First, timing is everything. Pumpkin pie must be made at oh-dark-hundred the night before the meal it accompanies. You do not do this at a time when normal humans (or the children) walk the earth. If werewolves aren't howling at the moon, give it another hour.
This is for three reasons:
1) If you make it, they will eat it. Now! Not after the dinner when you want it. The only way to foil them is to bake late and store securely. A decommissioned missile silo works well if available. I get by with a bank vault and a pirate's lair with lots of traps.
2) You will never have time to do it earlier that same day due to the aforementioned children and all the other dreck you have to get together.
3) Tomorrow you are going to have a velociraptor taking up the oven for nine hours, remember? I assure you, the only other thing that's going to fit is just enough of your hand to burn the heck out of it while basting.
Second, you must have your kitchen ready. This activity cannot occur in a clean kitchen with counter space. I don't know why. It's a mystery. I just know that I've never had a bake turn out properly if I started out with a spotless kitchen. Besides, with the kids doing the dishes this is a mythological event.
Now you must assemble all your ingredients. This recipe makes four desert pies, and three breakfast tarts. Put the things you assemble into three stacks.
- four cups of sugar, plus an indeterminate scoop because that doesn't look like enough
- 10 grinds on the nutmeg grinder
- a palm of salt
- a palm of ginger
- a palm of allspice
- half a palm-full of cloves
- four palms of cinnamon
- several random shakes and grinds from the spice jars listed above because it doesn't look right
- eight eggs
- 2 large cans pumpkin (not that mix stuff)
- four 12 oz. cans evaporated milk
- four regular pie pans dressed with crust (Pillsbury only if minions have been particularly evil or kitchen in particularly advanced state of higgeldy-piggeldy)
- three of the holes in the mini-loaf pan dressed with crust
- 75 foot roll of Reynolds Wrap, of which you only need about a foot right now
- Three beers; two root and one stout
- half recipe worth of banana bread batter
Now it's time to start putting it all together. After you've washed the large mixing bowl from making the pie crust, open a root beer and put Stack 1 ingredients into the bowl, dry stuff first, then eggs. Beat senseless with rubber spatula. Add Stack 2. Beat senseless again with rubber spatula. Pour brown mess still left in bowl (not the part that's spattered all over heck-and-gone) into the pie pans and the crusted mini-loaf pans. Cover edges of crust with strips of tinfoil, struggling manfully to not poke it into the mousse-part so it bakes in there like that. Fill un-clad mini-loaf pans with half-way with banana bread batter.
Remember you forgot to turn on oven, so read pumpkin can to see temp. Giggle at their dumb theatrics about preheating and that whole one-temp-for-15-minutes-and-then-turn-down gig. Set oven to happy medium and then remember it's witch-tit cold outside tonight so turn it up another five degrees.
Put first two pies in immediately on the center rack with a baking sheet on the lower rack to diffuse heat and to make sure any spills are deflected directly onto the heating element while still baking into an evil black metallic object on the sheet. Consume root beer, read book, and shoo house-apes back into bed at random intervals for 55 minutes. Spend five minutes trying to find a safe spot to lay down book and figure out what kids did with hot-pads. Remove first two pies carefully from oven and place on cooling rack.
Put second two pies in their place in the oven. Open second root beer. Repeat last baking experience, only watch for smoke coming out of oven from baking sheet getting too hot to deal with the spills. Move cooled pies on rack to bank vault. Remove pies and baking sheet from oven. Pies go on rack, baking sheet goes across burners of stove-top where it can properly singe your eyebrows for next step.
Place mini-loaf pan in oven with the banana bread towards the front where the oven is cooler. Open stout. Continue to bake at exactly the same temp with a blithe disregard for the directions for about half an hour (give or take a page). While this is baking, do dishes and clean up counters and start doing any other prep work possible for tomorrow and consume the beer.
Remove cooled pies from rack and place them in pirate's cave (diversification is good in baking, too). Open the oven and (once you are done wincing away from the steam-burns on your corneas) poke banana bread with toothpick. If done, remove and shut off oven and place on cooling rack and leave to cool while chopping vegetable, measuring ingredients, and whatnot for other recipes to be actually cooked tomorrow.
When cool, move pan and put the cooling rack across top of loaf-pan face-down. Using a towel to hold it all together, turn as one unit and leave until the tarts fall out of their own accord. You will be able to see this clearly because the pan is stilted up on the banana bread's tops. Then pick up the pan and "help" the banana bread out by dint of gentle nudging and the occasional poke/lever with a plastic knife to free any stuck spots.
By this time, beer will be done and so will you. Cover three loaves of banana bread and the three tarts with a kitchen towel to decoy the kids in the morning and hit the sack. Set alarm clock for six for humor's sake.
Remember, tomorrow's the big day! ;)