* Prices may differ from that shown
This Russell Hobbs sandwich toaster is exactly what you would expect it to be. I have owned it for around five years, and it is still going strong, although the black cooking surface is somewhat worn away and scratched, but this doesn't affect the sandwiches.
The machine itself has a white plastic outer surface that is coolish to the touch during use. there is an orange indicator light to tell you when it is plugged in and hot. There are no switches, you simply plug it in when you want to use it and unplug it when you have finished.
When you lift up the upper section, two shaped black metal plates are displayed on which you place your slices of bread. Each plate is around 13cm x 11cm, so some larger loaves will not always fit, but the economy bread I buy is just fine. On top of your bread you place whatever filling takes your fancy, cheese, tomatoes, sardines, baked beans, the decision is yours, but make sure not to over fill your bread and keep the filling away from the edges to avoid spillage. You then simply place another slice of bread on each sandwich and shut the sandwich maker, using the clip on the handle to hold it down tight.
The machine will now toast you bread, warm up and/or melt your filling, and seal the edges all in one operation that takes around five minutes, depending how broawn you like your toast. The top can easily be lifted to check on the progress. This will not ruin your sandwich.
After you have unplugged the machine and enjoyed your toastie, the business of cleaning will occur. This can be tricky, as the plates do not lift out of the machine, and by their very nature have awkward nooks and crannies to get dirty. If you have not overfiled your sandwich, this should just involve removing crumbs. But obviously accidents do occur, and if food has become stuck onto the plates then often the recommended "soft cloth" just will not do, hence why my machine has scratched plates.
I like toast, and I like sandwiches, but which one's best..? There's only one way to find out.... FIGHT.... No, seriously, it's not a Harry Hill sketch, it's a matter of when a person who likes to eat sandwiches but want to have something warm as well.
But have you ever tried eating a sandwich that crammed with hot melting cheese? It's not that easy, with the stringy hot stuff dripping on your chin, making a bit of a mess of your Axminster carpet and blue suede shoes.
So when someone came up with the cleaver idea of sealing the edges of the bread came about, with someone thinking about it with some seriousness, coming up with more than just an idea of getting two slices of toast and wedging something inside them. This person came up with the idea of actually toasting the bread whilst heating the filling up at the same time.
This idea being what has come to be known as a 'toasted sandwich' maker, which, as the name suggests, makes sandwiches that are toasted so that you get the simplicity of a sandwich whilst having the warmth of a slice or two of toast.
Now, years after the first sandwich toaster was created and after billions of 'toasties' being eaten, there have been endless sandwich toasty makers on the market that have been either good, bad and some being completely ugly, but most have done exactly what they have claimed they could do... and that is to make a toasty... and to be honest, I think I've owned and used most of them during my time of making warm, lovely filled and stuffed to the edges sandwich toasties.
One particular sandwich toaster that I had for a while was one from a well known company called Russell Hobbs, with the full name being the Russell Hobbs Sandwich toaster 18008, which isn't much of a name really but you get the general idea of what it is.
Sadly though, due to an unfortunate incident involving a metal object and a slight mistake in trying to get a very sticky piece of mush from one of the lower plates, this one was no longer as non-stick as it started as, which resulted in a lot of, shall we say 'ripped' sandwich toasties as they clung to the sections of the plates that were no longer, 'non-stick'. But when this was in perfect working order it really did exactly what I asked it to do.
* What does this look like..?
It looks like all other makers I have used in the passed, and the one I am using now in fact.
It is made of a curvy white plastic casing, being hinged at the rear so that it opens and closes directly onto the bread that you want toasting.
On the front there is a good size handle that has a locking catch right on the top front section which locks onto the bottom of the handle section and keeps the plates squeezed together so the toasting can be done, sealing the pieces of bread together properly.
There is a little orange light on he top, towards the rear, that glows up when the machine is switched on.
I have had others that have two lights, one that show it's on, the other showing when the plates are at the right temperature.
The entire thing sits on little feet that keep it off the worktops by a few millimetres so that it stays above water level if anything is spilt. This also keep the machine level, although it can wobble slightly when pushed in the wrong places.
