This sounds silly, right? I mean, toast is probably one of the first foods you learned to make for yourself as a child. In fact, as I write this my 8-year-old son’s friend is over and laughing at me and giving career advice from the peanut gallery. “Here’s your article: You make toast. Write that a thousand times.” So in the event you can’t make toast, know that somewhere out there a child is laughing at you, and you need to fix that. And so do I, because even though I’m a professional, I still mess up four out of five times. This toast-making lesson is as much for me as it is you.

Step 1: Make sure that your toaster oven is actually on the right setting. 

I keep forgetting that I cook other foods in mine and then get really confused when my toast isn’t toasting, or when it bursts into flames. There is probably a setting on your toaster oven's dial labeled “toast.” That’s the one you want.

If you’ve got one of those regular pop-up toasters that does all the work for you I don’t know why you’re even reading this.  

Step 2: Figure out what to do in the event you threw out your toaster for not working, though now that you’ve read Step 1 you realize it probably was on the wrong setting, and I promise we’ll keep that secret between us, OK?

To use your oven, put your bread directly on the top rack of the oven, throw on the broiler on low and check after one minute. If it’s at the proper degree of toastiness, use tongs to flip it over and do the other side. You can also cook the bread in a dry skillet for a few minutes on each side, but fair warning, this is surprisingly easy to mess up, and you’re the type of person who has to read a how-to guide on making toast, so ask yourself if this is really the best decision for you. 

Step 3: Don’t go anywhere.

Because you will forget that you are making toast. 

Step 4: Shake it off.

Breads always have little errant crumbs and seeds and whatnot that are going to fall off and burn up at the bottom of the toaster. As you’ve seen, I needed to give myself an explicit reminder to set my toaster to “toast.” so I don’t need to put myself in any sort of crisis situation first thing in the morning. 

Step 5: Butter effectively.

You need to do this immediately so you don’t miss your melting window, especially if your butter is cold. Don’t go smearing right away, or else you’ll rip your toast apart. Place a few thinly shaved pats on there, let them melt for a few seconds, then gently glide them across the surface like a glistening golden Nancy Kerrigan. This is also the proper method with thicker spreads like Nutella and peanut butter, but I don’t know any figure skaters that remind me of peanut butter. Maybe Brian Boitano? 

Step 6: Top your toast.

I’m not going to tell you how to put avocado on toast because that’s managed to get so complicated that I’ve begun to doubt my abilities as a both a chef and an adult. How about you guys just go off on your own here and experiment? You’ve come this far already, so maybe you can be trusted.

Step 7: Eat.

Put the toast in your mouth and move your jaw up and down to break it into digestible pieces. Swallow. Repeat.