instead, form the dough into a disk and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Dust a clean work surface with a large pinch of our. Add the dough and sprinkle just a bit more our over it. Use a rolling pin to firmly and evenly roll the dough, starting in the center and working outward, rotating a quarter-turn each time to make an even circle. If the dough is too stiff, let it rest for a few minutes. Sprinkle a bit of our on the dough and rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking.

4. When the dough circle is about 2 inches larger than the tart pan and less than 1/8 inch thick, it’s ready. Roll the dough up halfway onto the pin so it’s easy to move, then center it over the pie plate and unroll it into place. Press the dough into the contours of the pan without squishing or stretching it. Trim the excess dough even with the top of the pan. Put the tart pan in the fridge for about 30 minutes or freeze for at least 10 minutes, until the crust feels cool to the touch, before filling or prebaking.

5. Be sure the crust is pressed firmly into the pan, pricked all over with a fork, and well chilled before baking; the fork pricks and hardened butter in the dough will help the crust keep its shape. Butter one side of a piece of foil large enough to cover the crust; press the foil onto the crust, butter side down. Scatter your weights in an even layer over the foil and bake for 12 minutes; remove the weights and foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking the crust until it starts to develop a golden brown color, another 10 minutes or so. Cool completely.

Make the lemon curd:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking almost constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 175° to 180°F. Don’t let it boil. (There will be a thick coating on the back of a spoon.)

2. While still hot, pour the curd through a strainer and let cool a bit. In an airtight container, this will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Make the whipped cream:

1. Use a whisk or an electric mixer to beat the cream to the desired texture. To check this, dip the whisk or beater into the cream and pull up to see if it forms soft and stiff peaks.

2. Once the cream is whipped to the consistency you like, gradually fold in the sugar if you’re using it. It’s best to use fresh whipped cream immediately since it will start to “weep,” or separate, but you can cover and refrigerate it for a few hours without much trouble.

Assemble the tart:

1. Fill the tart with the lemon curd to the top of the edge and smooth it gently. Allow the curd to set at room temperature, then top with whipped cream if you like. Serve chilled or at room temperature.