When you open it up, which is done by pulling the handles apart so that the top section hinges open from the bottom. Once opened you'll see the heating plates that sit on both top and bottom sections. Each plate has what look like four triangular sections indented in them, which is where the bread rests on top, with the raised edges around the sections being there so that the edges of the bread will be trapped together as the food inside heats up.
And that's what it looks like inside... and outside.
* Does it get hot..?
Yes. Very hot indeed, especially the plates inside the machine.
The outside casing stays a bit cooler but can be a bit warm to the touch so you have to be careful if you push down on the top to close the halves together.
The handle is the coolest part of it, which is good as it helps you shut the bread inside without too much trouble.
* What about cleaning..?
It's as easy to clean as many others, although as it does not have removable plates you have to put a little more effort into the cleaning process.
The plates are none stick and are usually cleaned well enough with a good wipe over, using a bit of elbow grease for those more stubborn bits, (other grease is available in most stores).
Do not do what I ended up doing. Do not use a metal knife to get that last piece of charred cheese from the edge of the plate as once the none stick is damaged it becomes a sticking mess of stodgy goo as the bread stick to the damaged plate.
* Is there anything else..?
Hmmm. Well. I supposed I should mention the little booklet that came in the box. This gives you a rough idea of how to use this machine, how to care for it and, which is a bit of a bonus if you're out of sandwich toastie ideas, a few recipes for toasties.
Also, inside the booklet, there's a few empty pages so you can add your own ideas if you want to.
As for the actual toastie machine, I think I've mentioned everything I can about it.
It can handle two sandwiches at a time, four slices of bread, two on either side, ending up with four triangular toasties once it's cooked.
* My opinion...
I have a bit of a thing for toasties. I mean, I like toast to start with, so putting things inside two pieces of toast without it flopping out all over my shoes is a bit of a bonus. So when it comes to making hot toasties I don't like to be hassled by all complicated functions that are more trouble than they are worth.
As I mentioned, I've had many makers like this one and whilst this one was working as it should be then it worked very well indeed. But to be honest, I quite miss this one as it really was a cracking little maker that made the toasties just as I like them. So this little easy to use sandwich toastie maker really made me happy.
As for the looks, well, the smooth curves of this one made it look smart in my kitchen, even though mine spent its 'none-using' time inside the cupboard when it wasn't being used, although I do use it quite a lot, especially at the weekends.
The handle manages to stay cool enough to touch so that when I press the two 'sides' together I kept my skin on my fingers, which is nice.
The hinges are fixed, not floating, which means that I had to sort of push on the front of the bread when I was closing the lid due to the fact that the bread would push slightly forwards as the lid closed tighter. This isn't a major hassle and it is something that needs to be done with most makers of its kind, otherwise the bread pushes a little too far forwards when the lid is shut, which leaves the back edges of the bread a little off sink, leaving the possibility of the edges of the bread not sealing off properly.
Although this is all down to how much filling you slap into it I supposed.
The wire isn't the longest but it does give enough cable so you don't have to be hugging a plug socket when I want to use this, which means that I can have it away from the upper wall cupboards so the 'steam' from the machine can get to the fan without going anywhere near the under cupboard lights.
As for cleaning. This is a matter of using a damp cloth, maybe a sponge, but never a metal object or it will end up like mine did... but we live and learn I suppose. At least I know how much non-stick coating can be removed with one scrape of a flat knife.
What more can I say about this sandwich toaster?
In a few words. It's easy to use. There's no complicated buttons to press, in fact there's no buttons at all, only a light. It seals the edges of the bread perfectly well so the filling doesn't dribble out and it makes toasties that are as tasty as any others I have tried.
Plus, it doesn't cost the earth to buy either.
* So what about the price then..?
This little white bread heater that traps all the food inside the two slices and makes a plateful of tasty toasted sandwiches cost about £20 - £25 from most good retailers, and some bad one too.
* Would I recommend this..?
Well, of all the sandwich toasters that I have used, of which there have been many, this one was one of the better ones.
It is compact yet can make four slices at a time. that's four triangular slices, all well seamed and crammed full of what ever you want to put into them.
So, if you're after a nice size toasted sandwich maker that will fit in your cupboard and be ready to warm up your bread then you can't go wrong with this one.