Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
The Best Toasters Since Sliced Bread
Toasting Great Toast for You
As with any household item I buy I always decide before hand what I want from the product, find the product that meet those expectations and then look for the experiences of others before making my final 'informed' decision.
The same is true for our toaster, so here I aim to share my experience with you, highlight some of the best toasters on the market and look at alternative ways of toasting bread with the intention, from personal experience, to making some recommendations.
So Toast On and Be Happy.
What to Look For in a Toaster
Our first toaster was all plastic on the outside with a slots to toast two slices of bread, a sliding handle on the side to drop the bread down and a simple temperature control knob on the side; with an emergency eject button in the middle of the temperature control knob. Very basic but it did the job and lasted us for years until eventually the element burned out.
In choosing a replacement we wanted a toaster that would toast up to four slices of bread simultaneously. We could have opted for a larger version of what we had before e.g. two slots with each able to fit two slices of bread but we wanted something more substantial.
After doing lots of research and reading customers reviews we opted for a toaster with four slots (for toasting up to four slices of bread) with two duplicate controls, each one controlling two slots; so if you only want to toast one or two slices of bread you only use one side of the toaster (one pair of slots). It also has smaller leavers to raise smaller bread items making it easier to get them out. The control on the left also includes a defroster although I've never used it because even if the bread is frozen it thaws and toasts just as well on the ordinary control settings.
We've used this toaster to our full satisfaction for many years now with no issues so we're well pleased with it; and cleaning is made easier with the pull-out crumbs tray at the bottom to catch all the crumbs so you don't have to go tipping the toaster upside down getting breadcrumbs everywhere when you want to give it a good clean.
Toasting Forks for BBQs
I remember the days of open coal fires when on dark winter nights we would occasionally sit in front of the coal fire in the evening, arm stretched out holding a slice of bread on the end of a toasting fork, to make toast as a fun and enjoyable way of making toast. Once the bread had been toasted on both sides (cooking one side first then turning the bread over to toast the other side) and then buttered it had that very special taste and texture that you just don't get when toasting bread in a toaster or under the grill. I think mainly because the heat from electric toasters and grills is a dry heat that takes out far more moister from the bread than when it’s toasted in front of a coal fire.
Having said that, holding bread on the end of a toasting fork up to a coal fire to toast one side, before turning the bread over and toasting the other side, while at the same time trying not to burn your fingers on the hot bread is a slow process; especially as you could only toast one slice of bread at a time. It was also tiring on the arms, as you held the toasting fork up to the open fire for ages, and getting uncomfortably hot from the heat as you sat too close to the open coal fire. But the rewards made it all worthwhile; nothing beats toast cooked by an open fire as a treat.
Alas, days gone by as everybody these days have central heating and coal fires are just a thing of the past; although you can still buy the toasting forks, and potentially toast your bread in the good old fashioned way albeit on your BBQ rather than an open coal fire.
Toasting Your Bread Under the Grill
This is my preferred way of toasting bread, whether your grill is gas or electric, the heat isn't quite as dry as in an electric toaster so the toast does taste better although it takes longer to make because unlike a toaster that grills both sides simultaneously you can only grill one side at a time so invariably, unless we're cooking things on toast e.g. cheese on toast it's the toaster that gets used every time for speed and convenience.
I'm particularly pleased with our current grill specifically because it has a variable temperature control; just like grills use to be on cookers years ago. Alas too many grills these days on cookers just have an on or off option; although some have also have an option to turn just one side of the grill on for cooking small quantities of food).
Our current cooker uses the same knob for the top oven and grill, hence the full temperature control. If the front flap is down the top grill elements come on and it grills and if the front flap is up (closed) then the cooker knows you want to use it as a top oven and not a grill; smart; and this is a great safety feature in that if you accidentally leave the grill on and close the flap it's not going to overheat and burn out as would normally happen but instead it switches to oven mode and the temperature is then thermostatically controlled; which is much safer.
The big advantage of using a grill with variable temperature control when grilling things e.g. toasties (things on toast) and toasted sandwiches etc. is obviously the option to cook on a gentler heat especially useful if you're cooking other food on the hob and aim for it all to finish cooking at the same time, so that nothing ruins. And if the toasty is particularly thick grilling on a gentler heat ensures a more even cook so that the cheese on top doesn't burn while the ingredients underneath is still warming through.
Toasted Sandwich Makers
Inside Out Toasted Sandwiches
I always think of these as 'inside out' Toasted Sandwiches in that you grease the outside of the bread rather than the inside with margarine so that the outside cooks and doesn't stick to the toasted sandwich maker and doesn't burn.
I'm not a great fan of these because if I want to make a toasted cheese sandwich or toasted cheese and tomato sandwich then I'll use the grill as the grill is more versatile, you butter the bread on the inside and you can pack the ingredients into a toasted sandwich under the grill, even make triple deckers if you want, something that you can't do with a toasted sandwich maker; although I understand you can buy some quite chunky sandwich toasters that are quite versatile.
The sandwich toaster we have was given to us as a gift (for which we are grateful) and we do use it occasionally for a change, but most often for toasted sandwiches we still use the grill. Within the first month of using the sandwich toaster the handle broke. As it was a gift and we had no receipt or proof of purchase we wrote a 'friendly letter' to the manufacturer explaining the circumstances and within a week a new one arrived on our doorstep with their courtesy. It demonstrates that friendly (diplomatic) letters can and do work and when a manufacturer responds quickly, positively and courteously it gives you more confidence in their aftercare so you are more likely to recommend them and to buy from them again in the future.
Preference to Toasting Bread
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Arthur Russ
Your views on toasting bread
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 15, 2017:
Thanks for your feedback anonymous.
anonymous on October 23, 2012:
Great lens, nice toasters.
anonymous on October 23, 2012:
Great lens, nice toasters.